The Power of an Emergency Fund

by Kelly · 7 comments

in A Frugal Family

My grandmother is very sick.

One of the most difficult issues I’ve had to confront since falling in love with a French man and moving overseas, is the fact that we will always be far away from one of our families. Either we’re here, ten minutes away from his parents and 13 hours away (at best) from mine, or we’re close to my family and far from his.

I’ve known for a long time that each time I say goodbye to someone, especially to my grandmother who has been in fragile health for years, that it might be the last time I say goodbye. And when we were in the United States in December that was a very hard realization to have.

Now, however, as the situation reaches a place of urgency, I feel unable to sit at home and wait for someone to call me with some sort of news. So the other day I started scouring online, last-minute fare finders, looking for a way to be able to fly home.

Honestly, if the prices had been in the thousands, I wouldn’t have been able to swing it. But I found two tickets with Swiss Air for less than $800 each, and now my daughter and I have a flight booked for the end of February.

For the first time in a long time, I’ve been able to deal with an emergency without needing to reach for the credit card. We had enough money in emergency fund for me to be able to afford the trip home, and we still have money left over.

I feel really grateful for many things: that I work with a team of people who are understanding about my needs and allow me the flexibility that is so important in times like these and that we’ve been in a financial situation over the past few years that has allowed us to squirrel away, little by little, enough money for times like these. That’s a lesson learned from my grandmother.

What have you used your emergency fund for?


1 MyCreditGroup February 14, 2011

Hi Kelly,

Well congrats on getting some savings set aside. I’m new to your blog and have a question. I notice you have 60K? in debt (according to your bio) Im curious as to how you divide your money between an emergency fund and paying off credit cards (assuming the 60K is credit cards)

This is a topic we debate on our blog and thought this might be the perfect blog to ask another person.



PS. Hope Grandma is doing well. 🙂

2 Kelly February 15, 2011

Hi Marc,

Actually, very little of the debt is credit card debt. I think there’s only about $1500 in credit card debt from our trip home over Christmas and that’s only there because I’ve been meaning to set up online bill pay with my new US bank account, in order to get the advantages the bank offers- I have the money to pay it off in full right now.

The rest of the debt is US student loans and one car loan- all at mostly reasonable interest rates (less than 7%).


3 Dmarie February 14, 2011

well done with the savings. Since you can go home without incurring more debt, you will have no regrets over making the trip. Hoping for the best for you and yours–including your grandmother–during this difficult time.

4 Little Miss Moneybags February 14, 2011

One of my happiest moments was having a family emergency, looking at my bank account, and saying, Yes, I can be on a flight tomorrow morning. The event itself was traumatic and stressful, but to know that I could be there without worrying about paying the rent next month, without caring how much I needed to spend to get there — THAT was priceless.

5 Veronica February 15, 2011

Hi Kelly, Great that you can visit your grandmother. My mother died a couple of years ago. Lives a lot more than 13 hours away (in NZ, while I live in The Netherlands; 40 hours plus) and I was able to be there. My children weren’t (more to do with school years than finance) and found that very difficult – great that your daughter can visit her grandmother. I’ve recently discovered your site and this message touched me. I’d like to be frugal (but live well!) and though I don’t have the debt that I’ve seen you have (had?) my income is very small. I DO have the time therefore to spend with my children and loved ones. Just felt I wanted to respond – again, all the very best with your grandmother. Groetjes, Veronica

6 Mike @ debtdewd February 20, 2011


That’s great that you were able to utilize your emergency fund without dipping into any other credit card or savings funds.

Definitely hope your Grandmother is alright!


7 Sandy H @ Journey To Our Home March 27, 2011

Just found your site and this post spoke to me. It is so nice that you had the money available and did not have to worry about how you would be able to pay off a credit card for the trip.
I definitely agree that it is nice to have a job that understands that you also have a family and allows you the time to take care of that family.
I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. But so glad to hear you are able to go and spend time with her without worrying about money.

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