Everyone knows the little rules of life that may reduce the risk of costly mistakes, like driving slowly in the rain or not leaving candles burning. But it’s the rare what-ifs that might prompt you to dip into your retirement savings or your child’s college fund if you don’t have a financial backup plan.
An emergency fund can help serve as protection against unexpected expenses — no running up your credit card, no borrowing from your retirement or bank accounts. However, 56 percent of Americans don’t have emergency savings, according to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. That’s a large group of people who could get in a tough situation unexpectedly.
Think you’re immune to mishaps? Life is always full of surprises, so here are 10 situations where an emergency fund may help you out in a jam.
One minute ol’ Fido is playing fetch; the next minute he’s howling up a storm. Our furry friends are prone to illnesses and injuries just like us.
Vet costs: Repairing a pet’s leg fracture typically costs about $2,700 according to VetInfo.com.
Upside: Your pup is as good as new.
As the cruise sets sail, you remember leaving your phone on that unforgettable beach.
Replacement cost: Depending on the model, replacing a smart phone can run more than $500, according to Forbes.
Upside: You get a cool new phone.
An old tree can give your home a stately look. But when it dies or is not maintained, that tree may become a danger to your property and others’.
Removal cost: $200-$1,000 for trees 25-75 feet tall, according to TreeRemoval.com.
Upside: More sun.
The drive wasn’t supposed to involve a tow truck and a new radiator, but on a long haul, it’s hard to predict what will happen … for better or worse.
The back-on-the-road special: A radiator replacement can cost from $150-900, depending on your car’s make, model and year, according to CostHelper.com. And if the transmission blows, Transmission Repair Cost Guide found that you could be set back as much as $3,500.
Upside: You (eventually) get to see the world’s largest ball of twine.
Power surges, viruses, spilled coffee — one moment you’re hard at work, and the next moment your hard drive doesn’t work.
Replacement or repairs: Depending on the brand and model, a new laptop can set you back up to $600, according to Digital Trends.
Upside: You get a fast new machine for watching cat videos.
Being young and in love is such a wonderful thing. And if it’s truly wonderful, your family may grow a little larger.
Cost of the wonderful surprise: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project found that the average U.S. hospital delivery costs $3,200 per stay, not to mention upcoming expenses like food, bottles, diapers and more.
Upside: More Likes on Facebook.
Then she announced that their dream wedding is in Mexico. Hooray?
Attending the wedding of their dreams: An average trip to Cancun could run about $3,170 according to USA Today.
Upside: Party in paradise.
The 2016 U.S. tax code was 74,608 pages long, according to the Washington Examiner. Getting bogged down in paperwork could mean missing the IRS’ deadlines.
The bill: Penalties up to 25 percent of the amount owed if you miss the filing or payment deadlines, according to the IRS.
Upside: No tax man knocking on your door.
Teaching the fundamentals of the game turns into a lesson in safety.
Cost of an ER visit: A National Institutes of Health study found the average ER visit cost $2,168. Even sprains and strains averaged $1,498.
Upside: You’re back on the court with your future Olympian in no time.
According to the Department of Transportation, more than 1 million bags were reportedly mishandled by airlines in 2016. If you’re one of the unfortunate flyers whose luggage gets lost, you might be without a computer, camera, business clothes or equipment like skis or snorkel gear for days.
Getting your gear back: It depends on what you lost, but replacing it could cost hundreds of dollars.
Upside: New threads.
Unless you cover yourself in bubble wrap and stay at home, you might someday find yourself in an unexpected and expensive situation. So save for emergencies when you can. That way, you can have the peace of mind to fully enjoy the upsides of life’s little surprises.
Need help building your emergency fund? Read our 10 simple tips for building an emergency fund.
Originally published October 22, 2014.