The most effective emergency fund, for use in the event of a job loss or unexpected major expense, is actually a combination of several types of investments. You should be prepared with a small amount of physical cash to hold you over until you can get money from a bank, highly liquid investments like a high-yield savings account, a Roth IRA (if you qualify) in which your contributions can be withdrawn penalty-free and tax-free, and possibly credit access.
NZbird wrote to suggest an interesting addition to an emergency food: a stocked pantry. By stocking up on non-perishable food items, you will leave more of your money available for use in the event of an emergency.
Keep your food pantry WELL STOCKED. I mean food is an essential right. And if you have kids you don’t want them stressing out because the basics like food aren’t there. So stock up your pantry real good with all the ingredients for meals. I try to keep around 6 months supply on hand. My husband use to laugh at me when I started doing it, but you know it introduced a discipline into our grocery shopping that wasn’t there before… The kids always knew the ingredients were in the cupboard for lunches, breakfast, and any snacks they wanted to make. I believe it’s that feeling of security and hope for the future that must be maintained for the sake of the children in times of job loss.
At first, the thought of stocking up on food seemed more like preparation for a pandemic, but the main point is that if your income is suddenly grounded, you won’t have to worry about spending your emergency fund for food and will have more available for rent or mortgage payments and electricity bills.
Thanks for the suggestion, NZbird!
Published or updated February 27, 2008.