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You may have heard the term save for rainy day before, but what is a rainy day fund? No, we’re not suggesting you add coins to a piggy bank to get ready for bad weather. Instead, a rainy day fund is a way you can help to prepare for life’s unexpected surprises.

But how do you save money for a rainy day fund? And what role does insurance have to play in preparing you for the unexpected? This guide will explore the ins and outs of a rainy day fund and a handy step-by-step guide to get you started with budgeting for one.

Let’s get into it!

What is a rainy day fund?

Not to be confused with an emergency fund, a rainy day fund is money you have saved away for unexpected, arguably minor expenses. Like your other financial goals, a rainy day fund usually accumulates over time as part of your regular budget. Given the uses for your rainy day fund, this pot of money is typically easy to access, unlike other forms of savings which you may not be able to touch.

Why is saving money for a rainy day important?

Like Cigna Life Insurance, a rainy day fund can help provide you peace of mind knowing that you’ve got a safety net to fall back on. Whereas Life Insurance may help prepare you for more drastic changes or long term expenditures, a rainy day fund can help you live life with confidence knowing that you have money available for smaller unexpected expenses. There are many examples of when you may need to draw on a rainy day fund, depending on your lifestyle.

Home maintenance

For most people, property may be their most significant investment. Unfortunately, the spending often doesn’t end when you sign on to buy the house. Whether it’s to meet the Healthy Home Standards or fix something cosmetic, home maintenance costs can pop up out of nowhere. Examples include: 

  • Broken windows

  • Broken appliances, i.e. dishwasher or washing machine

  • Blocked drain

  • Faulty electrics

  • Heating or air conditioning repairs

  • Septic tank repair

Are you spending enough on regular home maintenance? Sometimes a proactive instead of reactive approach can be kinder to your wallet. Routine maintenance may mean you don’t need to rely on your rainy day fund as much.

Car repairs

Your car may be your ticket to freedom, but it can also be your ticket to a headache. Like your home, sometimes your car can also serve up costly surprises. Examples of smaller vehicle costs include:

  • Small accidents or crashes

  • Replacing bulbs

  • Windscreen chips

  • Replacing tyres

  • Replacing oil

A rainy day fund can provide you with a cash injection to cover smaller vehicle costs. Of course, we’re referring to smaller issues where your car isn’t a total write off.

Top tip: Don’t forget about those pesky parking tickets as well!

Pet care

Our furry, feathered and scaly friends may be more like family. But just like family, sometimes pets have accidents and illnesses, including vet bills and unexpected vaccinations. These smaller costs can be covered with the help of a well-stocked rainy day fund.

Unplanned travel

Sure, we all have planned holidays that we save up for well in advance. The unplanned travel we’re referring to here is not so much a holiday. Sometimes you’ll need to travel without any time to prepare or save. For example:

  • For a wedding

  • An overseas family member becoming ill or passing away

  • A new job opportunity

Travelling can be expensive, especially if you’re heading somewhere far away. A Rainy day fund can help pay for upfront costs. Travel insurance can also be worth considering when you’re heading away. Read our helpful guide with travel insurance terms you may need to know.

Unexpected gifts

Similar to travelling for a wedding, sometimes you’ll need to pay for unforeseen gifts. Whether a wedding gift, birthday gift, or present for a newborn, a rainy day fund can allow you to pick out something nice.

How much to save for a rainy day fund

When considering how much money you should save or budget for a rainy day fund, it can be helpful to think about the examples we’ve just gone over. The savings you have in your rainy day fund should be able to cover any of those events. Generally speaking, $1000 can be a good financial goal. Although $1000 may seem like a lot, sometimes you may need need to stump up for more than one expense at once. You know the saying, when it rains it pours!

How to save money and budget

Making a good budget and sticking to it can be one of the best ways to save for a rainy day. Budgeting is helpful not only to help you reach your financial goals but also to take the stress out of saving money. Follow these easy steps for budgeting tips.

Step 1: Take stock of your income

The best place to start when planning a budget can be getting a lay of the land. It’s hard to do any form of budget without knowing what you have to work with. The best way to do this can be to get one of your paychecks and look at your net income after tax has been removed.

Step 2: Write down your expenses

It may be slightly confronting, but the next step is sitting down and listing all of your outgoings. We’re talking about regular expenses, including your:

  • Rent

  • Mortgage

  • Gym membership

  • Utilities like power

  • Insurance

  • Kiwisaver payments

This step can not only help you understand how much money you can spare for a rainy day fund, but it can get you in the right frame of mind to consider possible unexpected expenses.

Step 3: Plan your budget

Now that you know your financial incomings and outgoings, making a budget should be simple. There are a lot of helpful online resources and templates available to assist you. In terms of saving for a rainy day fund, it can be important to ensure enough is left over for regular payments. It shouldn’t have to be too much of your regular income. 

Step 4: Stick to your budget

You’ve got your budget. Now it’s time to stick to it to reach your financial goals (including your rainy day fund). Life is for living, so you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. In saying that, there are ways you can help yourself stay on course, including:

  • Sleeping on big financial decisions (don’t rush)

  • Create bank accounts that you can’t touch without contacting your bank

  • Lower your overdraft

  • Try to buy cheaper alternatives when you can

  • Have a strong ‘why’

There is no bad time to look at your budget, but these 6 key life events can be convenient times to assess your finances and make sure a rainy day fund is on the list. It can be beneficial to talk with an Independent Financial Adviser for more helpful budgeting tips.

Top tip: Just because you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice a high quality of living. Read our guide on staying healthy while keeping on a budget for tips on looking after yourself while saving.

How insurance can help prepare you for the unexpected

Similar to how a rainy day fund can help prepare you for the unexpected, insurance options can also help you be ready for whatever life serves you. Several Cigna Life Insurance options can help with your financial resilience.

Income Protection Insurance

Sometimes called Income Cover, Income Protection Insurance can provide you with a regular monthly income if you can no longer work due to an accident or illness. This money can assist you in maintaining your current lifestyle and meeting financial commitments.

Trauma Cover

Often called Critical Illness Insurance, Trauma Cover can pay you a lump sum if you’re diagnosed with an illness or condition specified in your cover. This money can help you to focus on recovery.

What are the benefits of talking to an Independent Financial Adviser

One of the best ways to get your financial ducks in a row may be talking with an Independent Financial Adviser. These experts can help provide you with tips and tricks that aren’t just to do with budgeting for a rainy day fund but also help you reach your financial goals in general. Some Independent Financial Advisers can also help assist you with choosing insurance. And because they’re independent, you know they have your best interest in mind.

Ready to make a savings plan?

Saving for a rainy day fund can help you live life confidently, knowing that you have a safety need to fall back on if unexpected expenses arise. As with most financial goals, one of the best plans of attack can be a well thought out budget. Although a rainy day fund may prepare you for more minor unexpected expenses, it can also be helpful to consider what would happen if you weren’t able to work due to an unforeseen circumstance. Cigna has a range of Life Insurance options with a range of choices for cover to suit your unique situation. The best place to start when considering your personal insurance may be to speak with an Independent Insurance Adviser. Remember, a little bit of time spent planning now could help you avoid a headache in the future.