Welcome to Journey To Millions!
In one of our previous articles entitled “Knowing How To Get To Where You Want To Go,” we have shared with you three specific financial goals that every person should ideally aim for. One of them is building an Emergency Fund.
In this article, I would share with you how our emergency fund helped save my life and how it can potentially save yours too!
Defining our first emergency
Google defines the word emergency as “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.” It is a situation where nobody wants to be in. But on June 16, 2013, a sunny day in the Philippines, while Elvin and I were on a self-declared “no tech Sunday,” we found ourselves in an emergency.
Late in the afternoon, after having snacks with Elvin at home, my stomach started to ache. At first, I thought it was just the usual hyperacidity that I have, so I asked Elvin to give me two tablets of antacid to keep the pain at bay.
We patiently waited for the medicine to take effect, but unfortunately, I just felt even worse and started vomiting after 30 minutes. Elvin called my mom to ask for what other options to take, so my mom advised him to buy a different over-the-counter drug.
I was patiently waiting for Elvin to get back home, but the pain was starting to kill me. I was crying so hard and had difficulty breathing. I felt a strong sensation of pain building on my chest. I tried to vomit again, but nothing comes out. Then Elvin came and gave me the second drug.
We waited again but unfortunately, after about another 30 minutes, I started vomiting again. I was feeling so dizzy and powerless, I simply wanted to die to stop the pain. But the pain didn’t stop. It kept building on my chest that I couldn’t take it anymore.
Seeing me suffering and not knowing what to do to ease the pain, Elvin packed our things and decided to bring me to the hospital. It was the longest 5 minute ride I’ve ever had!
Slowly walking into the emergency room, I felt my heart beat faster. I was getting more anxious as the nurses started attending to my needs. They probed me with questions while I was in pain, so I motioned for them to ask Elvin instead. I wasn’t sure if I could get my mind straight and answer correctly. I didn’t want to confuse them with my hazy thoughts. I was focused on the pain. I wanted to get rid of it fast!
Initially, I thought that a simple prescription drug would end my suffering and that I would be sent back home soon. But I was wrong. I was dead wrong. A blood test showed that I was negative for Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria causing ulcers in the stomach. So, the doctor thought that it must be something else. She needed to do a urine test which later proved that I had severe urinary tract infection. We were shocked! We were told, I had to be confined in the hospital indefinitely, depending on how fast I can flush the bacteria off my body. For that, we stayed in the hospital for four nights and five days.
While I was trying my best to drink as much liquid as I can to keep the bacteria off me, my husband, Elvin, had to take a leave from work for the rest of the week. He wanted to make sure that I am well taken cared of and that all details are personally attended to. Fortunately, he still had some paid leave credits to spare. And for that, I am very grateful.
Dipping into our Emergency Fund
This is the very first time that Elvin and I dipped into our Emergency Fund, which we personally call our “Security Fund.” And in this experience, it indeed gave us the security that we very much needed.
Within the first 24 hours that we stayed in the hospital, we were asked to pay P5,000 as hospital deposit. We were informed that failure to pay the deposit would mean having to pay for everything in cash while confined. For example, if I would be needing any medicine, Elvin would have to pay for the medicines upfront. But if we would pay for the deposit, we would be given a credit line.
Also, every single day, we were given a partial summary of our hospital bill. We then estimated that each day we stay at the hospital would cost us P10,000. Imagine what a burden this would be for a family that is living from pay check to pay check. How stressful!
Things we’ve learned from this experience
Now, please allow me to share with you what Elvin and I have learned from this experience.
1. An emergency fund can save lives (your life, your loved one’s life, or even both).
At the time when I was severely in pain and vomiting at home, Elvin didn’t think twice. He knew he needed to bring me to the hospital. And because he knew we had an emergency fund, he was confident to bring me there. In the same light, I knew we had an emergency fund, so when the doctor in the emergency room requested for my consent to be confined, I immediately said “Yes.” And that answer made a whole lot of difference to my health and safety. Something worse could have happened to my kidneys if I didn’t have the confidence to say “Yes, please. I need your help and I can afford it.”
2. An emergency fund buys you peace of mind and allows you to focus on what’s important.
Elvin is an awesome life partner! I have no doubts about it. He was there for me when I was in pain, vomiting, crying, cursing, panicking, and recovering from my illness. He was a 101% hands-on husband! He gave me quality time, service, and words of affirmation at a time when I needed him the most! I would be forever thankful for his dedication and commitment! But he could not have done all these if we didn’t have an emergency fund. He would have been compelled to leave my side and solicit money to pay for our hospital bill. He would have needed to go back to work and request for a loan. But since we had an emergency fund, he had the option to stay right beside me, take care of me, and love me the best way he could. And together, while waiting for better lab results to come, we were enveloped in peace and hope that everything’s gonna be alright.
3. Having an emergency fund is good, but having a bigger emergency fund is better.
To be honest, as of this day, our emergency fund is only three times worth our monthly expenses. It’s good. But when we found out that a day in a hospital could cost us P10,000 or more, we realized that we needed more. Imagine how much more we would need if I needed to stay in the hospital for a week, a month, or a year??? The amount is crazy, right?!? In the past year, our priority has been to fully fund our retirement fund. But from this month onwards, we will be shifting to filling at least a six months worth of emergency fund, or even better.
4. An emergency fund saves you from the troubles of having to borrow money from friends and family.
Imagine, you are already tired and worried because your loved one has recently been hospitalized. Even if you want to take a nap and recharge a bit, you cannot afford to not move. The clock is ticking and you badly need to raise money to pay the hospital bill. You beg for money from your friends and family, but no matter how much they want to help, they can only give so much. And instead of the supportive and encouraging atmosphere that you usually share with them, you are faced with the fear of not being able to pay them back and losing the friendship and support of your loved ones. Again, you don’t have to put your relationships at risk, if you have an emergency fund.
5. Nobody can predict when an emergency could happen. There is no excuse not to prepare for it.
Elvin and I really had no clues as to how terrible my UTI already was, except for that brief hour when I was already vomiting and couldn’t stop feeling pain. That week, I never had any issues with my body. I was clueless as to what was happening inside me, how my kidneys were already suffering from the infection. And like my illness, we could just imagine how many other emergencies one could encounter in a lifetime! We all need cash that is ready for disposal, when an emergency comes. We can’t afford to be caught unprepared. Over and over, we’ve been warned, and now, so are you.
The best thing we can do
Right now, since we have already used up a portion of our emergency fund, the best thing we can do is to save again, and if possible, save some more.
Now, let’s talk about YOU.
Have you already set aside at least three months worth of cash for your emergency fund? If not, when are you going to start? How much would you save every month and for how long would you save?
If you already have an emergency fund, how long do you think it would last? Do you have plans to increase your savings? In your opinion, how much emergency fund is enough?
Share us your thoughts in the comments section below and keep us posted with your related stories.
As always, if you know someone who would benefit from knowing our story, please take a second and send them a link to this article. Help us help others become freer, happier, and more hopeful about money and life.
Enjoying our Journey To Millions,
Image taken from CESI Debt Solutions