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Emergency Fund What is it and Why It’s Important

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

The best place to keep it is an account for savings An emergency fund can be useful for unexpected expenses.

By Margarette Burnette Senior Writer Savings accounts and money market accounts banking Margarette Burnette is an savings expert who has written about bank accounts since prior to the Great Recession. Her work has been published in , and 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

Reviewed 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 recognized author and speaker. As an expert in finance psychology Kathleen is a regular on the television, and her writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, “PBS NewsHour,”” Money magazine, Today Money, Forbes and CNBC. Kathleen worked as an adjunct faculty member of McCallum Graduate School from 2009 to 2019. McCallum Graduate School at Bentley University from 2009 until the year 2019, and is now a professor in the college of Champlain College.

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What exactly is an emergency account?

A savings account is type of bank account that has money set aside to pay for major, unexpected expenses for example:

Unforeseen medical expenses.

Repair or replacement of your home appliance.

Major car repairs.


Compare the best savings accounts

Find a savings account with a high yield with a good rate. Compare rates side-by-side.

What is the reason I should have an emergency account?

The emergency fund is a financial buffer that can keep you afloat in a moment of crisis without relying on credit cards or high-interest loans. It’s especially important to have an emergency fund in case you have debt, because it could aid in avoiding borrowing more.

“One of the first steps in climbing out of debt is to provide yourself a way not to get further in the debt cycle,” says NerdWallet columnist Liz Weston.

How much should I put aside?

The quick answer is: If you’re beginning small, set aside at least $500, then begin to build up to a half-year’s worth of expenses.

The answer is long and complicated: The right amount for you is contingent on your personal financial situation However, a common sense guideline is to to cover three to six months in living costs. (You might need more if you work as a freelancer or seasonal worker, for example or if your position is difficult to get replaced.) If you are forced to quit your job, you can make use of the funds to cover the costs of living until you find a new one, or the funds could help you to pay for unemployment benefits. Start by making small steps, Weston says, but get started.

Even a small amount of savings can get you out of numerous financial squabbles. Put something away now and build your savings over time.

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

Where do I put my emergency account?

A savings account that has a high interest rate and easy access. Since emergencies can strike at any time and access to it quickly is essential. Therefore, it should not be tied to a long-term investment fund. But the account should be distinct from the bank account that you regularly use, so that you’re not tempted to use your savings.

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

Saves CD Management Checking Money Market

Member FDIC

Savings and SoFi Checking

APY 3.75 percent SoFi members who have direct deposit get up to 3.75 per cent annually-percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 2.50 percent APY on their checking balances. The minimum direct deposit amount that is required to be eligible for 3.75% APY for savings and 2.50% APY on checking balances. Direct deposit members will get 1.20 percent APR on all balances in checking and savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and may change at any time. These rates are current as of 01/04/2023. Additional information can be found at

Min. balance required for APY $0

Member FDIC

Marcus is a product of Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account

APY 3.50% 3.50% APY (annual percent yield) with a minimum balance of $0 to earn the stated APY. Accounts must have a positive balance to remain open. APY current as of 02/07/2023.

Min. balance for APY $0

These cash accounts combine features and services that are similar to checking, savings and/or investment accounts in one account. The cash management account is generally offered by non-bank financial institutions.

These cash accounts combine services and features that are similar to checking, savings and/or investment accounts into one account. Cash management accounts are usually provided by non-bank financial institutions.

on Wealthfront’s website

Wealthfront Cash Account

APY 4.05 percent

Min. balance to APY $1

on the Betterment website.

Betterment Cash Reserve – Paid non-client promotion

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

Min. balance for APY $0

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

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


APY 4.60%

Term 1.5 years

Member FDIC

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High-Yield CD

APY 4.40% 4.40% APY (annual percentage yield) at 01/25/2023.

1. Year of the term

Checking accounts are utilized for cash deposits on a regular basis as well as withdrawals.

Checking accounts can be used to deposit cash on a daily basis and for withdrawals.

Member FDIC

SoFi Savings and Checking

APY 2.50 SoFi members who have direct deposit can earn up to 3.75% annually-percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 2.50% APY on checking balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount that is required to be eligible for 3.75% APY for savings, and 2.50 percent APY on checking balances. Customers who do not deposit direct deposits will get 1.20 percent interest on balances, including savings and checking (including vaults). Interest rates are variable and may change at any time. These rates are current as of 01/04/2023. Additional information can be found at

Monthly fee: $0

Upgrade Rewards Checking


Monthly fee $0

They are FDIC Insured

Current Account


Monthly fee: $0

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chime Checking Account


Monthly fee $0

Member FDIC

Axos Bank(r) Rewards Checking

APY 1.25% Make monthly direct deposits that total $1,500 plus to receive 0.40 percent APY. Make use of Your Axos Visa(r) debit card for a maximum of 10 transactions each monthly (min 3 cents per transaction) or sign up for Account Aggregation/Personal Finance Management (PFM) within Online Banking to earn 0.30 percent annual percentage. Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month in the Axos Managed Portfolios Invest Account to earn 0.20 percent APY. Maintain a daily average balance of $2,500 per month within the Axos self-directed trading Investment Account to earn 0.20 percent APY. Use your Rewards Checking account for your entire each month Axos customer loan payment to earn 0.15% APR.

Monthly fee: $0

The money market accounts have rates that are similar to savings accounts. They also have some checking features.

The money market accounts have rates similar to savings accounts and have certain checking features.

Member FDIC

UFB Best Money Market

APY 4.21 percent

Min. balance to APY $0

Member FDIC

Discover Bank Money Market Account

APY 3.20%

Min. balance to APY $1

How do I build an emergency fund?

Calculate the amount you want to save. Utilize the following formula if need help figuring out your expenses for six months.

Make a goal for your savings each month. This will help you get to the habit of saving often and makes the process less difficult. One method to accomplish this is by automatically transferring money to your savings account every when you are paid.

Transfer money to your savings account immediately. If your employer offers direct deposit, there’s a great possibility that they will divide your salary between several checking and savings accounts so that your monthly savings goal is taken care of without touching your checking account.

Save the change. Make use of the mobile device to store every whenever you make a purchase. You can connect with checking accounts or other types of spending accounts to round up amount of your purchases. The excess amount is then transferred into a savings account.

Make sure you save any tax-free refund. It is possible to get this once a year — and only if you expect a refund. It can be an easy way to boost your emergency stash. When you file your taxes, consider having your refund transferred directly to your emergency fund. You could also think about making adjustments to your tax deductions so that you have less money withheld. If changing your deductions is the best option for you, you could transfer the extra cash to your emergency reserve.

Assess and adjust contributions. Check in after a while to determine how much you’re saving and adjust , if necessary particularly if you’ve recently drained money from your emergency fund. On the other hand, if you’ve saved up enough to cover six months of expenses and have some extra cash, you might consider making investments with the extra funds instead.

>> Here’s what to do if you suspect you may have

When saving you should draw a line between emergencies and all other. In fact, once you’ve hit a reasonable threshold of emergency savings Weston says, it’s an excellent idea to create a savings account for irregular but necessary items, such as car maintenance holidays, clothing, and vacations. If you require help to stay organised, banks will permit customers to establish and label sub-accounts for different financial objectives.

Every person should save money for the unforeseeable. A reserve fund can be the difference between getting through a short-term financial storm or going deep into debt.

Make use of this calculator to get started. It only takes a few minutes:

From top to bottom

Author bios: Margarette Burnette is a savings account specialist at NerdWallet. She has had her work featured by USA Today and The Associated Press.

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