I have an eleven year relationship behind me that was great to start with but gradually went bad. Really bad. I was scared of the man - scared of what he’d do to me, my children, my pets… everything. He was very unbalanced and prone to lose his temper for the least thing, often something totally irrational and unexpected, and was really not a nice person to be around when that happened.
I knew I had to get out of the relationship but I had no idea how I’d do it. I had no money, nowhere to go, and no local support network. It took me several years to pluck up the courage to walk away, regardless of the threats that he’d kill us all if I did, and start afresh in another town with nothing to my name.
I managed to get some old furniture (and I don’t mean old as in antique but old as in ready for the tip!), a clapped out cooker, a fridge and other basic essentials. Home was far from cosy and comfy, but it was at least safe and that’s what mattered most. I went on benefits in order to survive and we muddled by.
Looking back, if I’d had a decent sized emergency fund, things would have been so much easier. I would have been able to get out earlier and been able to equip the house with decent essentials (I still wouldn’t have minded second-hand, but a little better than what I had - proper beds instead of mattresses on the floor, for example, a fridge that was cold enough and perhaps even a TV that didn’t switch itself off every half an hour) and most of all, I’d had the peace of mind in knowing that, if things got dangerous again, I could take the kids and leave there and then.
Unfortunately, I was still rather naïve when I met him and hadn’t built up an emergency fund. I also allowed myself to be suckered into having joint accounts. Never again.
By the time I met Richard I’d built up a reasonable emergency fund and that was just as well. When I became seriously ill, both Richard and I had to give up work and our income was slashed drastically. For a while we lived on some money that he had, then my emergency fund, then my credit cards. Now I’m once again in the position where I have no back-up funds, and a whole lot of debt. But I’ll get out of debt, and I’ll build up that emergency fund again. It’s important to me because no matter how well you think life’s treating you, things can so easily go bad. Nobody knows what’s around the corner.
Do you have an emergency fund? If you don’t, I really do suggest you start one. About 3 times your monthly income should be enough, although the more you have, the safer you are, obviously.
It may seem like a daunting prospect, but by saving a little each month, it will gradually build up and the peace of mind it brings with it makes the little sacrifices made so worthwhile.