The Emergency Fund: You Need One, Here's How

Crap happens, that’s a reality we all have to live with. A couple of years ago, my beloved PT Cruiser threw a rod. It cost 1500 dollars to fix. I had half of it, and the rest came out of my paycheck. It got pretty tight around here for a few weeks. It taught me a very important lesson: You need to have a fund for when the crap happens. Not a lot of us do, and we end up hitting the Ramen Noodles for a week, metaphorically (or actually) speaking.

Part of the Year of No Bullshit project is putting systems in place to make sure that when life throws the curveball, you’re ready to swing at it. Hence, the need for an emergency fund. Something liquid that can be accessed quickly. In this case, it’s my change jar.


This is no ordinary change jar, friends. This thing is a 5 gallon glass jar that used to have pickles in it. It belonged to my dad, and it was full of pennies. I’ve put the pennies into the savings account, and now I’m filling it with everything. Here’s how I do it.

First, as part of my usual weekly transactions, 10 dollars goes into the jar. I take an allowance from my checking account, and that is my money to spend forthe week. All the change from that paper money goes into the jar as well.

How much is in there now, I have no idea. Frankly, I lost count. To be honest, it works better for me that way, because if I know how much is in there, my brain figures out things to do with it. I’m safer not knowing until (and if) the time comes that I need it. What I know for sure is that money needs to go in it every week.

at 10 dollars a week, I’ll have one thousand in the jar within two years. Saving doesn’t have to be immediate, and I think that’s a roadblock people have trouble wrapping their head around. Save something, even if it’s a dollar. Save what you can, when you can, and make sure you leave it there as long as you can. You never know when the day will come when you need it.

When that day comes, you won’t stress out. It’s there to be used. if the day never comes, congratulations. Don’t spend it. Continue building. Buy a second glass jar with part of it and continue building.

Your kids might need it.