Establish an Emergency Fund

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emergency fund

I recently read Paul Martinelli’s loving story about trying to get to his grandmother, Bella, before she died. He wanted so badly to hold her hand one more time and to tell her he loved her. He tried making travel arrangements to leave immediately, but couldn’t afford the $600 ticket. He had to wait three days to get a supersaver ticket, and when he finally got there, his dear Bella had already passed away. He was too late because he didn’t have the money to get to her in time.


He decided at that point that he would never allow himself to sink so low again. He would never be in the position that he couldn’t afford to be close to his family if he needed or wanted to be.

How helpless would you feel if you needed to be there for someone you love, and money was the only thing holding you back?

What if this was the only chance you were given?

What can you do to make sure you’re never caught in this predicament?

Establish an emergency fund! At the very least, have a credit card that isn’t maxed out so you can use it if you have to. In Dave Ramsey’s, “Total Money Makeover,” he teaches the reasons why you should not only get rid of your credit cards, but get rid of the balances. Once you do that, he teaches the importance of the emergency fund. If you have a baby emergency fund of about $1,000, then you won’t ever have to use the credit cards again.

Here’s why an emergency fund is so important. There are just some things you can’t plan for, and the older you get, the more surprises come your way. Believe me. These are just a few that I’ve experienced.

Last week we got a family email telling us that my husband’s cousin had gallbladder cancer. A few days later I got an update saying that the doctors were giving him three to six months to live, but agreed there was nothing they could do for him. They sent him home to die and the family started to gather from all over the country. Today’s update told me that David had passed away this morning. With today’s gas prices, it could be a real hardship for some to even drive to the funeral. It would take some serious calculating to see if it would be less expensive to fly or drive, and if you have to rent a car when you get there, that just adds to the cost.

Sometimes you have some advance warning, and sometimes you don’t. Last year when we were told my mother wouldn’t live another week or two, there were grandkids in other states who wanted to see her one last time.

My niece called the airline to make a reservation. The usual fare of a couple of hundred dollars more than doubled on such short notice. When she told them that she needed to make this trip because her grandmother was dying, they told her about the bereavement fare. They said if she brought back the documentation proving that her grandmother was actually dying, they would refund part of her fare. She bought the ticket, and after going through the hassle of getting what she needed for this “discount”, I think she only got about fifty dollars back. The bereavement fare is a joke. Don’t ever believe that these companies really feel sorry for you. The agent might, but she has to follow company policy, and with so many airlines filing bankruptcy, they’re out to get all they can.

When our friend, Mark, was killed recently on his motorcycle, all the members of his family were en route for a family reunion that weekend. Unfortunately, he was killed before they got there, but his widow found great comfort in being surrounded by their family. But as soon as they all gathered in Houston, they had to start making arrangements to either drive or fly to Kansas. Mark was born in Kansas, grew up there, and that’s where he wanted to be buried. While many of them had probably used credit cards to get to Houston, now they had additional charges to get to Kansas.

Interesting how the place you call “home” as a child is where most people want to be laid to rest when they go back “home.”

My mother had prepaid for her funeral arrangements in Tennessee ten years before her death. She was born in Tennessee, spent a great deal of her life there, and wanted to be buried on the piece of land her family had donated as a cemetery. While my sister had flown to Houston in Mom’s last days to be with her, she now had to go back home, gather her family, and then make the drive to Tennessee. At the same time, we were making our drive from Houston. My sister’s family and mine all met at an off-season lodge with a friendly, family atmosphere. We were all totally surprised when they did give us a discount at our departure. Of course this was in a town of only a few hundred people where everyone knew everyone. They truly were sorry for our loss.

People just don’t grow up and stay in their own hometown anymore, but for some reason we want or need to go back there when this life is over. There’s something comforting about going home, wherever that home is. It’s important to respect their wishes, but it can sure wreak havoc on your time, your bank account, and your emotions if you’re trying to get from Point A to Point B in a short amount of time.

You will still have to deal with emotions when you’re dealing with the loss of someone you love, but if you get that emergency fund started, at least you have the option of being where you need to be.

Copyright 2008 Joyce Moseley Pierce.

All They’ll Need To Know

All They'll Need To Know