As the government shutdown moves into it’s fourth week, it’s a sobering reminder for many about the importance of having an emergency fund. No doubt that some of the 800,000 federal employees are learning about the importance of having an emergency fund the hard way. Furthermore, there are thousands of lower paid workers in that group who most likely don’t even make enough to have an emergency fund and may have to turn to unemployment benefits or look for new jobs altogether. Before going further, I’d like to be clear that when I saw “emergency fund,” I mean a stash of money that you could live off of for a few months should you find yourself in a situation in which you either couldn’t work or you don’t have income. This savings should be enough to keep a roof over your head, the utilities on, and food on the table. While it can be supplemented with things such as unemployment benefits, it should be enough to get through at least three or four months without any government assistance. Along with your emergency fund, you may also want to consider having a list of assets that you could tap into should you need more money (i.e. stocks you could sell or maybe a luxury item you’re willing to part with). These assets can extend your emergency fund and help you should you find yourself running low on your emergency stash. Now, it’s important to remember that an emergency fund is different from your savings and should be kept separately. Your savings are meant for the long-term and are intended to meet a particular goal, which an emergency fund is meant to be available at any moment for any need. Also, if you find yourself in a situation where you are tapping into your emergency savings, you will need to work on your budgeting skills and strive to keep expenditures to a minimum. An emergency fund is an important part of any financial plans and something that you should take serious both in saving and using.