I've been reading in a few places just lately, about emergency funds. Here's a discussion on MSE. And another one here on Frugal Blog. How much do you save to put in them, how much should you aim to have in them, and where do you keep them. Everyone has their own way of dealing with this, some squirrel the money away into a pot, or a separate bank account, some just don't have enough spare money lying around. My pension gets paid into the bank, I have never thought of it as savings because it doesn't stay in there long enough. It swishes round and round, and gets used for something eventually, sometimes in a matter of weeks, often within the year.
I don't consider it as an emergency fund either, it is just spare working cash that is available should the need arise for me to spend it. It's like a float, to keep me afloat. My float isn't a large amount, enough to dip into it if I have to for bits and bobs that need paying at certain times of the year, mainly for planned bills which always come at the same time every year. I have just paid my car insurance, I have saved enough cash for that. Last month was the road tax which was paid in full. The utility bills are always expected so I know approximately how much I will need for them.
I am wondering what people's definition of an emergency is. Unforeseen circumstances I would imagine. Something out of the ordinary, like something breaking down perhaps. The only real emergency I can think of is something which threatens life, for instance, my cats being run over, or taken ill, and needing veterinary treatment. If I was taken ill, or had an accident, and for whatever reason became immobile, that would be an emergency and extra funds would be needed to assist me.
So, what is an emergency, what do people need money for quickly? Perhaps living in a single person household may have something to do with why I can't think of any more emergencies. I can put up with things not working, whereas a family member might be up in arms if the tele breaks down, or the cooker gives up the ghost. If my fridge broke I would need to find another way to keep my food fresh, so a new fridge might be on the cards. But I wouldn't have to rush out and get one immediately. It's the middle of winter, flippin cold outside, I could keep a few items in a sealed box in the garden, till I could organise another fridge.
Those who have been reading a long time will remember that my heating and hot water system stopped working. It wasn't an emergency. I couldn't afford to replace it, so I found another way of keeping myself clean and warm, I lived with it. Strip wash in the kitchen and wearing loads of clothes in the house. Eventually I got a grant to repair and replace it.
If my gas cooker breaks down I can use the microwave and the kettle, and the slow cooker. I even have a good sized camping stove which I could get out and put a new gas bottle on. If the kettle breaks I can heat water for a drink in the microwave or on the gas cooker. If the washing machine breaks I could hand wash in the sink. It wouldn't be very convenient in the winter, so I might have to visit a launderette until I got a replacement.
If the car breaks, I could get the bus into town to do the shopping, or go on my bike. It would be a bit inconvenient, but when push comes to shove, I could do it. It wouldn't be an emergency, because there would be an alternative.
The house is insured so any emergencies should be covered. Not sure about frozen pipes though, but I'm not too worried by that, they haven't frozen in the seventeen years I have been here.
If the computer broke, that wouldn't be an emergency, because I have two of them. Or, I could go to the library and use their computers free of charge. If the Dyson breaks, I have a brush and pan.
So, a multiple occupancy house would probably be more prone to emergencies than mine, because people have different views on what is an acceptable standard of living. I can live with just the basics. I am interested to know what other people think of as an emergency. Why do you have an emergency fund, and what would you spend it on? I can only give my perspective from a single persons point of view, and from someone who does not need frills in her life. Feel free to add your own perspective.
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