Most all personal finance sites with suggest keeping an emergency fund handy, from 3 - 6 months. This money is supposed to cover the monthly expenses that may arise. I don't disagree with this ideas but sometimes socking away 3-6 months is hard to do when debt is high or work hours have been cut.

It is at these times it is a matter of managing the unexpected emergency when there is no savings to draw from. If putting away an emergency fund won't work in the budget, there are some other ways to prepare for what is ahead.

Taking the time now to put yourself in a position to spend as little as possible for a least a month after the emergency will give you time to think and get a handle on your situation.

Stock up on sale items with a long shelf life, such as canned vegetables, fruits, stews and meats. Drink mixes, powdered milk and boxed side dishes that need only water added will also help. Keep track of expiration dates to make sure you use them up before the date and replace them as you go.

If you have pets, stock up on food for them as well in advance. I personally buy 3 months worth of food for my dog (wet,canned food) which has an expiration date that is over a year out.

Put aside toothpaste, bath soap, deodorant, laundry detergent and oil and filter for the car so you can change the oil in the car.

Set yourself up on an average payment with the water, gas or electricity and pay ahead a month if able.

Other Areas:
• Know within $10 how much you will need to survive each month without cutting any expenses, but mark the area that you would be able to reduce in order to save money. If the time comes to cut back you will have that extra money to use in other areas.

• Make yourself aware of groups and services that would be able to assist. Whether they are job aid services, food programs and state social services.

• Check into free services available in your area so that you can find them later with more ease. Know what your library offers, free food services, and living shelters.

• Put yourself into a mindset that you are down to your last $5, how would you take care of of yourself? Where would you go, who would be of help and what areas are necessity and what aren't. Picture yourself with your scarcity switch on and you need to survive and prepare for that as best you can.

Managing the unexpected emergency requires thinking of the worst case and making sure that every dollar counts for something. Once you are done preparing take a step back and be thankful for what you DO have.


  1. Kristin @ klingtocash // Thursday, August 13, 2009 9:46:00 AM  

    Instead of trying to put away 3-6 months of expenses right away, try putting away $1,000 to give yourself a cushion. Most "emergencies" will fall in the $500 to $1000 range. Having that cushion will cover most things you'd have to turn to your credit cards for.

    I like your suggestion of stockpiling. I've got about 3 weeks worth of food in the house so at anytime, my grocery budget could go from $65 per week to about $10 if needed.

    Another good idea is to take those once a year expenses and put 1/12 of money needed in a savings account each month. That way when those expenses come up, you'll have the money put away. That's really helped me feel more secure. I also put money away each month for car repairs and home repairs.

  2. Dawn // Thursday, August 13, 2009 12:14:00 PM  

    Thank you for those additional ideas - you are correct most repairs or emergencies do seem to fall in the 500-1000 dollar range.