Saturday, March 28, 2009

I love you, Suze Orman.

I do. I love her. Because we never get to go out on Saturday nights (well, we could, but we're often too cheap to get a sitter and too tired to wrangle our deceptively innocent-looking son at a restaurant), Trent and I see her on her show every weekend. I think it's a great program. She alerts people to things that they might not otherwise know - for instance, how to deal with debt collectors or how much to put into a retirement account during a recession etc. etc. Suze Orman is a financial goddess. Go Suze!

Still, sometimes I feel a little perplexed by her advice - namely, her advice regarding emergency funds.

Suze is a big advocate of having an emergency fund that contains eight months' worth of living expenses. Now, I don't want to get into our personal financial nitty-gritty here, but between our mortgage, our student loan payments, our credit card payment, grocery bills, gas and electric bills, monthly homeowner's association dues, and random stuff like oil changes and doctor's visits, let's say that we have minimum monthly expenses of $3000. 

Essentially, then, we're supposed to have $24,000 in an emergency fund.  

...No problem. We'll get right on that. 

But tonight, Suze suggested that people try to have a years' worth of savings in their emergency funds. The rationale is that the economy is terrible, unemployment is high, there are no guarantees, and so on and so forth. 

So that would ramp up our ideal emergency savings to $36,000. And that's just for the emergency fund. That's not for all of the other funds people talk about these days: college savings fund, car fund, vacation fund, holiday gift fund...

Honestly? By the time we save up $36,000, we'll probably have recovered from this recession and entered the next one. Kidding. When there's a will, there's a way. Currently, we have steady jobs; there's no reason we can't save. But still, for us, saving that amount of money is going to take a good long time. It isn't something that's going to happen by the end of 2009. Or 2010. It's just a little overwhelming. 

I'm curious to see what people think. Does a years' worth of savings seem reasonable? Am I just way out of the loop in terms of thinking that this is a lot of money for an emergency fund? Is everyone else way, way ahead of me? If so, did you start saving when you were, like, six years old?

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