Featured, Saving

3 Times My Savings Saved Me

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Today I want to talk about saving. Specifically how having savings saved my butt. Saving for an emergency is for everyone. I hate to be the person reiterating the age old line, “Saving is for everyone.” But just do it.

Sometimes it feels like there isn’t a reason to save. Sometimes you feel that unfortunate thing that happens to other people will never happen to you. Or maybe you don’t know anyone who’s ever actually had THE emergency everyone’s been telling you to save for. Trust me, you are not the exception. The other people you know aren’t an exception.

2.6 million people lost their jobs in the 2008 financial crisis. You can take a look at this report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it shows job loss occurred across the board. If you think your industry is flourishing and will always be that way, just take a look at history.

And saving isn’t just for emergencies! If you want to build wealth, the first step is saving. Check out some of the accounts below that are offering the highest return rates. That’s free money. They are PAYING you not to spend your money:

Why Should I Save?!

If you still don’t believe me, take a lesson from me. I’m college educated, get good feedback at work, am in relatively good health, am not a risk taking dare devil, etc. Why would anything bad ever happen to me? I’ve only been out of college for 5 years, and I’ve already had some huge life events that required savings to carry me through them.

An Emergency Dental Procedure

I had a root canal done on my top left molar in high school. 10 years later, that tooth started bothering me again. I kept getting a weird taste in my mouth from the site of the tooth.

When I went to my general dentist, she referred me to an Endodontist who specializes in root canals after an x-ray. The Endodontist took one look at it and said I needed to consult an oral surgeon. Then when I went to the oral surgeon, he said the original tooth definitely had to be removed. But because the x-ray wasn’t clear, he would only be able to tell if the tooth next to it needed to be removed once he was in there.

After I was put under, it turned out I did have to get 2 teeth removed. They also needed to add bone filling to the gum line since it was such an extreme removal.

So within the span of 2 weeks, I was looking at a $900 charge after the procedure. Then a few weeks later, I got a bill for $200 for the biopsy of my tooth. Then another bill for $700 my insurance apparently hadn’t covered! That was almost $2000!

My monthly paycheck was $2800. I usually spent $1000 a month for day to day living costs and $950 for rent. If I were living paycheck to paycheck, the $850 clearly wouldn’t have covered the $2000 bill. But I didn’t sweat it because I had my emergency savings in my savings account ready and waiting.

Getting Laid Off

Does anyone remember this article, “J.Crew Just Laid Off 10 Percent of Its Staff“? Well I was one of that 10%. Thankfully, I was already planning on quitting in 2 months anyways. I had been accepted into Hack Reactor, and I planned on joining the August cohort. I was laid off in June.

Even so, this wasn’t part of my plan. I thought I’d be earning a salary for 2 extra months. I still needed to pay rent. I still needed to pay for my living expenses. Thankfully I had $10k in my savings account.

Going Back To School

In August 2015, I moved my life from New York to San Francisco to attend a coding bootcamp called Hack Reactor. The tuition cost a pretty penny. I was lucky I didn’t have to save another year and a half for the tuition thanks to Hack Reactor’s tuition deferral and my parents help. Even so, I still needed to pay for housing in the Bay Area, security deposits, commuting fees, and living expenses like groceries.

The cheapest housing I could find without actually being in the Bay Area was a shared room in Oakland for $900. The commute from Oakland into SF by BART was $7.20 a day, and my program was 6 days a week. Just with those two things, I was paying about $1100 a month. I cooked most meals when I could and would go out occasionally with my cohort mates for food. I was able to live comfortably and without worry during this time because I had savings.

So share this with your naysayer friends who hate on emergency savings or any kind of savings. They should think twice. Saving is for everyone!

Let me know a time you were in a serious pinch and whether you had your savings to fall back on! Was there ever a time when you were in trouble and you didn’t have any savings? What was that like?

Jing is currently a software engineer based in Oakland, CA. She left her job in New York, moved to San Francisco unemployed, and more than doubled her salary in 4 months.

17 thoughts on “3 Times My Savings Saved Me

  1. I’ve been lucky enough to always have steady income through jobs and I always saved a good portion of my take home income. So having savings was always an important factor in my financial plan. I recently transitioned from Accounting into Finance and for a brief period of 2 months I was unemployed and looking for a new opportunity to fast track my career. My savings took a hit during this period but it saved me. Had I not had that savings I wouldn’t have been able to take that time off. Also, I start my new job this coming Monday! I also make way more than my previous role so I plan on saving even more money! I love savings!

    1. Yeah, the best part about having new employment lined up is also getting to take a little break between jobs! And that’s only an option to those who have a nice funemployment cushion 🙂

  2. Man, that dental plan seems like it stunk! Isn’t an emergency procedure like that exactly when the insurance is supposed to kick in?

    I have two instances where savings came in handy.
    1. When I moved to NYC with no job! I had saved a little over 10k and it took about three months for me to find a steady gig. I definitely felt much “safer” moving without a job because I had savings.
    2. When I broke my finger last year. My husband was pretending he was Tom Brady while we were playing catch in the park. Well, he threw it a little too hard and my finger got in the way. Had to pay over $1,000 because I had a high-deductible plan. I cringed every time I had to get an x-ray bc all I could see was $$$. But I had money set aside so besides the emotional costs of parting with money, it really wasn’t a big thang.

    1. That’s what I hate about insurance sometimes is it being so unclear upfront what your out of pocket will be! It did cover something like the first $900, but still!

      It looks like we both have a knack for moving to new cities without jobs 😛 It also helps having the cushion just so you can be more choosy with your job options instead of scooping up the first offer you get!

      That’s exactly why I’ve been holding off on the HSA even though I know it’d be good for me. Whew, what a bill! Medical costs 🙄

  3. Savings is such a great practice of self-love! I once made an involuntary cross country move with no job waiting for me on the other side. The year? 2008. It took me quite a few months to find gainful employment, but thankfully I had a nice emergency fund padding me!

    1. I feel I hear so many stories of people moving across the country or moving some place without a job! Emergency savings is SO important for that!

  4. I appreciate savings for the flexibility it provides. I’m all about options. When I first graduated law school I did not have any savings, I did not have a job lined up, and I had just signed a lease for an apartment. I made ends meet, but I had to work three jobs because I never knew when one income stream would dry up. Once I had some savings built up I could spend less time working because I knew I had that cushion.

    1. Wow 3 jobs! That’s impressive! Yeah my first move to NY without steady employment OR savings was a serious struggle. I was working 2 jobs back then which took up about 70 hours of my week. Maybe that’s what reinforced my survival instinct for savings after that!

    1. Savings seriously does open so many doors. Any time you’re not bringing money in, if you don’t have savings, you have no choice as to what your next move is!

  5. I thought since I worked for the government that I would be all set and not have to worry about some of the ups and downs the private sector deals with. Unfortunately we were furloughed a couple of years ago and it definitely put me in a pinch. After that I said never again would I put myself in that type of position again. So I’ve had an emergency fund ever since then.

    1. Wow, thanks for sharing. I wasn’t aware actually that could happen either. I guess regardless of public/private sector, everyone is still operating within a budget. :/

  6. Great post! One time that my savings saved was similar to your dental story but it involved my pet 🙂 A few years ago my dog bit into a raw meat bone a bit too hard and chipped his tooth. I took him to the vet and he had to have his tooth extracted because it was chipped down to the root, I remember it costing about $900. I didn’t have pet insurance because he was denied a lot of pet insurance because of a pre-existing skin condition of eczema so I didn’t bother since the premiums were getting higher and higher!

    1. Oh no! Thanks for sharing your story! It’s funny just how random sometimes our emergencies can be/how they arise. I guess that’s how emergencies work…everything’s fine one second and the next you’re dropping cash to fix your problems! Also I find it really interesting that vets do all the dental work on pets.

  7. I had nearly a 10K cushion when I moved back to Canada from overseas and went to grad school. Definitely helped ease the transition for a couple months before my scholarship cleared and my TA paycheques started coming in. I still incurred student debt but I think about how much worse off I would have been without that cushion – pretty likely I would have gone into some consumer debt just to handle groceries, bills, and an expensive move during that transition.

    One of the main reasons I am trying to build up my savings now is because I am reminded how unstable even stable jobs can be. I like to think I am in a “stable” public sector job, but a beloved colleague of mine got laid off a couple weeks. The government simply didn’t renew the funding for her position. So sad to see her go, but it gave me a much-needed reminder that I have to get my e fund up to three months expenses like yesterday!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Kate! I’ve heard many of the same stories of going back to school, except without the emergency savings, and there was definitely a lot of consumer debt involved in their stories.

      Yeah being laid off once really solidified how much I am just a number to my company, regardless of sector! There’s some finance person out there counting what their budget can fit, and we’re just some money to be cut out of the budget. Too cold and real :'(

  8. In 2009 I got divorced, my ex really cleaned me out, I even lost my job because I worked for her uncle, I found a good job in another city, the move was quick and very good, but..my new colleagues were party animals, for a year or two I ran with them until one Saturday I woke up very hungover and almost broke, I decided enough is enough, I needed a cheap homebound hobby, I went out and bought a secondhand gaming PC for around $200, wow.. all I can say is it changed my life, 8 months later I realized my little hobby kept me so busy, and home, that I never even checked my bank balances, my $200 hobby turned into a $8000 saving, sure I have less friends, but my health and bank balance is in very good standing, all this happened in 2010, so I will leave the math up to you guys on how healthy my bank balance really is

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