Career 18 January 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
6 Min Read
I live the pain and stress of being black in America every day: I am a black woman, the mother of a black son, sister to black men, and aunt to my black nephews. I remember what it was like as a young girl to be afraid to go to Howard Beach for fear of being chased out. I know what it's like to walk on Liberty Avenue and be called "nigger" and being so young that I didn't understand what the word meant, I had to ask my mother. I know too well that feeling in the pit of your stomach when a police car pulls up behind you and even though you know you haven't done anything wrong you fear that your life may be in danger from what should be a simple encounter. Like all African Americans, I am tired of this burden.
African Americans have a long history of having to fight for our humanity in America. We have had to fight for freedom, we have had to fight for equality, and we have had to fight for our lives. The fight continues to go on. I have often quoted that line from the character Sophia in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "All my life I had to fight." When I say this to my white counterparts it can sometimes be uncomfortable because it's clear that they just don't get it. They view it as melodramatic. But it's not. It's part of the black experience, and it is the part of the black experience that black people don't want.
I have often quoted that line from the character Sophia in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, "All my life I had to fight."
While I was out yesterday, passing out PPE and talking to people, a woman asked me, "What is it going to take for this to change?" I told her that I think peaceful protesting is a good start. But it's just the start. We can't elect the same people for the past 20-30 years, some in the same positions, and then talk about how nothing has changed in the past 30 years.
This injustice, inequality, and inequity will not spontaneously disappear. It will take bold, outspoken, and fearless leadership to eradicate the systemic racism in our country. We must address the violence at the hands of a police force paid to serve and protect us. We must address the recurring experience of black people being passed over for a promotion and then being asked to train the white person who was hired. We must address the inequities in contract opportunities available to black businesses who are repeatedly deemed to lack the capacity. We must address the disparity in the quality of education provided to black students. We must address the right to a living wage, health care, and sick pay.
While we like to regard the system as broken, I've come to believe the system is working exactly as it was meant to for the people who are benefiting from it. We need a new system. One that works for all of us. I am running to become the mayor of New York City because I can't assume there's another person who has the courage to do the work that needs to be done to create a fair and just city.
We can't elect the same people for the past 20-30 years, some in the same positions, and then talk about how nothing has changed in the past 30 years.
There are some things we may not be able to change in people, but at this moment I think that whether you are black, white, purple, or yellow we all should be looking internally to see what is one thing that you can do to change this dynamic. Here's where we can start:
If we want change, we need a total reform of police departments throughout this country. That is going to require taking a hard look at our requirements to become a police officer, our disciplinary procedures when civilian complaints are filed, and a review of what and how we police. No one deserves to lose their life based upon the accusation of carrying counterfeit cash. We also need to hold police officers accountable for their actions. While it is their duty to protect and serve they should not be above the law. Even at this very moment, police officers are overstepping their boundaries.
If we want change, we have to build a sense of camaraderie between the police and community. A sense of working together and creating positive experiences. We have to be honest about the fact that we haven't allowed that to happen because we have utilized our police department as a revenue-generating entity. We are more concerned with cops writing tickets than protecting and serving. Even during these moments of protest we are witness to the differences made when the police supported the protesters and stood hand in hand with them or took a knee. It resulted in less violence and more peaceful protest. People felt heard; people felt respected; people felt like they mattered.
While we like to regard the system as broken, I've come to believe the system is working exactly as it was meant to for the people who are benefiting from it. We need a new system.
If we want change, we have to be willing to clean house. And that means that some of you are going to have to step up to the plate and take roles of leadership. In my city alone, there are 35 city council seats that are term-limited in 2021. There are some that aren't termed but maybe their term should be up. Step up to the plate and run. If nothing else it will let our elected officials see that they need to stop being comfortable and do more. We don't need you out in the street taking selfies or reporting the problems to us. We need solutions. We need you in a room implementing policies that will ensure that these things don't continue to happen.
If we want change, we need to support grassroots candidates that are not in corporate pockets, who are not taking PAC money, and who really want to make a difference to their community. We need candidates that know first-hand and can relate to the experiences that many of us are going through.
We are at a pivotal moment. It is inspiring to see people from all races and backgrounds in the streets protesting, standing up for justice, and wanting to see change. We must seize this moment, but we must also be mindful that change requires more.
People often ask me why I decided to run for office? I am running for me. I am running for the little girl that was called nigger on Liberty Avenue. For the woman who has been pulled over for no reason. For my nephew who was consistently stopped during the era of stop and frisk. I am running for your son, your brother, and your nephew. I am running so that the next generation will never have to say, "All my life I had to fight." Because although we won't stop until we see justice and changes that address inequality and inequity effectively, this fight is exhausting.