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4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Using Your Emergency Fund

Career

An emergency fund should be just that – for emergencies. Big or small, it’s impossible to predict every expense that will come your way, but having an emergency fund is a great way to ensure you are prepared, no matter what.


What exactly constitutes an emergency can be a bit of a grey area, so when it comes to using your emergency fund, be sure to ask yourself these 4 important questions first.

1

Is it an unexpected cost?

A last minute trip with your friends or a bathroom remodel do not count as emergencies. While it can be tempting to use the money in your emergency fund towards lifestyle expenses, this should be avoided at all costs. Being that the purpose of an emergency fund is to financially protect you in a real emergency, getting into the habit of using these funds for other expenses will leave yourself vulnerable.

Instead, plan to use your emergency fund only when absolutely necessary. For things like vacations or home improvements, open a separate savings account to make contributions towards and work these goals into your budget.

2

Is it an absolutely necessary cost?

Was this truly a cost you didn’t see coming, or was it something you avoided saving for? Holiday shopping does not count! New school supplies for your kids do not count! Taxes do not count! These are all expenses that occur annually and should be accounted for in your budget. You’ll thank yourself when a real emergency comes your way and you have the means to prepare for it.

3

Is it an urgent cost?

If you can afford to wait in order to give yourself a bit of time to save up for this cost, then consider doing so. After using your emergency funds, it will take some time to rebuild them, and you don’t want to leave yourself stranded if an even more urgent expense were to come up before you had a chance to beef your emergency fund back up. Depending on the type of expense, you may be able to negotiate payment terms rather than having to pay entirely upfront, so it’s always worth asking this question.

4

Can I find another way to pay for it?

Before you rush to withdraw all your funds, take a deep breath and consider whether this is the best decision financially. There may be other means of paying for your emergency that have little or minimal consequences. For example, there are credit cards that are specifically designed for veterinary and medical expenses and offer 6, 12, or 18 month no-interest periods, allowing you some time to pay off your expense rather than draining your emergency fund. Whatever you decide, just make sure you’ve allowed yourself a few minutes to consider whether this is in fact the best decision in your scenario.

Life will always be full of surprises – whether it’s a sick dog, a broken down car, a ripped pool liner, or refrigerator that’s seen better days – an emergency fund will help you bounce back in no time, rather than setting you back in piles of credit card debt. If you have to dip into your emergency fund at some point, don’t fret! That’s what it’s there for, and as long as you’ve asked yourself the above questions first, you’ll know you’re making the most responsible financial decision. Just be sure to continue making contributions towards your emergency fund so you’ll be ready for the next curveball when it comes.

6min read
Health

What Sexual Abuse Survivors Want You to Know

In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.


For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.

Believe it or not, I am happy about that.

The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.

It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).

These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.

So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.

Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.

The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."

In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.