Not to mention and FDIC insured account is more secure than your mattress.
I’ve used this technique for years - well, not at the moment because, due to job loss last November, I don’t have the sort of job where that is feasible at the moment, but I used automatic deductions for savings, for paying off a small loan, for setting aside money for taxes (I have occasionally had 1099’s at the end of the year for freelance work) and so on - it’s a great option.
My husband and I paid off our major debt years ago - once you’re out from under 15% interest you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to breathe. Since then we’ve had a couple vehicle loans (paid off) and one year with major out-of-pocket medical expenses we took out a small loan from a credit union at a lower-than-credit-card rate, paid off everyone, and used payroll deductions to pay off that loan.
Actually, I always heard it as “six months living expenses”. The point is, have a cushion of this nature.
Please note this needs to be in cash or equivalent - something you can liquidate quickly, without hassle. In other words, not real estate, not your 401(k) (which you can take a loan from, but then you’re paying interest again).
Just be cautious - my husband and I got a flexible spending account for health care and it turned into a complete nightmare, it was a horrible experience - they kept screwing up, we were threatened with an audit for the FSA manager’s errors, and it was just awful. So, as with everything, keep your eyes open.
No, hon - you need the emergency fund FIRST - you must pay for today before you invest for tomorrow. Once you have your emergency fund you can weather job interrupts, stock market crashes, whatever, much better.
If I had fully funded my retirement I would not have had any savings – and it’s those savings that have kept my head above water this past year of on-again, off-again unemployment. I would have either gone into serious, serious debt (as it is, I have none) or even been out on the street.
It’s strictly my own opinion, but I find having that “six month’s living costs” in the bank to be extremely valuable in staying out of debt, and staying out of debt is a good thing. (yes, auto loans and home mortgages are reasonable reasons to be debt, but you have to keep those managable).