The Importance of the Emergency Fund

Years ago, most people had a “rainy day” fund – often a savings accounts with several hundred dollars saved for a rainy day. With the introduction of credit, many people stopped saving money for emergencies. It was much easier to simply “charge it”. Lines of credit in stores and the widespread use of credit cards allowed people to take care of their problems instantly – so, the need for an emergency fund disappeared.

What happens if a major kitchen appliance breaks down? Most people go to an appliance store and purchase a new one on credit through the store or charge it to their credit cards. What happens if your car breaks down? Depending on the seriousness of the breakdown, most people pay for the repairs with a credit card, or if the vehicle is beyond repair, run down to the local car dealership and purchase a new vehicle on credit.

For many, this system works fine. For many others, this system is an accident waiting to happen. Large majorities of people who use credit as an emergency fund are often caught off-guard. “Charging it” becomes a habit, and soon everything they acquire is done so on credit. Credit cards are the easiest way for people to live beyond their means and has led to a society of people who want it now! And, often get it now.

The instant gratification of using credit often leads to using that credit to the maximum limits allowed. If you reach that point, and an emergency arises, you may find yourself with no recourse. Many people caught in an emergency that involves loss of work use their credit cards to provide the essentials. This can lead to overextension and even more credit troubles as they find that repaying the credit cards becomes more than their budget can stand.

How do we solve this dilemma? First of all, there is nothing wrong with using credit – if it is used wisely. Secondly, it is important to have an emergency fund to tide you over during emergencies. A typical emergency fund is 3-6 months of expenses. These expenses should include monthly payments such as mortgage or rent, utility payments, credit card payments, car payments, and should allow for expenditures such as food and clothing.

Credit, used wisely, plus an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses can mean the difference between whether an emergency becomes a disaster or whether the emergency is a manageable road block that is quickly recovered from.

Tips For Lowering Your Electricity Bill

With the rising prices and unstable economy, the electric bill has become one of the greatest areas of concern for most people. In some situations, electric bills can cost over half of what you pay for your mortgage or rent. Here are some tips to help you lower your monthly electricity bill:

Tip # 1
Be sure your air conditioner and furnace is the right size for your home. If the unit is too small, it works harder and uses more electricity. If the unit is too large, it is no longer efficient and wastes electricity.

Tip # 2
Window air conditioners should be placed on the shadiest side of your house to prevent the unit from working harder than necessary and using more electricity.

Tip # 3
Change the filters regularly. Changing the filters in your air conditioner and furnace keeps the system running efficiently and uses less electricity. Not to mention, the air in your home will be cleaner as well, which could save on the cost of allergy medicines.

Tip # 4
Have your heating and cooling system checked regularly. This ensures that your system works smoothly year-round and prevents your system from working to hard and using more electricity.

Tip # 5
Adjust the thermostat before leaving home or going to bed. In the winter, the temperature can be lowered when you are sleeping or are going to be away from home for long periods of time.

Tip # 6
Install energy-saving windows. If you own your home, protect your investment as well as lowering your electricity bill by installing double-paned, energy-saving windows that keep the heat in during the winter months and keep the heat out during the summer months.

Tip # 7
Close the blinds or curtains. Mini blinds are a great insulator for windows. During the hottest part of the day, keep the blinds closed to keep out the heat of the sun. This helps to keep your home cooler and helps to save energy by keeping your air conditioner from working harder than necessary.

Tip # 8
Use timers for turning lights on and off. If you are going to be away from home for an extended period and don’t want the burglars to know it, use timers to turn lights on and off in your home. You use less electricity that leaving the light on constantly, and burglars think someone is at home.

Tip # 9
Unplug electronics and appliances when not in use. Although you may not be using the appliance or electronic, some use electricity even when they are off. Unplug it and save on electricity.

Tip # 10
Plant shade trees. Planting shade trees on the side of your house that gets the most direct sunlight can help keep your home cooler and helps your air conditioner work more efficiently. It is also important to keep weeds and shrubs that are located near outdoor units trimmed away from the unit to allow the best airflow for your system to work efficiently.


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