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Emergency Fund 101

May 21, 2012
How do you recommend investing funds in an emergency savings account? Peter, Cherry Hill, NJ

Emergency savings: Expenses or aftertax salary?

Mar 26, 2012
I'm a 36-year-old single professional in the DFW metroplex that tries to think long-term in my financial planning. I put 12 percent of my around $100,000 salary into my 401(k) with company match. Currently, the retirement fund is valued at about $100,000. I owe about $12,000 on my student loans (4.25 percent fixed interest, originally $80,000) and I have about 27 percent equity in my $180,000 town home. I recently refinanced my home at 4.125 percent for 15 years. My credit card debt is maybe $1,000. After surviving a layoff well (due to a generous severance in the Great Recession), I was scared straight once I started working again. I now have about $15,000 in an emergency fund and next year's bonus will go to this, too. So I have three questions: 1) Do I need 6 months of bills or 6 months of salary after tax? 2) Should I park this in savings? Or is there a better financial instrument? 3) Is the emergency fund a higher priority than nuking the graduate school debt? I appreciate your guidance. Keith, Plano, TX

Figuring out student loans and a home

Feb 9, 2012
I have a dilemma that I hope you can offer some advice on: I am currently in the process of paying off some hefty student loans I accumulated while earning my bachelor's and master's degrees. I pay almost twice the required payment. (Please let me know if you need specific figures.) My husband and I would like to save for the down payment on a home to be purchased within 5 years. Would it be more advantageous for me to continue aggressively paying down the loans (fixed interest rate of 4.25 percent) or save as much as possible to apply to a home to be purchased in the near future? Michelle, Indianapolis, IN