Monday, January 25th, 2016
One of the building blocks of sound personal financial management is the emergency fund.
People who live paycheque to paycheque without financial reserves of any kind will be the first to tell you the fear of an unexpected expense can cause sleepless nights. Those who have taken the steps to set up an emergency fund will tell you how liberating it can feel: Like a weight being lifted off your shoulders. And those who've established a well-funded short- and long-term emergency fund will have an easier time continuing to strengthen their overall personal finances.
So the emergency fund is a great building block to start with if you don't know where to start when it comes to managing your money.
Easy access, low risk
The whole idea of an emergency fund is that you have access to money in short order. There are two parts to that: it has to be easily accessible, and it shouldn't be tied up in risky investments. For easy access, a high-interest savings account is ideal and simple. It's also about as low as you can get on the risk scale, so it checks off both boxes. If you have unused Tax-Free Savings Account contribution room, you can go one step better by setting up a high-interest savings account inside your TFSA.
The reason you don't want your emergency fund to be in riskier investments is that over the short term, those investments might be worth much more or much less than what you put in them in the first place. Since we can't predict the short term movements of investments with any certainty, and we can't predict when emergencies occur, we don't want to run the risk of not having enough money in an emergency if the need arises.
Finding the money for an emergency fund
After you open your new account for your emergency fund, you then have to start putting money into it. If you feel like you're just making ends meet it can seem like a daunting task, so here are some tips to help get you started: