When I became disabled I got knocked down about as low as you can and not declare bankruptcy. I had things repo’d and if it wasn’t for my parents helping me out I would have lost everything. I was the “good” consumer. I had credit cards, carried some debt, and as long as I could make the payments I was living the DREAM. If you become disabled and can’t work for 8-12 months and you don’t have disability insurance you are screwed as Social security won’t start for at least 6 months if you get a 1st time approval and most people don’t get a first time approval and 6 months is tacked on unless you get back paid. That be nice a year or 18 months from now but you need to eat and pay bills TODAY!
This is big reason you need to have 3-6 months of cash on hand to pay your bills if you lose your job get disabled or what ever reason. That cash on hand buys you time to do what you have to do without the stress of not paying your bills biting you on the ass.
Have 3-6 months food you want to eat on hand. Not having to buy food for several months can bail you out if hard times hit. I had an unexpected vet bill of $700.00 for my dog a few months after I started prepping and that food plus a vet that was willing to work with me timing treatments with my checks made everything possible by paying cash. Plus in a disaster having all you need on hand saves you fighting crowds, price gouging. You can sit at home and watch the idiots that did not prep on youtube. The reason you work is to buy the stuff you need to live. If you have the stuff you need to live you can put that money you worked for toward other stuff.
None of what I am saying is new or groundbreaking. Many non-mainstream money people say the same thing. Live on less than you make. It is simple but that does not make it easy. Not all debt is bad and having credit card does not make you a bad person. It is just how you use debt/credit that can be bad. I took out a small signature loan to buy my wood stove. I refi’d my house to get siding and new windows installed. But those are debts are saving me money long term as the wood stove keeps me warm and the windows and siding have reduced my electric bill. I took on some small debt buying a washing machine, a generator, and other odds an ends and it so easy until the bills came due. Sure I knew I had to pay the debt but those monthly credit card bills can wear you down especially if you only make the minimum payment. Go a couple of months without a credit card bill and you may find it liberating.
Persistence when you fail. I have failed many times with building an emergency fund. The envelope method via Dave Ramsey and my own twist of trying to make these systems work and I think it just takes trying and failing a few times before you succeed. At least that is how it worked for me. I think for me it was paying off the credit cards, but I started my envelope method of saving money before that after many years of trying a failing. I think failing was part of my process as I don’t see failure as a bad thing. I put the money in the envelope for a few years and took it out to spend it and suddenly I found I did not need to spend it. I know it might sound silly but is how it happened to me. Perhaps I became confident in my plans. Perhaps I broke the programming of using credit cards and debt. Perhaps I redefined what makes a person successful. I have no idea except saving some cash in an envelope suddenly became easy after years of trying.
I am not sitting on a stash of cash but I could cover my bills for 3 months if things go sideways. But I’m proud of myself getting to this point of covering 3 months of bills. When you read how many people could not cover an unexpected bill of $500.00 or people behind in power payments or rent a year after Covid and now people that got the bonus snap payments are ending and they can’t afford the inflated food costs it make’s it tough to say you screwed up and trusted the government. But it is true.