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Emergency Fund The Emergency Fund: What Is It and Why It Matters

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Emergency Fund What is it and Why It Matters

Best kept in an account for savings, an emergency fund is beneficial to cover unexpected costs.

By Margarette Burnette Savings accounts and money market accounts banking Margarette Burnette has been a specialist in saving and has written about bank accounts from before even the Great Recession. Her work has been published in other major newspapers. Prior to becoming a part of NerdWallet, Margarette was a freelance journalist who had bylines in magazines like Good Housekeeping, and Parenting. Margarette is located near Atlanta, Georgia.

Dec 21, 2021

Read by Kathleen Burns Kingsbury Wealth psychology expert and coach Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, founder of KBK Wealth Connection and host of the Breaking Money Silence podcast, is a widely published writer and speaker. As an expert on the psychology of money, Kathleen is a regular on the television, and her work has been highlighted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, “PBS NewsHour,”” Money magazine, Today Money, Forbes and CNBC. Kathleen served as an adjunct faculty member of the McCallum Graduate School at Bentley University from 2009 to 2019, and is now a professor for the Champlain College. Champlain College.

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What exactly is an emergency account?

A savings account is savings account that has money put aside to cover the unexpected costs of a large scale, like:

Unforeseen medical costs.

Home-appliance repair or replacement.

Major car fixes.


Compare the best savings accounts

Find a high-yield savings account that offers a competitive rate. Compare rates against each other.

Why do I require an emergency fund?

Emergency funds create a financial buffer that can keep you afloat in a moment of crisis without the need to depend for credit or loans. It can be especially important to have an emergency fund if you have debt, because it can aid in avoiding borrowing more.

“One one of the most important steps towards climbing out of debt is to provide yourself a way not to go further into credit,” says NerdWallet columnist Liz Weston.

How much should I save?

The short answer: If beginning small, set aside at least $500, but work your way up to a half-year’s cost of living expenses.

The longer answer is: The best amount for you is contingent on your financial situation However, a good rule of thumb is to to cover 3 to 6 months’ worth in living costs. (You may require more money if you freelance or work seasonally as an example or if your position will be difficult to find a replacement for.) If you are forced to quit your job, you can use the money to purchase necessities until you search for a replacement, or the funds could help you to pay for unemployment benefits. Start by making small steps, Weston says, but start.

A savings of even $500 will help you get out of many financial scrapes. Start saving now and build your money over time.

Are you looking for the best savings options? Here are our recommendations for the .

Where should I put my emergency money?

A savings account with a high interest rate and easy access. Since emergencies can strike at any time making it easy to access your account at any time is crucial. Therefore, it should not be tied to a long-term investment fund. However, the account must be kept separate from the account at your bank that you regularly use, so that you’re not tempted to use your savings.

A is a good place for your money. It is federally insured up to $250,000 per depositor therefore it’s secure. The money earns you interest and you can access your funds quickly either through the withdrawal process or via a transfer.

Saves CD Management Checking Money Market

Member FDIC

SoFi Savings and Checking

APY 3.75% SoFi members with direct deposit are eligible to receive up 3.75 percent per year in annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 2.50% APY on check balances. The minimum amount for direct deposits required to qualify for the 3.75% APY for savings, and 2.50 percent APY on checking balances. Direct deposit members will earn 1.20 percent APY on all account balances, including savings and checking (including Vaults). The rates of interest are variable and may change at any point. The rates shown are current as of 01/04/2023. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet

Min. balance required for APY $0

Member FDIC

Marcus is a product of Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account

APY 3.50 35% 3.50% APR (annual percentage yield) with no minimum balance to earn stated APY. Accounts must be in an active balance in order to remain open. APY valid as of 02/07/2023.

Min. balance required for APY $0

The cash accounts offer features and services that are similar to savings, checking or investment accounts into one product. These accounts for managing cash are usually offered by non-bank financial institutions.

The cash accounts offer services and features similar to savings, checking and/or investment accounts in one package. Cash management accounts are typically offered by non-bank financial institutions.

on the Wealthfront website.

Wealthfront Cash Account

APY 4.05 percent

Min. balance to APY $1

on Betterment’s website

Betterment Cash Reserve – Paid non-client promotion

APY 4.00 percent Annual percent yield (variable) is at 02/06/2023.

Min. balance required for APY $0

CDs (certificates of deposit) are a type of savings account with a fixed rate and term typically, they have higher interest rates than regular savings accounts.

CDs (certificates of deposit) are a kind of savings account that comes with the option of a fixed rate and time, and usually have higher rates of interest than traditional savings accounts.


APY 4.60%

The term 1.5 years

Member FDIC

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High-Yield CD

APR 4.40 percent 4.40% The APY (annual percent yield) at 01/25/2023.

One year of term

Checking accounts are utilized to deposit cash on a daily basis and for withdrawals.

Checking accounts are used for day-to-day cash deposits and withdrawals.

Member FDIC

SoFi Savings and Checking

APY 2.50% SoFi members with direct deposit are eligible to earn up to 3.75 percent annually-percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 2.50% APY on checking balances. No minimum amount of direct deposit needed to qualify for 3.75% APY for savings and 2.50 percent APY on checking balances. Direct deposit members will get 1.20 percent interest on balances of savings and checking (including vaults). Rates of interest are subject to change and may change at any time. The rates listed were last updated on 01/04/2023. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet

Monthly fee $0

Upgrade Rewards Checking


Monthly fee of $0

They are FDIC Insured

Current Account


Monthly fee of $0

The deposits are FDIC Insured

Chime Checking Account


Monthly fee $0

Member FDIC

Axos Bank(r) Rewards Checking

APY 1.25% Receive monthly direct deposits that total $1,500 plus to receive 0.40% annual percentage. Make use of your Axos Visa(r) debit card for a maximum of 10 transactions per calendar month (min three dollars per purchase) or enroll for Account Aggregation/Personal Financial Manager (PFM) within Online Banking to earn 0.30% annual percentage. Keep an average daily balance of $2,500 within An Axos managed Portfolios Investment Account for 0.20 percent APY. Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in An Axos Self-Directed Trading Investment Account in order to receive 0.20 percent APR. Use your Rewards Checking account for your entire each month Axos customer loan payment to earn 0.15% APR.

Monthly fee of $0

Market accounts for money pay interest rates similar to savings accounts, and come with some checking features.

Money market accounts pay rates similar to savings accounts and have some checking features.

Member FDIC

UFB Best Money Market

APY 4.21 percent

Min. balance for APY $0

Member FDIC

The Discover Bank Money Market Account

APY 3.20 percent

Min. balance to APY $1

How do I build an emergency savings account?

Determine the amount you would like to save. Utilize the following formula if require assistance in calculating your expenses for six months.

Make a goal for your savings each month. This will allow you to get to the habit of saving often and makes the task easier. One way to do this is to automate the transfer of money to your savings account every when you are paid.

Move money into your savings account automatically. If your employer offers direct deposits, there’s a high chance they can divide your paycheck between multiple checking and savings accounts so that your savings goal for the month is taken care of without touching the checking accounts of your account.

Keep the change. Make use of smartphones to make savings each whenever you make a purchase. There are that link with checking accounts and other accounts to round up purchase amounts on your transactions. The excess amount is then transferred to an account for savings.

Make sure you save the tax rebate. It is possible to get this every year only if you anticipate a refund. Saving it is an easy way to boost the emergency funds. If you have to file your taxes, consider having your refund directly deposited into your emergency fund. Alternately, you could think about adjusting your tax deductions to make sure you’re not wasting money that is withheld. If changing your deductions is a good option for you, you could put the extra money into your emergency reserve.

Examine and adjust contributions. Inspect your contributions after a while to see how much you’re saving, and adjust , if necessary especially if you’ve recently drained money from your emergency savings. However when you’ve saved enough to pay for the cost of six months of expenses and have cash left over you could consider investing the additional funds instead.

Here’s the best thing to do if you suspect you may have

When you’re saving money make sure you separate emergencies and other. If you’ve hit a reasonable threshold of emergency savings, Weston says, it’s an excellent idea to begin another savings account to save for sporadic but essential items like car repairs holidays, clothing, and vacations. If you require help to stay organized, many banks permit customers to set up and label sub-accounts for various financial objectives.

Everyone should be saving to cover the possibility of an unexpected. Having something in reserve can make the difference between surviving an economic storm that is short-term or going deep into debt.

Make use of this calculator to start. It takes only just a few minutes

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The author’s bio: Margarette Burnette is a savings account specialist at NerdWallet. The work she has done was featured on USA Today and The Associated Press.

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