< Back to posts

Every Family Needs an Emergency Fund

Published by: Chris Kittrell Date: May 05, 2013

I never thought my dog would teach me about money. The lesson really wasn’t something I didn’t already know. Maybe I just needed a reminder. It’s odd how we learn and relearn lessons throughout our lives. The source of those lessons can be even odder. “Honey” was a Christmas gift for my youngest daughter back in 2010. Our family quickly fell in love with this bundle of energy. She brought a sweet, selfless nature into our family.

One morning this past April, we woke to find “Honey” unable to walk and terribly sick. As we rushed her to the Emergency Animal Clinic the furthest thing from my mind was money, but after a visit with the veterinarian we were quickly faced with, “Here’s what we can do and here’s how much it’s going to cost.”

I’ve heard about the importance of an emergency fund since I was a child. Whether it was my parents stressing the need to have some money set aside for the unexpected or Dave Ramsey coming through my radio speakers, an emergency fund has always been part of my financial make-up. Admittedly, it took a couple of “real-life experiences” to fully implement this concept into my own life. The first time was as young husband getting a call from my wife about her car breaking down on the side of road. The second time and the one that finally made it “stick” was as a young father facing an unexpected medical expense with my newborn daughter. So, while a slow learner, I finally got it and vowed to always have an emergency fund in place for life’s inevitable curve balls.

You may have the best financial plan, the best asset allocation, everything can be on track. It just simply helps to have money set aside when life happens. It’s so easy to say, “Hey, I’ve got a credit card for that” or “If I have to, I can always pull money out of savings.” These may be possibilities, but they either put us in debt or place us further away from our plans and dreams.
The emotion of a life emergency quickly takes us away from our orderly lives. You become consumed with the here and now. You want to make it better, make it right, and make it like it was before. When we’re inevitably faced with these crises, we don’t want to think about how much it’s going to cost or how we’re going to pay for it. We want to face the emergency prepared, almost as if we were expecting it.

We certainly weren’t expecting to be in the Animal Hospital last month but we were financially prepared. Unfortunately for our family, after two weeks of effort and compassionate care by the veterinarians, we had to say goodbye to “Honey” but not before choosing to do all we could do for a dog we loved and learned from.

Chris Kittrell is co-founder and Senior Financial Advisor with Rather & Kitrell. He is available at