How Much to Save for an Emergency

A new tool from HelloWallet helps you calculate the right dollar amount for you.

A sound financial plan begins with stashing a pile of cash that you can tap in case of an emergency. Experts differ on how much you need to set aside, from as little as three months’ worth to as much as a year’s worth of living expenses. How much you need may depend on your personal profile.

Now, HelloWallet, a developer of personal finance software, has created a tool that can help you nail down the amount that’s right for you. At, you’ll enter information including your take-home pay, regular monthly expenses, whether you rent or own your home, and your health insurance policy’s annual deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. The tool then estimates the amount of easily accessible savings you should have in the event of a minor emergency, a major emergency or a layoff from work. Starting from the ground up? You can use each figure as an incremental goal toward building your emergency fund. To track your regular monthly expenses, use a budgeting site such as so you can link your bank, credit card and other financial accounts.

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Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.