Much like the Springboks’s pursuit of a 4th Webb Ellis trophy requires creative tactics, so too does survival in today’s ‘Cyril economy. And just like the overwhelming crowd at the Stade De France this past weekend, not everyone is rooting for you to succeed. Thankfully, though, you can be your own hero through careful planning and great discipline.

As the name suggests, an emergency fund is an allocation set aside for financial emergencies or unplanned expenses. Having this fund can be the difference between surviving extreme shocks and falling deeper into an unexpected debt pile. Typically, we think an emergency fund is only relevant when you unexpectedly lose your job. But if you employ it well, this can be a valuable tool to help deal with unplanned things like a burst geyser or even paying for a tyre replacement.

How do you go about building one?

Especially if your current salary is already stretched. Two ways that come to mind are starting a side hustle and having that contribute towards your fund or having a pre-authorised debit order deduct a fixed amount periodically. You would think the second one is harder to achieve without a salary increase. Still, as South Africans, we have a remarkable ability to make the most of a situation once we are in it rather than waiting to be ready for it.

Many have explored the option of contributing towards the fund from performance bonuses. Still, more often than not, that bonus’ arrival coincides with other unplanned needs and wants as we look to reward ourselves for the strain we have had to endure. Regular, frequent contributions allow you to eat the whole elephant in small bites and have a compounding effect that we often take for granted.

With the planning out of the way, the next hurdle becomes discipline. We all struggle with this in some way or another, whether it’s a gym schedule or a Starbucks indulgence. It’s so easy to move funds out of a savings account and back into a transactional account or credit card when the Black Friday deal you are considering comes along. So, find a way to use the systems around you to your advantage.

Setting up the emergency fund as a fixed deposit would allow you to earn a little interest on the money while it isn’t being used. But it does present you with the problem of the notice period in an urgent emergency. You could also put the funds in a separate bank, different from the one you use for other expenses. There’s a reason ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is such a popular saying. At least this way, you must put in more effort to spend the money.

If you want to get creative with your contributions, a kidney may or may not sell for a handsome sum that could help kickstart your efforts. In all seriousness, why not explore a family emergency fund administered by a responsible adult? With the current state of the South African economy, we all need the dedication of Cheslin Kolbe to get us through. And yes, work wives and work husbands constitute a family in this case.

Sometimes, it’s the impartial people who can hold us most accountable. And if you don’t fully trust them, ask the bank to have more than one signatory on the account so that we avoid another awkward Ternary Media Group situation on our hands.


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Emergency funds … the other 7-1 split image