You know what? Having an emergency fund doesn’t take away the stress.
Okay, let me amend that: Having an emergency fund does take away the stress, but only if you never have to touch it.
Back when we started budgeting, we made a choice. We decided that car breakdowns would fall under the heading of “Emergency”. So would sick cats. And so we’ve had to dip into the emergency fund probably half a dozen times in the past year. And every time, we stress about it.
Actually, I think those choices were probably the right ones, the first few months we were budgeting. But not anymore. And so we’re finally learning, and our October budget has two new line items in the “Saving” category: “Sick Cat Fund” and “Sick Car Fund”. Next time the inevitable happens, we won’t have to dig so deeply into the emergency fund. If we’re lucky, we won’t have to touch it at all.
In retrospect, we should have put those categories in our budget from the beginning. If there were months when we couldn’t put anything in them, fine, but they still would’ve been a reminder that we really ought to be doing something about this.