If you’ve been saving money in case of a catastrophe, hopefully you’ll never have to use it. But if you are ever forced to dip into your emergency fund, it’s most likely that you’ll use the money to fix your car, your house or your body. A recent survey by GOBankingRates gives valuable insight into the most common expenditures that compel people to tap their emergency funds—and some stand out as being far more common than others. What does this mean for you? By understanding the situations that force people to deplete their emergency funds, you might be able to avoid ever having to use yours.
The survey asked more than 5,000 people the same question: “What situation or reason has made you use money from an emergency savings/fund?” What the answers showed…
Car repair, home repair and medical emergencies are the big three. Overall, roughly a quarter of respondents mentioned each of these as being reasons they had spent money from their emergency funds. However, when you look at what made people of different ages use their funds, the answers became quite different…
Younger and older people tend to bleed their emergency funds for opposite reasons. According to the study, 23% of 18-to-24-year-olds, reported tapping their emergency funds to deal with rising living expenses…and that percentage dropped consistently for each older age group up to and beyond 65 years old. Meanwhile, that youngest age group was the least likely to have used emergency funds for home repairs, with older age groups being more and more likely to have done so.
Other emergencies to consider. About 20% of respondents reported tapping their emergency savings in the wake of a job loss. About 17% cited cost-of-living increases, and 11% blamed expenses related to a sudden move.
Smart: Unlike some other types of possessions, your car and house are critical components of your life that must remain in working order. To avoid having to deplete emergency funds, follow preventive maintenance schedules for both, and fix minor issues while they’re still manageable. Ignoring small problems with either can lead to larger issues that will eventually become too big to ignore, which could force you to deplete your emergency fund. You might also consider investing in supplemental warranties that cover significant damage and repairs.
If you’re older, also consider setting aside more money than you think you’ll ever need for home repair.