Emergency Fund Calculator

Somebody call 911; your emergency fund needs help. Our Emergency Fund Calculator takes into account your housing, transport, and food costs to tell you how much you need to save in order to future-proof your emergency fund.

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What is an Emergency Fund Calculator?

An emergency fund is a specific amount of cash that people keep aside to meet unexpected expenses such as a medical situation, unforeseen home or car repairs, or day-to-day living costs after the loss of a main source of income. The emergency fund is intended to be quickly accessible when needed, so the expenses can be met on short notice and the person does not have to approach a bank or other type of lender to receive the funds they need.

While there are varying opinions on the optimal size of the emergency fund budget, the general consensus falls within three to six months of your average monthly expenditures. In other words, if you spend an average of $3,000 per month, your emergency fund should ideally be somewhere between $9,000 to $15,000.

The Hardbacon Emergency Fund calculator enables you to evaluate what your monthly expenditures are across various categories to assess how much of a cushion you need. The calculator can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Tracking monthly expenditures across housing, food, transport, and other major expenses
  • Understanding the size of the emergency fund you can afford to build up and maintain
  • Calculating and covering any shortfalls in your existing emergency fund if needed

 

How to use the Hardbacon Emergency Fund Calculator

Based on your personal emergency saving goal, you can enter the number of months on the top cell next to the question ‘How many months do you want your emergency fund to last’? The number you enter here acts as a multiplier for the monthly volume of expenses you enter as explained below.

Depending on their own unique lifestyles, people may have a wide range of expenses that they are accountable for each month. The Hardbacon Emergency Fund Calculator breaks down these expenses into four channels, namely:

  • Housing expenses (comprised of rent/mortgage payments, utility bills, home maintenance fees, property tax, home insurance, and other housing expenses)
  • Transportation expenses (comprised of car payments, gas bills, public transit costs, car insurance, and other transportation expenses)
  • Food and healthcare (comprised of food, personal hygiene products, life insurance, child care costs, and other food and healthcare expenses)
  • Loans and other expenses (comprised of monthly loan payments, credit card payments, education expenses, and other loan expenses)

To enter your expenses for each channel, simply hover over and click the relevant tab (i.e., the text on the light gray background) located under the ‘How long do you want your emergency fund to last?’ question. Make sure you click on and review each of the 4 separate tabs to ensure that you enter all expenses applicable to you for the most accurate results.

 

Understanding the results of the Emergency Fund Calculator

Once all your expenses have been input correctly, you should start seeing the results take shape before your eyes. The Hardbacon Emergency Fund Calculator displays two sets of results for your convenience if you want to prioritize a certain channel of expenses over another in the short term.

The results are displayed as follows:

  • Under each channel (Housing expenses, Transportation expenses, Food and healthcare, and Loans and other expenses), you will see a ‘Total for x months of expenses’ where ‘x’ is the number of months you entered for the size of your emergency fund and the ‘’ is the specific tab that you have chosen.

This number provides you with a view of how much that particular channel’s expenses add up to over the months that you have selected your emergency fund for.

  • The final result is displayed towards the bottom of the screen. Based on your total monthly expenses and the amount of months that you have targeted your emergency fund to last, the final number will show up in the following format: ‘Your answers indicate that your monthly expenses are $x. You want your emergency fund to last for y months. As a result, you will need $z to do so:

The ‘x’ in this situation is your total monthly expenditure across all of your channels.

The ‘y’ refers to the number of months you entered as an input for your emergency fund

The ‘z’ multiplies the ‘x’ and ‘y’. For example, if your ‘x’ is $3,000 per month and your ‘y’ is 5 months, your ‘z’ will be $15,000. This implies that you need to have $15,000 saved up to support your budgeted living expenses for 5 months.  

 

Learn more about the Emergency Fund Calculator Inputs

While the number of tabs and inputs may seem daunting at first, we can break them down into channels to make the calculator easy to understand.

Let’s start with the number of months that you want your emergency fund to last. This is a personal preference. Based on reports from hiring agencies, the average candidate takes between two to six months to find a new job from the day they start looking. You can use this statistic as a proxy or you can budget for extra months too if you are looking to maximize your safety net.

Next, let’s dive into each particular channel of expenses:

Housing expenses:

  •   Rent/mortgage: Depending on whether you rent or own your home, you can input either the monthly rent you pay your landlord or the monthly mortgage you owe to the lender.
  •   Utilities: This field requires you to add the total amount of hydro, heating, Wi-Fi expenses, etc. that you pay to a service provider each month.
  •   Home maintenance fees: Applicable mainly to homeowners.
  •   Property tax: Applicable only to homeowners.
  •   Home insurance: If you are a homeowner, you likely have home insurance premiums you pay monthly. If you are renting your home, you may have tenant insurance premiums.

Transportation expenses:

  •   Car payments: If you have bought a car on loan or lease your vehicle, the monthly payment should be input here.
  •   Gas: Approximation of your monthly gas bills. You can take a 3-month average for best results.
  •   Public transit: If you have a transit pass or buy tickets on an ad-hoc basis to commute around your city, add the average amount per month here.
  •   Car insurance: Applicable to vehicle owners.

Food and healthcare:

  •   Food: This represents your monthly grocery bills or amounts that you spend at local restaurants, eateries, or at-home deliveries (such as UberEats, DoorDash, etc.)
  •   Personal hygiene products: Think toothpaste, mouthwash, toilet paper, shaving cream, razors, or feminine hygiene products that you buy on a monthly basis.
  •   Life insurance: If you have an outstanding life insurance policy, add in the monthly premiums.
  •   Child care: Babysitting costs or other expenses that go towards the care of a child

Loans and other expenses:

  •   Loan payments: If you have personal loans that you have taken out, add in the monthly principal and interest repayments here. Note that you do not have to add in your mortgage or auto loan payments here as that has already been covered in the channels above.
  •   Credit card payments: Check your credit card bills for any expenses such as a cup of coffee or the movie you went to watch recently. Ensure that you do not double count anything that you have already accounted for in previous channels listed above.
  •   Education expense: This covers your monthly student loan payments. If you are currently in school, divide your annual fees by 12 to get a monthly figure.

How to start building your emergency fund

Life is unpredictable. If you haven’t already started building an emergency fund for unforeseen expenses, it is a good idea to do so to prevent unpleasant surprises from damaging your financial health down the line. Some emergency fund baby steps you can integrate today are:

Start small: Break down your emergency savings goal into milestones and work towards each milestone instead of having a big scary number right from the start.

Open a savings account just for your emergency fund: This way, you can clearly distinguish the funds you need to use for your day-to-day expenses and the funds that you have kept aside for a rainy day.

Have a minimum monthly savings goal: After you have taken care of your other expenses, ensure that you put at least this minimum amount to your emergency fund.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is an emergency fund?

    An emergency fund is a reserve that you keep aside to help you cover your day-to-day living expenses such as housing, transport, food, and other loan payments you owe on a monthly basis in the event that you lose your job or other primary source of income. It is also useful in meeting emergency expenditures such as your car breaking down or repairs in your home.

  • 2. How do you calculate your emergency fund ratio?

    The emergency fund ratio is calculated by dividing your total cash available by your monthly non-discretionary expenses. Non-discretionary means that these expenses have to be paid regardless of your financial situation. These expenses include items like rent, mortgage, food, loan payments, etc. On the other hand, discretionary items like entertainment expenses (watching a movie, going out to eat at a fancy restaurant, etc.) can be excluded from this calculation.

  • 3. Should I invest my emergency fund?

    Your emergency fund should be readily available for you to withdraw in the case of an actual emergency. That means that the funds in it should ideally remain easily accessible at all times. As such, it may not be wise to invest your emergency fund into markets like equities or crypto where volatility can cause your capital to fluctuate in the short to medium term.

    However, you can invest your funds into savings accounts offered by banks, credit unions, and other lenders that offer a set rate of growth each year while still allowing you the flexibility to withdraw at any time. You can use our savings account comparison tool to help you make your decision on where you want to deposit your emergency fund.

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