Emergency Fund Calculator

How Much Money Should You Have in Your Emergency Fund?
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How much money should you save for an emergency? Use this calculator to find out if you're saving enough.

When life throws you a curveball, an emergency fund can pay your financial obligations while you recover.

Some people recommend saving anywhere between 3 and 12 months' worth of expenses. But that doesn't give you the full picture.

This calculator shows you:

  1. How much your emergency fund should be, based on your expenses and risk factors
  2. How much you should save each month
  3. How long it will take to save up your fund

Find out what goes into your fund and how to account for your risk factors in the walk-through below.

Factor #1: Expenses

Your monthly expenses have the biggest influence on how much your emergency fund should be.

What things need to get paid every month in order for your family to live comfortably each month? Here's what you'll need to figure out:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Utilities (electricity, water, gas, garbage, etc.)
  • Telecommunications (phone, internet, etc.)
  • Insurance (health, car, house/renters', etc.)
  • Transportation (gas, car payment, public transportation, etc.)
  • Debt (credit card, student loans, etc.)
  • Groceries & food
  • Childcare (if it applies)

An emergency fund based only on your monthly expenses might still come up short.

Here's how to identify any potential risks that would benefit from a larger emergency fund.

Factor #2: Risk

There are a few lifestyle factors that require a bigger emergency fund.

Here's what we ask about (and why it matters):

  1. Job security + difficulty of finding a new job
    Imagine if you were to lose your job. Do you expect to find a new one quickly?

    Consider how in-demand your profession is.

    If you usually have an unstable monthly income, it may take longer to get back on your feet. Professions with variable monthly income include commission-based or seasonal jobs.

  2. Marital status
    The bigger the family, the larger the emergency fund you'll probably need.

    Two-income homes can reach their savings goals a bit faster.

    You'll want to make sure you have enough to support the needs of any children, as well. Basic expenses include childcare, clothing and school supplies.

  3. Health status
    Out-of-pocket medical expenses can add up quickly.

    Do you often pay for medication or treatments that your insurance doesn't cover? If so, your emergency fund should factor in those additional expenses.

    Remember: Your health is a priority. You shouldn't have to choose between your health and your financial well-being.

Factor #3: Savings

Savings that you already have stashed away can be added to your emergency fund.

If you do choose to add it in, the calculator will subtract that amount from your emergency fund total.

Looking to give your emergency fund a place to live? Online savings accounts offer rates up to 10x the national average offered by traditional banks.

How to Start Saving
It's never too late (or too early) to start saving up money. Here are our top ways to get into the habit of saving at a pace that's best for you.

  1. Open a high-yield savings account
  2. Use a money saving app (best for new savers)
  3. Look into investing
  4. Boost your saving with a robo-advisor
  5. Take advantage of a savings account promotion

Fun fact: 21% of adults reported that winning the lottery was the most practical way to accumulate a large chunk of money for their own retirement. A nice idea, but probably not your best strategy.

Instead, create a plan to reach your emergency fund goal with regular contributions.

The Next Step: Setting Up Contributions

The below calculator will help you create a savings timeline to save up your fund.

Monthly Contribution Calculator

This calculator is based on the 50-20-30 Budgeting Rule. Here's how it works:

Spend 50% of your net income on needs and obligations, including...

  • Rent or mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Insurance and healthcare
  • Groceries
  • Transportation, and more

Spend 20% on your monthly savings and debt repayment, including...

  • Retirement accounts (401(k), IRAs)
  • Above-minimum payments on loans and debt
  • Emergency fund contributions

The final 30% is used for wants, or non-essential expenses, including...

  • Eating out at restaurants, or buying more expensive food
  • Tech accessories
  • Entertainment events
  • Streaming services

Your income, monthly expenses, and existing savings will tell you how much you should put away every month.

Some individuals will have supplemental income, such as Social Security or Disability Insurance. Be sure to include this additional money in the calculator.

What is Social Security, SSI, and SSDI?
Not sure if someone in your household receives supplementary income? Here are the main differences between some of the most common federal assistance programs:

  • Social Security: "Entitlement" program that provides benefits based on your past earnings/work history. Available for retirees, disabled people, etc.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): "Needs-based" program for people who are usually older, disabled, or low-income. No work history requirements.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): "Entitlement" program that provides benefits based on work history to a disabled person or their family members.

Bottom Line

Knowing where the finish line is makes it easier to create a savings plan and stick to it.

With this calculator, you have just about everything you need to take that step.

It's best if you can commit to monthly contributions. But just remember that any amount you save is better than nothing. Be patient, spend wisely, and try to plan ahead when possible.

Holly Zorbas is a guardian of content and community at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Holly Zorbas at holly.zorbas@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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Articles on Emergency Fund Calculator

Why You Need an Emergency Fund

Everything you need to know about emergency funds, including why you need one, how much to save, and where to keep your fund for safe, easy access.

Where to Keep Emergency Fund

Where should an emergency fund be kept for quick, easy access? Explore your options to find out where your money is safest and which accounts to avoid.
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