It is not okay that you (or we, a collective we) do not have an emergency savings fund. And yes, I know what you’re going to say because I used to say it too: It’s hard enough just trying to get by paycheck to paycheck. You’re not making nearly as much as you should be. How can I even talk to you about savings when you have bills piling up in your mailbox?
But I stand firm. Even if all those things are true, you still need to be putting something, anything, away into that savings account. Why? Because you will miss that money now a whole lot less than you will wish you had it when you need it. And you will need it. Unexpected expenses may be, well, unexpected, but they’re not uncommon. Broken appliances, car repairs, medical problems, job layoffs — every one of us is likely to experience at least one of these as an adult.
In the recession that started in 2009, women alone lost more than 2.1 millions jobs. By 2010, nearly one in 10 people was unemployed. Why then, do we operate under this assumption that our paycheck (regardless of how small and how it’ll never be enough) will keep appearing in our bank account, or mailbox, until we take another (better!) job?
At dinner with my friends the other night, we were talking about emergency funds and someone asked innocently what the “proper” amount really is. When I said we should all have anywhere from three to six months of our monthly expenses saved up, almost every single woman at the table balked. It was as if I had just said we all need to start stockpiling gold bars. And these are women who are all gainfully employed — dedicated, ambitious creatures, leaning in, climbing up, tap-tapping away at glass ceilings. They all looked at me and pleaded with their eyes: But that’s impossible.