As some readers may be aware, I’ve never had an emergency fund.
During the ‘dark old days’ when I wasn’t in control of my finances, whenever there was an emergency, out came the credit cards and I just got into more debt.
When I eventually paid off my debts, I still didn’t build up an emergency fund – I used credit cards again, only this time, at 0% with plans to pay them off in full before the 0% ran out. It’s worked for me for the past 5-6 years.
So it did kind of surprise me that most PF/FI blogs I read advised building up an emergency fund equivalent to several months of your salary (some even recommending 6 months!). The more I read, the more I warmed to the idea of building such funds, so as one of my goals for 2016, I set a target to build an initial pot of £1k by the end of the year.
I know £1k isn’t much, but I have to start somewhere. In fact, at the end of December 2015, I had a starting emergency pot of £237.47.
The thing is, we’re still only in January and I’m having to dip into my fund already!
The other day, I broke part of a tooth (I was eating fish fingers and yes, they were cooked, which is what both my boss and my dentist asked me, haha!).
Fortunately, it wasn’t one of my front teeth, which would have been devastating but one of the back ones. However, I needed to get it patched up quickly or risk more damage being done to the tooth.
The cheapest option to sort it out was £222.50 and that’s NHS price! The days of free dental treatment on the NHS while I was a student are long gone!
If I wanted it done on private healthcare, the cost was in excess of £600… I of course went for the more reasonable option!
The work’s not covered under my company medical policy because it’s classed as ‘cosmetic’. I have a dental plan where I can claim back around 50% but it takes a while for the claim to be processed, so I’m most grateful to dip into the emergency fund to pay the dental bill in full.
I do make an effort to look after my teeth – I always attend my twice-yearly check-ups, use an electric toothbrush, floss fairly regularly and even use those funny little inter-dental brush things that dental hygienists recommend. My diet these days is pretty ‘teeth friendly’ too, ie plenty of calcium and I don’t tend to snack on sweets or chocolate.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I wasn’t so great looking after my teeth when I was younger, had a far greater penchant for sweets and chocolates than I do now and by the time I was a teenager, I had a mouthful of fillings.
I now have the task of dealing with the expense of maintaining the repaired teeth which will continue to suffer from wear and tear as I get older.
This has really convinced me of the importance of building up an emergency fund to cover things like this, so I’ll be making all efforts to balance investing with saving into the fund this year.
I did consider setting up a ‘Teeth Fund’, but that sounds too much like I’m saving up for a full set of dentures – really, I’m not that old or there yet, haha!
Anyway, fingers crossed no more mishaps before I get the emergency fund topped back up!