I actually used my emergency fund!

I think I’ve hit an exciting new milestone in my personal finance development: I actually used my emergency fund to pay for an emergency!

The backstory on this is my lengthy love-hate (mostly meh-hate) relationship with my EF. In short, I have had trouble getting excited about an EF. I didn’t have one for a while, then I slowly built it up to $5000 in the world’s most boring savings campaign, then I promptly nearly drained it in order to fill up my Roth IRA when the markets were very low, and at some point in there I discovered that I would rather be in debt than use my EF cash.

So it actually totally does feel like progress that this week I was very uncomfortable with carrying a $775 car repair on my credit card into next month — so uncomfortable that I took the cash out of my EF and paid the credit card right away. I am expecting a big stipend check sometime in the next few weeks (long story, it’s for an academic project) and plan to fill the EF right back up again. But I’d originally intended to just keep the money sitting on my card and pay for it out of the stipend check. It kind of feels cool that in the end I just couldn’t stand it. I wanted my card back to “normal” — which is now hovering between $0 and $200, instead of routinely being up in the $1000-2000 range. And in order to pay it off, I didn’t have to scramble, or dip into my down payment savings, because I literally had an entire savings account set aside to handle just such situations.

Y’all, I think I get why this is cool now.


14 thoughts on “I actually used my emergency fund!

  1. I probably would have some similar thoughts on whether or not it’s worthwhile to use our EF, but I think you made the right decision! If that stipend doesn’t come through in a timely manner (ugh, university reimbursement/payroll systems are so slow!) you would have to pay off the card using the EF anyway, and now you’re not messing with your utilization ratio for the next few weeks.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Most university pay systems suck! I’m grateful that my own is typically very quick with reimbursements; after I turn the paperwork in I usually get the $$ direct-deposited within a week. But I’m currently waiting for a big travel reimbursement from another university (three weeks and counting; wrote them this morning to inquire) as well as for this stipend from a third university (was “processed” on Friday, whatever that means, so at least I know it’s really in the works) and I’m all “OMG, guys, whatever happened to just sending cold hard cash in the mail? Can we speed this up please?”

      1. That’s quite quick, really. I’m currently waiting on a reimbursement from travel I did in January 2016, and I’ve had 4-month waiting periods to get paid by two other universities. Of course, I expect them to move slower with independent contractors than employees.

  2. Mariana says:

    And the best part? What you used is not even 1/5th of what you had in the EF! This is what it was for. Well done

  3. ZJ Thorne says:

    This is a great milestone. Reminding us why we set aside our money in the first place.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yes, I feel weirdly adult about the whole thing 🙂

      1. ZJ Thorne says:

        I almost always love feeling weirdly adult. Congrats, again. I enjoy reading your posts.

  4. Money Beagle says:

    Sounds like a good reason to me! Sucks that you had to use it, but great that it was there when you needed to.

    1. thesingledollar says:


  5. Jason says:

    I know that feeling on this one. We have a tree that we need to cut down because of my wife’s allergies and the fact that it needs to go. That is $580 I need to put on my credit card. Plus, I had a wonderful little surprise from my mortgage company who unexpectedly took out a mortgage payment that I didn’t think I scheduled. So I am $2200 in the hole. I will be able to cover all of this next week, but it delays my debt payoff and getting my emergency fund back on track.

    It sucks that these things happen. At least you have the money to cover it.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      “At least you have the money to cover it” is like my new motto! I’m sorry about the extra mortgage payment, but glad that you can handle it….

  6. Debt Hater says:

    I’ve always kept an emergency fund because I’ve been nervous that multiple bad things might occur at the same time, and I would hate carrying a balance on my credit card even if I could pay it off quickly. I’d rather dip into cash first and leave the credit card as the last resort. I guess I consider the credit card to be the “backup to the backup” because you never know what sort of curve ball is going to come your way.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, it’s honestly good to have as many layers of backup as possible.

  7. Hey, that’s what it is for!

    I’m thankful not to have needed my emergency fund since I started building it last year, but it feels great to have it.

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