Emergency funds & COVID-19

If nothing else, COVID-19 has shown the importance of having an emergency fund. How many of us really have 3-6 months of living expenses saved? How many consider their credit card to be a kind of emergency fund?

I’m a semi-devotee of Dave Ramsey, and if anyone is familiar with him, he advocates paying off debt aggressively, laying out steps to achieve, and having a fully stocked emergency fund.

How many of you have a fully stocked emergency fund? How do you fill in the gaps - do any of you use credit cards exclusively?

I’d love for everyone to share how they’re financially making it through this pandemic - it’s something I haven’t experienced in my lifetime.

For those of you who’ve applied for unemployment, how long has it taken to come through?


We do have a fully funded emergency fund. We didn’t in our early years of marriage, buying a house, having two children and sometimes we came upon hard times…layoffs, accidents where my husband was unable to work, car gets totaled and insurance never pays for everything. So, I finally woke up and realized we needed a special emergency fund to take the terror out of regular unknown emergencies. I started with $100 and faithfully put money into it. Eventually, it is just part of the budget and it really grows and before you know it, you have the peace of mind of a fully funded 3 to 6 month emergency fund. It’s very freeing and very calming. Don’t use it for vacations or new furniture or a boat…this money is strictly for emergencies. Start another account for that other stuff. You’ll be so glad you did.


My wife and I just recently started building one and are hoping to have 6 months saved up by the end of the year.

It really helps that our living expenses are fairly low and since we are getting a stimulus check tomorrow and don’t really need the money for anything, we will be putting a good chunk of it towards our emergency fund in case it is needed later.

We are also paying off debt, investing and building up other savings accounts as well so we can be a little more prepared for the uncertain times ahead.


I do have a 4 month one and continue working to increase it.

I used the stimulus check to pay off my car, and now my only debt is student loans (ugh) and my mortgage. It helps right now that I am not able to go out and spend money, however, it’s been all too easy to shop from home. Other than groceries/necessary household items, I have put a stop to that- one week at a time.

On a lighter note, we had our (NH) first really nice and sunny day yesterday, and wow, the sun did me good.

I did what I planned and put it immediately in an emergency fund.

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I do have an emergency fund, and I am saving aggressively during these times just in case. Admittedly, because of stay-at-home orders, I am not spending on anything I would normally spend on (e.g. entertainment, travel, etc), so saving more money is a bit easier in that context.

It’s just so hard to tell where we’ll be in six months, so I save every penny I can and try to always have a Plan B.


I have at least 5 months of expenses saved up. I needed a pretty big cushion in the bank before I quit my job last May to freelance full-time (I’m a translator). On the upside, I work from home anyway, and certain clients have still been sending work. On the downside, I have no guaranteed income, so I always need to think about marketing when I’m not actually working. I’ve kept my head above water for nearly a year, so hopefully, that will continue.

I didn’t put the stimulus money into savings. I just left it in my checking account to cover regular expenses.


When I financially was able to have a emergency fund I always made sure I had $1000 in savings. But I’ve been saving and paying things off for several years and so my savings when the lockdown started was pretty substantial. So I’m sitting pretty good. But I really don’t want to have to be out of work much longer.


I didn’t start a emergency savings fund until a couple of years ago, my boss suggested that we all do it (we are subject to regular funding problems). So I got serious about it- have saved about 6-8 months worth, and over time got 3 high limit credit cards- so if I had to I could exist for about 3 years. Paid down all debt, cut out “comfort shopping” and if I can do it- anyone can. I was one of those people who thought that I didn’t have to worry, I’d always be able to get a new job, and spent $ like it grew on trees. Now I’m incredibly glad that I took his advice- it’s one of the few things that I don’t have to worry about right now. I know everyone has different circumstances, but any little step you can take will pay off later. Hang in there- we will all make it thru this!!!


We do and we don’t. Right now, our “official” fund is only a couple thousand dollars as we’ve been aggressively saving for a couple of specific goals. If it comes down to it, we have almost three months worth of paychecks in savings, however, although a good chunk of that is set aside specifically for my maternity leave in a few months.

Even with the aggressive savings for our goals, we still have a few hundred dollars going into the emergency fund monthly. We should have our goals hit by the end of summer and then the money we typically put towards them will reroute to our emergency fund.

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We could go nearly a year without an income stream. My family members think my partner and I are lucky. Here’s how “luck” works:

-Pay off all your credit card and student loan debt (by not having a car for five years and renting on the cheap – with roommates).

-Have your partner drive you to and from work for another two-years (i.e. seven years without a car).

-Research and move to a college town (out of state) with affordable housing.

-Purchase a $65,000 fixer upper and put 20% down.

-Live out of a cooler and cook on a Coleman stove during your “let’s make it liveable” phase.

-Make sure your fixer upper is within walking distance of your employer.

-Stick with owning one car.

-Avoid having children (at least for now).

-Cook at home every evening and bring your lunch to work.

-Keep saving money as you maintain your double income stream.

That’s how luck works. What was the most challenging part? Finding a partner with the same financial mindset.


All I can say is WOW. That’s how to do it, but the level of commitment is very hard for most people. Congratulations

It took COVID-19 to make me realize that I need to have an emergency savings funded for three to six months! Thankfully, my federal and state tax returns and stimulus check helped me get started.


I am one that does not have 3-6 months of living expenses saved. I have worked in the restaurant industry as a bartender/waitress for 18 years. I do not have a credit card due to bad credit. My tax return and stimulus check went to back child support and truthfully I’m having a very difficult time during this pandemic. It’s very hard to find work. But I am keeping an optimistic mind! Hope everyone stays safe and have a lovely day.:heart:

My hubby and I always lived on 1 income.The saved income was always our emergency fund. We also bought 3 homes to rehab and lived in. We are now retired and we now live in our home we can not afford to buy now! We bought it at auction for $205,000. It is now insured for $880,000. Start small when you are just starting out. $100.00 is an excellent met goal. Do not be ashamed of meeting that goal. No one ever has $100.00 if they never saved a penny. or no one has a $1000.00 if they did not save $100.00. I would never have a portfolio of about $1,000,000. depending on the epidemic believed or real , if I had not purchased 1 share of ATT as a 3rd. grader. My family nick name was Lucy VanPelt. No one is too young or too poor to start investing. My portfolio of stocks started with pennies and nickels I saved min my pink plastic piggy bank.Good Luck and keep saving.


Well, I will speak up and say I had no emergency fund prepared. I have started one a bunch of times but this pandemic caught me without extra funds and my PT job closed up and hopefully, the owners will still have enough money for a real reopening sometime in the near future.

I have gotten creative and started googling and applying for different grants. You usually have to write your story and provide a copy of your ID or a paystub some places ask for more info than I had available but right now I am probably waiting on the decision of over a dozen different coronavirus emergency funds.

I collect too much money on disability so I do not qualify for any of the normal funds available, those are usually only for low-income households. But low-income is subjective to your lifestyle I suppose.

I have been utilizing free food and personal items that are being offered by non-profits and have reached out to local churches and pantries to fill out our food gaps.

In normal times I am big on donating items and money to many organizations and have done this since I was 18. I have never asked people for help, this coronavirus pandemic is something that none of us have experienced before so we must all get creative and help each other in any way that we can.

I happen to believe that a good number of us do not have an emergency fund to live off of and though I applaud the smart members in this thread please don’t feel regret now or by reading their stories. I know many people living check to check that are struggling to pay their bills right now. We can all aspire to be ready in case there is ever a next time! I know I will be sticking to my savings plan more intently from now on!!


I didn’t have a real emergency fund at all prior to all this. I just had a few hundred dollars left from my tax return that I decided to put in a separate savings account. It was enough for maybe a month, because I used the bulk of my return to pay off my rent and car insurance. Because those were my big expenses the rest of my bills are pretty small.

Thankfully, I work retail and our store has a pharmacy and basic groceries so we were deemed essential in my state. I busted butt to work as many hours as possible to immediately pay ahead all of my bills the first month or so of the pandemic, when we had a wave of people take leave of absences for health reasons. When I got my stimulus check, I put half in savings right away. We are now comfortable for the next three months or so. Unfortunately we had a family matter come up that was just easier to deal with by leaving work for a time, but rather than take an LOA I looked into my vacation pay. I ended up with a paid month off and am hoping to still work my side hustle (transcription) at a decent pace to pay down my student loan debt.

Just before this virus landed I’d managed to pay off two of my loans and I won’t let it stop me, especially now that my payments are deferred till September and I don’t have accruing interest. The snowball is at a halt for me on it’s own, so I’m busting out the shovel!


Great job Gabby. Sometimes the “rainy day” has to come before we get serious that it can happen. Some people throw in the towel and would waste the few hundred dollars to self soothe. You took the bull by the horns and turned things around. Keep up the good work.


Just getting started even with small amounts is key. I’ve always been a saver and always kept an emergency fund of some form or another, and then with the last 30 years or so of full-time employment I worked as a contractor. I worked mostly in the IT industry and had to always be prepared for what used to be called “on the bench” times–times between contracts.

That said, it wasn’t unusual to have to pretty much wipe out an emergency fund for various emergencies through the years. I just kept topping it back up again and again. In more recent years, just before semi-retirement in the fall of 2015, I started separating funds into different accounts (for emergencies, property taxes, for Christmas, for rental property expenses, home expenses, etc.). Whatever you can save–no matter how small you think it is–is a step forward. No effort is wasted, truly: enough for 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 1 year–it’s all good. The saving habit is the most important thing. Keep up the good work.


@sthom thanks for the post. You have just motivated me!

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