Building an emergency fund: How much should I save?

Why have an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is like the fire extinguisher you keep at home. You hope you'll never have to use it—but when there's a need, you're glad it's there.

You may need your emergency fund if the unexpected happens:

Emergency fund

How much should I have in my emergency fund?

Aim to have enough in a savings account to cover 6 months of expenses. Everyone's situation is different, so you can adjust that number based on your circumstances.

These are your monthly expenses:

Aim to have enough saved to cover 6 months of expenses. You may decide to save more or less depending on your personal situation.

Tips to help you build your buffer

Saving even $20/week (that's $1,040 a year) is a great start.

Use credit wisely

Track your spendingOpens pdf to be aware of what you have

Curb impulse buying—stick with your list

Avoid fees (late charges, minimum balance, ATM fees, etc.)

Plan ahead for big purchases

Avoid cash advances

Use direct deposit

Jump start your savings with a tax refund or other windfall

We're here to help

Already with TIAA?

Manage your money with secure online access.

New to TIAA?

Enrolling is your first step to saving for the future.

Want to talk first?

Let's start the conversation.

This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor's own objectives and circumstances.