There are all kinds of things that can interrupt even the best career plans: getting laid off; a parent who needs your help or care for several months; an accident. It would be lovely if we could go through our lives without ever experiencing an unexpected gap in income, but the reality is that, for most people, a time will come when the checks stop coming.
We all know that we should have a safety net.
Conventional wisdom used to be that a couple of months’ worth of savings in the bank was enough to get through a tough time. But, today, things are a bit more complicated, and it’s time to update the best practices for how much to keep on hand.
Sole Breadwinner & Business Owner
Different situations call for different solutions. Let’s start with the toughest case. If you are the sole breadwinner, and you own your own business, you need to have the biggest stash of cash put aside. Why? Because you won’t receive unemployment when your client pipeline dries up, so you can drop down to no income in no time flat, with nothing but your own savings to cushion the fall.
Think about squirreling away your funds in a few different ways:
Here’s the bottom line: Sole breadwinners working for themselves should have six months of savings, plus the value of their deductible in an HSA, and a short- and long-term disability policy that will cover their income in the event of an accident or illness.
As an employee, you may be in a bit better shape. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.
Here’s the bottom line: Employees should have three months of savings. If you don’t have access to an HSA, put aside the value of your deductible as well, so you can cover your health expenses. Double check your disability insurance, and make sure you’re covered for your full salary, if possible.
If you fall somewhere in between these two scenarios, I’d recommend erring on the side of putting away a little more, just in case. Don’t wait until you’re already in a tough spot to start thinking about building up your bank account.