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Emergency Fund: What It Is and why it is important

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Emergency Fund What is it and Why It Matters

Best kept in a savings account An emergency fund can be beneficial for unexpected expenses.

By Margarette Burnette Savings accounts and money market accounts banks Margarette Burnette is a specialist in saving and has been writing about bank accounts since before even the Great Recession. Her work has been published in , and other major newspapers. Prior to being a member of NerdWallet, Margarette was a freelance journalist who had bylines in magazines like Good Housekeeping, and Parenting. She is based 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 known as a speaker and author. As an expert in finance psychology Kathleen was featured on TV and her work has been highlighted 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 at the McCallum Graduate School at Bentley University from 2009 until the year 2019. She is currently teaching for the Champlain College. Champlain College.

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What is an emergency fund?

The emergency fund can be described as a bank account with money set aside to pay for large, unexpected expenses, such as:

Unforeseen medical expenses.

Repair or replacement of your home appliance.

Major car repair.


Compare top savings accounts

Find a savings account that is high yielding with a good rate. Compare rates side-by-side.

Why do I require an emergency account?

Emergency funds provide an financial buffer that could keep you going in moment of crisis without having to rely upon credit card or higher-interest loans. It is especially crucial to keep an emergency fund in place if you’re in debt as it could assist you in not borrowing any more.

“One one of the most important steps towards climbing from debt to provide yourself a way not to get further in credit,” says NerdWallet columnist Liz Weston.

How much should I save?

The short answer: If starting small, try to save at least $500, and work your way up to a full year’s cost of living expenses.

The long answer is: The best amount you should spend depends on your personal financial situation, but a best practice is to have enough to cover three to six months in living costs. (You may need more if you work as a freelancer or seasonal worker, for example, or if your job would be hard to get replaced.) If you lose work, you can utilize the money to purchase necessities until you look for a new job or supplement your unemployment benefits. Start small, Weston says, but begin.

Having even $500 saved will help you get out of numerous financial squabbles. Start saving now and build your money over time.

>> Looking for top savings alternatives? These are our top choices for the .

Where should I place my emergency money?

Savings accounts that have the highest interest rate and easy access. Since emergencies could strike at any moment and access to it quickly is crucial. So it shouldn’t be tied in a long-term investing fund. But the account should be distinct from the bank account you regularly use, so that you don’t have the temptation to draw funds from your account.

A is a great spot to keep your money. It is federally insured to $250,000 per depositor, which means it’s protected. The money earns you interest and you are able to access your funds quickly either through the withdrawal process or via a transfer.

Savings Cash Management CD Checking Money Market

Member FDIC

SoFi Checking and Savings

APY 3.75 percent SoFi members who have direct deposit can earn up to 3.75 percent per year in annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 2.50% APY on check balances. No minimum amount of direct deposit that is required to be eligible for 3.75 percent APY on savings, and 2.50% APY on checking balances. Members without direct deposit will get 1.20 percent APY on all account balances, including savings and checking (including vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. 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 to APY $0

Member FDIC

Marcus from Goldman Sachs Online Savings Account

APY 3.50 35% 3.50% APR (annual per cent yield) with no minimum balance to earn stated APY. Accounts must be in an open balance in order to stay open. APY current as of 02/07/2023.

Min. balance required for APY $0

The cash accounts offer features and services similar to savings, checking or investment accounts into one product. The cash management account is typically provided by non-bank financial institutions.

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

on Wealthfront’s website

Wealthfront Cash Account

APY 4.05 percent

Min. balance for APY $1

on Betterment’s site

Betterment Cash Reserve – Paid non-client promotion

APY 4.00% Annual percentage yield (variable) is as of 02/06/2023.

Min. balance to APY $0

CDs (certificates of deposit) are a form of savings account that has an interest rate fixed and a term typically, they have higher rates of interest than standard savings accounts.

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


APY 4.60%

The term 1.5 years

Member FDIC

Marcus is a product of Goldman Sachs High-Yield CD

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

1. Year of the term

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

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

Member FDIC

SoFi Checking and Savings

APY 2.50% SoFi members with direct deposit are eligible to receive up 3.75% annually-percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 2.50% APY on checking balances. The minimum amount of direct deposit that is required to be eligible for 3.75 percent APY on savings and 2.50% APY for checking balances. Members without direct deposit will receive 1.20% APY on all account balances, including savings and checking (including Vaults). Rates of interest are subject to change and may change at any point. The rates shown 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: $0

Deposits are FDIC Insured

Chime Checking Account


Monthly fee of $0

Member FDIC

Axos Bank(r) Rewards Checking

APY 1.25% Earn monthly direct deposits of $1500 or more to earn 0.40 percent annual percentage. Utilize Your Axos Visa(r) debit card to make a maximum of 10 transactions each calendar month (min 3 cents per transaction) or sign up for Account Aggregation/Personal Finance Management (PFM) in Online Banking to earn 0.30% annual percentage. Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 per month on an Axos Managed Portfolios Invest Account to earn 0.20% APY. Maintain an average daily balance of $2,500 in the Axos Self-Directed Trading Invest Account to earn 0.20 percent APY. Make use of your Rewards Checking account to pay your entire monthly Axos Consumer loan payment and earn 0.15% per annum.

Monthly fee: $0

Money market accounts pay rates similar to savings accounts. They also have some features for checking.

The money market accounts have 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

Bank Money Market Account – Discover Bank Money Market Account

APY 3.20%

Min. balance to APY $1

How can I create an emergency cash fund?

Determine the amount you want to save. Use the below if you require assistance in calculating the expenses you will incur for six months.

Make a goal for your savings each month. This will help you get into the habit of saving often and makes the task less daunting. One way to achieve this is to automate the transfer of funds to your savings account every time you receive a payment.

Move money into your savings account immediately. If your employer offers direct deposit, there’s a great chance they can divide your paycheck between multiple savings and checking accounts, ensuring that your monthly savings goal is met without having to touch the checking accounts of your account.

Keep the change. Utilize the mobile device to store automatically every when you purchase. There are that link with checking accounts and other accounts to round up purchase amounts on your transactions. The extra amount is automatically transferred into an account for savings.

Save the tax rebate. It is possible to get this once a year – only if you are expecting to receive a tax refund. Saving it is an easy way to build the emergency funds. If you have to file your taxes, think about having your refund transferred directly to your emergency fund. Alternately, you could think about making adjustments to your tax deductions to have less money that is withheld. If changing your deductions is an option that is suitable for you, you can direct the extra cash into your emergency fund.

Examine and adjust the amount of contributions. Check in after a couple of months to see how much you’re saving, and then adjust as needed especially if you’ve recently drained money from your emergency fund. On the other hand when you’ve saved enough to cover the cost of six months of expenses and have extra cash, you might consider making investments with the extra funds instead.

Here’s what you should do if you think that you may have

When saving you should draw a line between emergencies and all other. In fact, once you’ve reached a threshold of emergency savings, Weston says, it’s best to create a savings account for more irregular but essential items like car repairs or vacations, as well as clothing. If you need help staying organised, banks will permit customers to set up and label sub-accounts to meet different financial objectives.

Everyone should be saving for the unforeseeable. The ability to have a reserve fund could mean the difference between weathering the whims of a financial storm for a few days or falling into deep debt.

Use this calculator to start. It takes only about a minute:

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The author’s bio: Margarette Burnette is a savings account specialist at NerdWallet. She has had her work highlighted by USA Today and The Associated Press.

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