An emergency fund is money that stays in your bank account to help you maintain your normal life when you come across an emergency situation- a health crisis, an unexpected foreign trip, home repairs or job loss.This fund is a great crisis buffer that would allow you to have much needed peace of mind when you’re faced with an unforeseen event. An emergency fund also keep you away from being in debt or paying interest.
How Much Should You Save?-
Ideally, you want to have enough savings for your emergency fund that would pay your rent and necessary bills for at least six months. The more you have in your emergency fund the less stressed out you’d be during an undesirable life event insha Allah.
Emergency fund varies for every family, depending on your income and your spending habits. No matter how much you make you can always start working toward your emergency fun. I started saving for our emergency fund about 16 years ago. We were newly married and my husband was a student. We lived on a budget of $200 to spend on food, clothes and other necessities. The rest of the paycheck went into paying the rent and health insurance. I started my emergency fund by tucking away a few dollars every month. My goal was to save $120 by the end of the year and I was able to reach my goal by saving little by little. $120 may not seem like much but using this habit of saving you can save $1200 for your starter emergency fund, and eventually you can reach bigger goals insha Allah,
Please be mindful that you are not relying on the savings, the reliance is on Allah(swt) alone. Anas (ra) reported that once someone asked Prophet Muhammad(sa), “Should I tie my camel and have tawakkul or should I leave her untied and have tawakkul?” RasulAllah (sa) “Tie her and have tawakkul.” (Hasan) (Jami At-Tirmidhi)
By saving money you’re tying you camel. Your’re putting your best efforts while accepting what Allah(swt) has destined for you. And here are the steps you can take to save up for your emergency fund-
1. Find your purpose-
Finding your purpose is the most important step to attain any goal. Your resolute purpose is your “why” which will help you endure challenges and overcome setbacks along the way until you reach your goal. For example, my purpose for saving was to live a debt and interest free life to please Allah (swt). It helped me refocus during hard times and rise above the days I didn’t feel too motivated to save money.
2. Set a realistic goal-
You want to set a realistic goal that you can accomplish over a certain period. So, start small and then go for a bigger goal insha’Allah. For example, you can start with a goal of saving $1200 for your family’s emergency fund in one year. Now break it down to small steps- plan to start saving $100 every month, or $25 every week. Now, $25 may not sound much in the beginning. But you will have $1200 at the end of 48 weeks and that’s pretty impressive for a starter emergency fund.
3. Come up with a budget–
You need to come up with a budget that would allow you save money to reach your goal for an emergency fund. Remind yourself how wonderful it will be to have a chunk of money at your disposal during stressful times. Don’t know how to come up with a budget? I have talked about making a budget here-
4. Stick to the plan-
You need to stick to your budget to save up for your emergency fund. Saving for your emergency fund can’t depend on your mood, you must be diligent about it to make it work. Be aware of your spending tendencies and come up with plans to avoid them. Look for no spend alternatives until you reach your goal. Remember, “The harder you try, the luckier you get.”
Here are ways to cut out expenses to save up-
Convenient foods from coffee shops, fast food, Juice bars and restaurants.
Magazines, cable and Netflix subscriptions.
Various memberships, from rarely used gym membership to Amazon prime- which you can live without.
Hobbies- electronic gadgets, clothes, shoes, accessories, books etc.
And here are ways to cut back to save up-
Processed food- juice, snacks, and desserts etc.
Condiments- ketchup, soy sauce, mayonnaise etc.
Frozen meals- Prepared meals like waffles, samosas, tater tots etc.
Disposable and single use products- plates, utensil, paper towel etc.
Toiletries- Make ups and perfumes that you don’t need.
Other ways to reduce expenses-
Do errands in batches to save on gas.
Reduce the temperature of your water heater.
Wash clothes is cold water, line dry if possible.
Take good care of your clothes and shoes.
Reuse and repurpose as much as you can.
Program your thermostat.
Take homemade lunch, snacks and drink.
5. Make lots of dua-
Remember Allah (swt) in your journey to financial freedom. Make dua for resilience, motivation and focus. Thank Allah (swt) for each of your victories like when you have saved up for the first month and so on. Allah (swt) can make it easy with ease. Be grateful to Him and He will open doors for you that will blow your mind.
6. Be Positive-
Always try to keep a positive attitude. Don’t give up thinking what your saving amounts to nothing or you are not good at saving money. Keep making dua and work hard at it. Take small but consistent steps to success insha Allah.
7. Keep your promise-
Thank Allah (swt) and celebrate once you reach your goal. But be sure not to spend the money in your emergency fund for anything other than an emergency. And no, getting a newer phone or a bigger flat screen tv do not fall under emergency situation.
It can be a challenge if you are new to saving. You might be thinking what’s the point of saving so little and if it would amount to anything great. You might wonder if life is too short to trek through weeks or months to save up for an emergency fund. But trust me, you will be relieved once you reach your goal. I have known people who had a six-figure salary and had to ask for charity when they ran into a crisis.
I started out to save $10 per month and saved $120 dollar for our emergency fund. Eventually we were able to save more and more because of the habit of saving up for our emergency fund. Alhamdulillah now we can give consistently to our favorite charities, sponsor a number of orphans and support causes while living a debt and interest free life.
You never know when life will throw you a curve ball. An emergency fund keeps you better prepared for life’s twists and turns. I hope you reach your goal to save up for an emergency fund for $1200 or more insha’Allah.