It wasn’t the first hurricane we had experienced at this duty station. But it would be the worst. And it would be the natural disaster that I came to really, really appreciate an emergency fund. When Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina in 2018, my family of five was displaced for nearly two weeks. We had to pay for hotels, the laundromat, and the cost of being in a new state during an emergency trying to keep busy while waiting for news of how base housing had fared. Having access to money outside of our typical budget was absolutely crucial. If your family does not have at least a $1000 emergency fund, there are some simple steps to take to ensure you don’t have to worry (as much) when something unexpected comes up, like a hurricane.
Our lives tend to be more chaotic than most, and maybe it feels wrong to you to talk about those “what ifs”. It is sometimes easier to think that disaster won’t happen to you, or maybe that if it does, the military will be there to help. But setting aside dedicated time to discuss your emergency preparedness when there is no emergency on the horizon is a prudent way to make sure your family knows what resources will be available to them should they need it. It is not inviting trouble to be prepared for trouble. Navy Mutual is great example of an available resource. Providing products such as life insurance and annuities, Navy Mutual can help set your family up down the road for financial preparedness and success bot now and in the long run.
The very nature of emergencies means you weren’t expecting it; having a financial buffer to help in a stressful situation is a good way to provide some peace of mind.
I know very few people, especially service members and their families, who could put aside $1000 all at once from one paycheck, and have their day-to-day finances be okay. The goal is not to create a financial emergency while preparing for a financial emergency. Look at what you typically spend your money on as a family, and decide, as a family, what is a reasonable amount to set aside every paycheck (or every month). Maybe you’ll opt to eat in on Friday nights and cook together instead of ordering pizza, and set aside $30 every week. Maybe you’ll pack lunches three days a week, and save everyone’s lunch money. Do not be discouraged by starting with a small amount. You’ll be surprised by how quickly it adds up.
Remember those posters of thermometers at school for raising funds? It was so satisfying to see the color rise as you met your goals. You can do that, too! Maybe it won’t be a paper thermometer to fill in (or maybe it will!), but measuring your progress can help encourage you and keep you motivated to continue on. Shoving dollar bills into your safe without counting them CAN work, but it definitely isn’t as effective as actually keeping track.
Sometimes, things happen. Maybe you got sick, and didn’t have the energy to cook and ordered pizza. It’s okay. Maybe you needed to take a kid to urgent care and need to pay the Tricare deductible this month instead of saving the money. It happens. Give yourself grace to deal with daily life, but don’t get discouraged and give up.
It doesn’t matter if it took you longer to save than your neighbor down the street. Or if you “should have” done this a whole lot sooner and just didn’t. You’re doing it now, and that counts for something. You sat down, had hard conversations, sacrificed, and met a goal. That’s exciting! I’m proud of you, and you should be proud of you, too!
MilHousing Network is a proud partner of Navy Mutual. For more information on providing financial security for your loved ones, click here.
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