Why You Should Not Be Scared To Spend Your Emergency Fund For The Right Reasons

Today, we’re looking at exactly how to handle your emergency fund, so it doesn’t become a source of frustration or stress for you and your family.

Right now, we’re in the third paragraph of Page 13 – 14 in Chapter 1 of Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money.

And here’s my lesson for the day:

You have an emergency fund so you can take care of your emergencies. So when an emergency come up, just spend that money!

Chapter 1, titled Super Saving: Common Sense for Your Dollars and Cents, continues on Page 13 with why you should not be scared to spend your emergency fund on true emergencies.

In this section, Dave told a story about a woman whose truck broke down and was worried about how she would fix it.

Her truck broke down on the way, unexpectedly, and the mechanics told her she’d need to come up with $1,000 to fix the truck.

For one second, put yourself in the place of this woman. What would you do if you were that woman?

You’re out and about today, and just as you’re about to get to your final destination, your car breaks down. The engine stopped and won’t turn back on again.

You thought it was something small, so you keep trying to start the car, but the car just won’t start. You got lucky – you were able to get hold of your friend who drove out to meet you, and who brought a mechanic.

There and then, the mechanic concluded you’d need $1,000 to get the car fixed.

What would you do?

I’ll tell you what I would do.

I’d be angry and frustrated. I’d be livid – and start thinking about the nice places I could be at / nice things I could be doing right now, instead of being in the middle of the road trying to get this car started again.

Soon enough, I’d start getting concerned about the $1,000, and how that money could be better spent on other things that would truly make me happy, instead of this unexpected and ‘unnecessary’ car expense.

That’s right – when we have an emergency come up like this…

… we don’t just have a car crisis, we have a financial crisis too.

But here’s the good news:

If you’ve been saving up for your beginner and full emergency fund; and have gotten out of debt, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Because that’s exactly why you have an emergency fund, right?

So you can have zero worries, but have financial peace.

For me, once I’ve taken care of all 3 Baby Steps, I’ve got no reason to be concerned or worried.

Why?

  1. The money I spend on my car is an essential / key expense. It’s a need, not a luxury
  2. I’m totally prepared for this moment. I’ve got my beginner and full emergency fund ready to be used
  3. My car is fixable. It’d be worse if they said I’d need to get a new car because of some problem that just can’t be fixed… or to come up with $10,000 because some parts are just that expensive to get

For these reasons, I put things into perspective, and I express gratitude for:

  • The cost of the repairs not extremely expensive. It’s $1,000 and I’m sure I’d be fine
  • Building up my financial literacy over time, and being disciplined to consistently save towards my emergency fund, so I can take care of expenses in times like this

So, knowing what I know now, here’s what I’d do about that $1,000 expense on the car that broke down:

  • I’d express gratitude for being in an excellent financial position to handle this expense
  • Go ahead and just pay the $1,000 to fix the car
  • Get the car fixed, and be on my way

Period.

Because here’s the deal:

There are two extremes / challenges that can hurt you as you build up your emergency fund.

Here’s the First Emergency Fund Spending Extreme on one end:

  • Using money from your emergency fund to buy junk you don’t need, or to make payments for expenses that you totally expect and that are not emergencies…
  • … this could hurt you big time. The danger is here is waking up one day with a health, car, or house emergency that you just aren’t ready for…
  • … because you’ve spent all that emergency money on things that were not emergencies
  • … which will stress you and frustrate you, and most likely, get you into stupid debt that you could have avoided by being intentional about building your full emergency fund

The solution to challenge of this first extreme is: to find the discipline to daily commit to building your beginner and emergency fund, no matter what it takes.

And here’s the Second Emergency Fund Spending Extreme on the other end:

  • Not wanting to spend money from your emergency fund on real emergencies
  • … in this case, you’re worried that your fund would go down by $1,000, or $2,000, and so the thought of removing some money that you’ve worked so hard for gives you the jitters…
  • … which will also stress you and frustrate you, and most likely, make you resent yourself for having to spend money on ‘unnecessary’ stuff
  • … which is just not true… because you need to realize: the major reason why you have an emergency fund is for you to spend it on emergencies or necessary expenses
  • so when emergencies come up, why do you frown your face and let tension and frustration get the better of you, when you can simply make that payment from your emergency fund without breaking a sweat ?

The solution to the challenge of this second extreme is: to make that connection between your unexpected expenses and actually using money from your emergency fund to take care of those expenses.

The major reason you have an emergency fund is to take care of your emergency expenses.

Which means…

… when an emergency comes up, don’t get mad, don’t be frustrated, don’t stress it…

… so far you’ve built up your emergency fund…

… just use money from your emergency fund to take care of your unexpected expense.

This is the true definition of financial peace.

You have an emergency fund so you can take care of your emergencies. So when an emergency come up, just spend that money!

That’s all for today, my friend. We’ll continue in the second section of Page 14 of the book tomorrow.

See you then.

-DD

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