Is There Such A Thing As An Emergency?

Financial writers (myself included) often talk about the “emergency fund.” This is money you set aside so that you can pay for things like medical expenses, car repairs, home repairs, or some other sudden, necessary expense. Having extra money set aside means (ideally) that you don’t have to pull out the credit card to pay for these expenses.

But is there really such a thing as an “emergency” when it comes to financial matters? I’m not so sure there is. My dictionary defines “Emergency” as: “A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.” “Unexpected” is the word that hangs me up. Most o


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6 Responses to Is There Such A Thing As An Emergency?

  1. Jay says:

    Well said!
    Another point, in distinguishing “emergencies” is the difference between wants and needs. Maybe you want a new dishwasher, should it break, but do you need it?
    A determining question could be “Can you wait until there’s money, or not?”
    Medical issues, don’t wait! New car, appliance, maybe you can wait for the cash versus charging (if nothing in savings).
    Based on this, one would set aside -for sure- enough to cover medical co-pays, insurance deductibles, and whatever else falls under “must haves”.

  2. Alex says:

    This article seems like it should be advocating insurance more than an emergency fund, but I wholeheartedly agree with everything mentioned in it.

  3. carnette says:

    Many of your articles are overly simplistic and critical. To say “put enough money aside for health issues” is absurd. Here is why I say that. Ideally sure, but life isn’t ideal. I was 27, my husband 29, we were both working, I was setting aside 5% into savings,and had about $2,000 in my emergency fund, we had good health insurance. Then the unideal happened all in one day, I came back from maternity leave to find out they had replaced me with a full time person and my husband was diagnosed with cancer. You can’t tell me this wasn’t a “serious, unexpected, dangerous situation that required immediate action.” Just because a situation can happen, doesn’t mean it’s expected. There was no way I could have been prepared financially, or emotionally for a blow like that. I have other hard blows I could mention in my life that beat me up financially and emotionally. Sometimes there isn’t enough time between blows to recover financially before another “Unexpected” comes. Please add some compassion to your writting. Everything isn’t as cut and dry as you write it to be.

  4. Jacqueline says:

    Well said! I agree 100% that’s the same point I tried making earlier this year on my blog and I got some very hateful and not so nice comments as well! Keep up the great work don’t change yourself because others don’t share your same views to heck with them! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion whether liked or not like-minded individuals always think alike! 😉

  5. Gail says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Carnette. I left work one day years ago at 11AM due to extreme pain. I never could have thought then that I would never be back. I had been saving and planning to care for myself in my later years, but those later years came much sooner than anticipated. Suddenly I was on disability bringing in 1/3 of what I had before and trying to get any savings out of what we have coming in is slim to impossible, but we try. But that does mean that at times we have to revert to the credit cards and it sure isn’t for mindless wants. We live a simple frugal life because that is all we can do.

  6. Roberto says:

    My wife is very diligent about us saing for a financial emergency. Our definition of a financial emeregency is when a large unexpected expense comes our way. Example: car breaks down and we need to shell out $2,000. We have the funds to pay cash and not have to charge it on a credit card and end up paying more because we have to pay interest on top of that.

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