Emergency Funds for Losing Your Job
March 25, 2009
Your emergency fund is your best friend if you lose your job in this bad economy. We’ve had an emergency fund in an online savings account ever since we joined the work force and last week was the first time I thought I might have to use it.
Losing my Job?
One afternoon last week a co-worker mentioned that the product I was hired to work on was being phased out. I stopped by my boss’s desk to find out whether I’d still have a job but he was gone for the day so I spent the evening thinking about being laid off and what it would mean for my family.
My initial reaction was a mild case of panic, we’re having a baby pretty soon, what would I do without a paycheck and health insurance! As I drove home I started walking through the details of how to prepare for a layoff financially in my head and the closer I got to home, the better I felt.
We have over six months of living expenses in online savings accounts, some with ING Direct and some with FNBO Direct. Our emergency fund is the single biggest reason I remained so calm when faced with the possibility of losing my job.
We actually have more than 6 months of worth of expenses saved up but Murphy’s Law makes me worry our expenses might actually increase for unforseen reasons if I was unemployed. So I figure I’d have about 6 months of no income before we ran out of money.
I would qualify for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), which would allow me to buy insurance coverage from my former company for 18 months if I was let go. Of course I’d have to pay the full premiums myself but with a baby on the way it would certainly be worth the money.
I spent several months last fall networking and job searching so my paper and online resume are up to date. I’m fortunate to be in a good career for a recession, there always seems to be demand for computer programmers. Even if I couldn’t find full time work I could get a freelance job here and there to help us get by.
I went into work the next morning after thinking about losing my job all night and had a meeting with my manager and his boss. It turns out everything should be okay, they are phasing out my product but they have a lot more work to do in other areas. It may actually end up being a good change, I’ll be learning a whole new programming language and set of technologies, which will make it easier for me to find a job in the future if I ever do get laid off.
Start an Emergency Fund
Even though everything turned out okay (for now), I’ve never been more glad to have an emergency fund than I was that night. With the security net of 6 months living expenses, the possibility of losing my job seemed a managable crisis. So, if you don’t have an emergency fund, I’d highly recommend starting one this week. You may not have much to contribute but start putting some money away now and over time it will add up.
You can open a separate emergency fund account online tonight, with a online bank like FNBO Direct. It’s easy to do, you can create and fund your account without having to leave your house. Then setup direct deposit and start putting away some money every pay period. You won’t regret it : )
All posts by Ben Edwards