September 18, 2012
by Lila Quintiliani, AFC®
Military Saves Assistant Coordinator

I'm writing this post from the local garage, where I will be spending a lot of time for the next couple of days.  It started out innocently enough -- I took my husband's car in because one of his headlights was out.  See, with his make of car (a luxury brand, albeit an 8 year old one) I know you have to basically take the front end off to get to the headlights, so it's not a do-it-yourself kind of project.  But it turns out it's not just the headlight that needs replacing, there's something wrong with the ballast.  We can't drive around without a headlight, so I've got to get it replaced.  For just under $500.  Ouch.

How to Jumpstart Your Savings

And then there's the rims.  A Virginia pothole bent one of my husband's rims badly.  It's actually a safety issue, and it can't be fixed.  Oh, and they don't make his rims any more.  And no one is selling them on eBay.   So we need to get four new rims.  $650 plus installation.  Double ouch.

It's super frustrating, because we are saving up for a whole set of "I Wannas": the holidays, an upcoming trip and a lens for our camera.

BUT we can pay for these repairs up front.  Sure it sets us back some, but we have a healthy emergency fund, so we are going to be able weather this little storm without taking on debt.  We may have lost some ground on achieving our short-term goals, but we'll get there eventually.

Saving For Emergencies

My mom has a saying: Life is what happens when you make plans.  But once you accept that things *will* go wrong, then you need to have a strategy for dealing with them:

1. Set a goal - What are you saving for?  An emergency fund? A washing machine? Your child's education?
2. Make a plan - How much can you set aside each month?  Figure out your income and expenses and get a realistic idea of how much you can save.
3. Save automatically - Set up an allotment or a monthly transfer from your paycheck.

Then, when something comes along to trip you up, feel free to repeat steps one, two and three as needed. 

What other things can you think of that you might need an emergency fund for? Share your ideas with us and others on Facebook.

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