Could You Afford an Emergency?

Easy Ways to Save

Here are five things to cut from your budget:

  • Cable channels. You can always reorder them when your fund is in place.
  • Phone plans. Is that cell phone you supposedly got for emergencies eating up $60 a month? Sign up for a plan that charges you only for the minutes used. Adjust the plan on your home phone to save on the kinds of calls you actually make.
  • Gifts. Make a pact with friends and family to give only homemade holiday and birthday gifts for a year, or set a spending limit.
  • Entertainment. Visit the library for books and videos. "Lose" your collection of takeout menus for a while too.
  • Bad banking behavior. Do you use ATMs that charge a fee? Rack up late charges on bills? Pay a high interest rate on credit cards? Quit these bad habits now. If you must use credit, get a card that gives you cash back at stores where you shop often.
  • Does saving money still seem impossible? Get help with our printable budget spreadsheet at

Unlucky Breaks

Sometimes the situations that send us into a tailspin aren't real emergencies -- but they still put a big dent in our bank account. Do you have the savings to cover these not-so-rare occurrences?

  • Insurance deductible in case of a car accident: $500 to $2,000 or more, depending on your plan
  • Four new tires: $500
  • New hot-water heater: $500
  • Root canal, without dental insurance: Up to $1,200 per molar
  • Exterminator fee: $250
  • A trip to the emergency room: $500

Copyright ? 2006. Reprinted with permission from the November 2006 issue of Parents magazine.

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