Do You Have an Umbrella?

A Versant staff member shares her personal story about the importance of having a rainy day fund.

 

Laura Countiss, Portfolio Associate, Operations

 

We’ve all heard the old adage advising us to save for a rainy day. But are you ready if that day comes? We tell millennials and those even younger to start saving now for retirement. “Be sure to max out your IRA or 401k,” we say. The truth is, you can find yourself in need of that umbrella much sooner than retirement would dictate.

Life can change in an instant. I was in a car accident that required emergency surgery and a two-day hospital stay that kept me out of the office for six weeks. Though the accident wasn’t my fault, it caused untold expenses to rack up, including the purchase of a new car to replace my totaled vehicle, hospital bills in excess of fifty-thousand dollars, and numerous doctor bills. It has been nearly two months since the accident and all of the expenses have yet to come in.

This hit to my family’s financial well being was immediate and substantial. While I am fortunate to have short-term disability insurance through Versant, there was a glitch in the paperwork, which resulted in the receipt of only fifty-nine dollars during my month and a half absence from work. Though the issue is being corrected, I was essentially without income for a stretch of time. And, because I needed care at home following my release from the hospital, my husband took off two weeks from his job. The Family Medical Care Act allowed my husband to take the time, but it didn’t mean his employer was obligated to pay him for the time away. Thus, another paycheck did not make its way into our home.

The silver lining is that we’d long ago established a rainy day fund. We were able to tap into it to pay our expenses and experience no changes in our quality of life. However, for young people just starting their careers, this may not be the case. For those living paycheck-to-paycheck or who have young children at home, paying rent, putting food on the table, and meeting expenses may become critical issues. My advice? Don’t assume something like this will never happen to you (though I sincerely hope it doesn’t!). Plan ahead and start funding for a rainy day today. You never know when you might need an umbrella.

 

 

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