- In the event that we enter a recession because of the coronavirus crisis, it's important to have enough savings on hand to cover any lost income.
- An emergency fund is a critical tool for protecting yourself, but relying on it to replace your income means those funds disappear fast.
- I decided to ask experts how to "recession-proof" an emergency fund to ensure that money lasts as long as possible.
- They advised adding extra money to your savings now, cutting back on expenses, paying down debt, and having enough insurance to cover you so you're not relying solely on your savings.
- See Business Insider's picks for the best high-yield savings account
With so much uncertainty happening in the world right now, talk of a possible recession really keeps me up at night. I've spent quite some time building up my finances and growing my own business, and a recession would threaten all that I and so many others have worked hard for.
One thing I've spent years working on is building up an emergency fund. I started doing this by setting and sticking to a tight budget. Then, I made sure I put money into it every month so that it would continue to grow. While financial experts recommend putting anywhere between three and six months of living expenses away in an emergency fund, I've always wanted to put away more since I'm self-employed.
If a recession does hit, I want to make sure that my emergency fund won't be drained completely, so I asked financial experts how to make sure my emergency savings is as recession-proof as possible.
Start building up your emergency fund now
For some of us, we hardly think of putting money into an emergency account until an emergency hits and we wish we had a pot of money set aside to help us through a tough time.
Christopher Walsh, a Certified Financial Planner and wealth manager at Keystone Financial Partners, says if you haven't focused on building an emergency fund , now is the time to get started. And if you already have emergency savings, add even more cash.
"This pool of money can make it possible for you to maintain your lifestyle in the event of recession. Depending on your career choice and income, I typically recommend clients target three to six months of expenses," says Walsh.
To make sure you don't confuse that savings account with others you have, Walsh recommends keeping the emergency money in a separate account.
"Having a separate account allows you to easily see how much you have saved and track the progress you're making towards that goal," he says.
Pay down debt
If a recession hits and we find ourselves scrambling to keep up with bills or make up for lost income, we don't want to have to worry about also carrying piles of debt.
"This will create additional breathing room in your budget, which should allow your emergency fund to last longer. Recessions can often lead to an increase in lost jobs paying down these obligations now may bring you more peace of mind in that situation," says Walsh.
Keep it in cash
While it might feel tempting to take some money and put it in the market, you want to make sure your emergency fund is in cash and easily available. You also want to make sure that it doesn't have any risk attached to it.
"Emergency funds are meant to be easy to access when needed (but not so easy they're used like a checking account). Consider keeping emergency fund cash in a savings account so you still have to transfer it to your checking account to use it," says Anna Keisler, CFP. "I understand it's tempting to want to see the money grow, but with investments comes risk the funds may decrease in value."
She recommends keeping the money in a high-yield savings account where it can grow risk-free.
Reduce your expenses now
Even though we're not in a recession right now, there's a lot of uncertainty floating around. One way to prepare for an economic downturn and spare your emergency savings is to make cuts to your spending now.
Dr. Bob Castaneda, program director for Walden University's Master's in Finance program, recommends calculating all income and expenses now and trimming the fat.
"Target the dollar amount of monthly expenses to cut. You can reduce costs by adjusting your thermostat, reducing your car insurance premium, or changing your cell phone plan. Save money on food by preparing your meals, using coupons, buying in bulk, or switching to generic brands," says Dr. Castaneda.
Make sure you have enough insurance
One of the reasons people dip into their emergency savings is to pay for health-related issues. To help prepare for a recession and ensure your emergency fund isn't drained in the event of a health crisis, CFP Steve Battistoni says to plan out your insurance now by securing life, disability, and health insurance to cover you no matter what may come.
- More savings and retirement coverage
- How to retire early
- The best high-yield savings accounts right now
- How to calculate how much money you need to retire
- The banks with the best CD rates
NOW WATCH: Why electric planes haven't taken off yet