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How to Kickstart Your Emergency Savings

kick start emergency savings

Episode 1
Pocket Change Podcast

Summary

According to research, Americans don't have enough saved for their emergency fund and so they can't cover an emergency, whether it's a $400 appliance that goes out or a bigger $1,000 emergency that comes up. On this episode of the Pocket Change Podcast, we talk about the importance of an emergency fund. 

As a son of two educators, Dave Bratcher, SVP, YMCA West Tennessee, learned the value of saving from an early age. When tragedy occurred as an adult, Bratcher was ready because he had an emergency fund set aside. 

Growing up, Bratcher's family would save his mom's income for fun things like family vacations and spend his dad's income for everyday expenses. They tackled the false idea of, "if we just made more money, then...." 

"The reality of that is, for those of us who've gone through seasons where we make more money, we spend more money too," said Bratcher. 

While making more money can be a benefit, it does not matter how much we make if don't have the discipline to save. 

We never think that the emergency will happen to us, but reality is there will be an unexpected purchase that we should prepare for. 

Key Takeaways

  • There's no better time to start saving than right now.
  • Start with a goal of $100 in your emergency savings. Then $200.
  • If we are saving when we have a little money, then we are almost guaranteed to save when we have a lot of money.
  • With consistency and discipline putting small amounts into an emergency fund, you will reach your saving goals. 

With these key takeaways, you can learn how to save for future emergencies. With Leaders Fast Forward Savings, you can earn high interest on your balance each month. It's a great way to jump start your emergency fund and build a habit of savings.

Open your emergency savings today!

 


 

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Full Transcript

Dave Bratcher:

Look job number one is to get a hundred dollars right in the emergency fund.

Then it's to get two hundred dollars in the emergency fund because to your point, just moving towards that that outcome is super important. You get some momentum and next thing you know you've got that three to six months.

 

Shea:

Hey, this is Shea.

 

Mary Helen:

This is Mary Helen.

 

Shea and Mary Helen:

Welcome to the Pocket Change podcast.

 

Mary Helen:

Where you’ll learn better ways to spend, save, invest and take control of your financial journey. This is the very first episode of The Pocket Change podcast.

 

Shea:

Happy New Year!

 

Mary Helen:

Happy New Year! That's right. Starting off January 2023 right.

 

Shea:

This is going to be a great year because people are going to learn a lot about their finances and how to manage them properly. So I was reading the other day and I noticed some figures that were out there about how Americans don't have enough saved for their emergency fund and so they can't cover an emergency, whether it's a $400 appliance that goes out or a bigger $1,000 emergency that comes up.

 

Shea:

It always seems to be the house or the car that has some issue with it. And so we want to talk a little bit about preparing for those things that come up and really the importance of emergency saving in our episode.

 

Mary Helen:

Absolutely. And we have a special guest, Dave Bratcher, if you don't mind telling us a little bit about yourself.

 

Dave Bratcher:

Absolutely. Well, Happy New Year to each of you. And I just the more I think about the New Year, the more I think about growing up in a house with two educators because it was kind of halfway through the school year. You know, one of the interesting things - we're talking about emergency funds and savings - so as a child growing up, one of the interesting things in my house was the idea that mom's paycheck went into this separate little place.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And I always wondered why in the world Dad would talk about paying the bills out of his check, and Mom's was for other things. When I got older, I learned what the other things were. The other things were the fun things, the vacations. The understanding that we've got to save if we want to go and do fun things without borrowing money and going into debt.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And so from a very early age, I learned the importance of making sure that you were putting a little bit back intentionally. You know, a lot of times, educators, you hear educators say that they don't make enough money. And I agree. But even with an educator salary, two of them matter of fact, we did lots of neat things as a family, but that was only because of the discipline that they showed during their their life in raising me.

 

Shea:

So your parents were both educators? I applaud that. You are probably familiar Leaders Credit Union was founded by educators. So we're proud of our heritage. That is such an important work that educators do each and every day. They invest so much of their time and energy and they deserve to have that experience like your parents have. To be able to save and plan and budget and set that money aside.

 

Shea:

What is the most meaningful financial lesson that your parents taught you?

 

Dave Bratcher:

Well, I think, again, understanding the importance of saving, also understanding the importance that educators played. And my dad was actually on one of the first loan review committees for, at the time, the Jackson Teachers Credit Union.

 

Shea:

Wow. I didn't know that.

 

Dave Bratcher:

So he understood the importance because, at that time, it was hard for educators to get loans because they were seasonal employee. And and so, you know, I just think understanding not only who he was and what his needs were, but how could he, you know, take what he felt as an educator and then come alongside a credit union and help fellow educators.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And so that was a neat thing.

 

Shea:

That's back when you had to have your loan looked at by a review board, like you're saying, before it could be approved. That was kind of a unique way of doing things back then, but we would totally be not used to that nowadays, because we can get approvals, you know, with the snap of our fingers.

 

Dave Bratcher:

It's exactly right and I think it's a great story. Instead of focusing on what was wrong and why everything was broken, the focus shifted to how can we make it better versus complaining about how bad it was. And I think that's a great lesson that both of them taught me: is really lean into the solution and don't anchor on the problem.

 

Mary Helen:

Absolutely. I was also taught, to go off of that, if you present a problem, you also need to present a solution. So don't just bring a bunch of problems. But again, how can we make it better and how can we change it?

 

Dave Bratcher:

We've all known those people who only showed up with problems. Right? And when we see them coming, we run the other way. Right? And I think when we think about our own personal finances, the idea of taking control of what we have and being responsible for it, versus finding a reason that we're a victim of what somebody else did.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And so having an emergency fund is one of those steps and certainly one that I learned from my parents and carried forward into my adult life.

 

Mary Helen:

Absolutely. And I do want to touch on how you're talking about both of your parents. So you spent your dad's income and then you saved your mom's and then use that for fun things, vacations. What is something that you took away from that, specifically?

 

Dave Bratcher:

Well, I think the main thing - and we often hear this when we talk to folks about their personal finances - is we hear: well, if I could just get a new job where I made more money, I would solve all of my financial problems. And the reality of that is, for those of us who've gone through seasons where we make more money, we spend more money too.

 

Dave Bratcher:

In other words, the money coming in and the money going out are both going up, which means the difference in the two isn't getting any better. Because if we are saving when we have a little money, then we're almost guaranteed to save. When we have a lot of money. If we give to our church or to nonprofits, when we have a little, we're almost guaranteed to give when we have a lot.

 

Dave Bratcher:

So, yes, earning more money can make it easier to dig out of a hole or to save. But if we don't build in a habit of saving, it doesn't matter how much the income is, we're still not going to have any money.

 

Shea:

So on this episode, we're talking about preparing for financial emergencies. Is there ever a time in your life where you had to deal with a financial hardship?

 

Dave Bratcher:

You know Shea, I wish I could sit here and tell you that there wasn't, but there actually was. And I'll take you to Oklahoma City. It was February the 22nd of 2011.

 

Shea:

Still have the day.

 

Dave Bratcher:

Still have the day. Still have the day. It was cold. The wind was blowing, as it always does in Oklahoma City. And I kiss my wife and my daughter goodbye. My wife was five months pregnant with our son and headed to the office. At 9:00, I was called by the executive vice president, asked to come to her office.

 

Dave Bratcher:

So I'll make the walk down the cold hallway - I remember that - walk into her office and there was another individual that was sitting in there that I was not expecting to see. As I sit down, this person gets up and closes the door. And so at 9:16, I heard the words, “you're fired”. And so they were kind enough to provide me two boxes to fill up with my belongings.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And as I'm sitting there at my desk looking out the window - by the way, it’s the nicest desk I ever had, and I still haven't had one as nice as that one - but I look down at the telephone and what I remembered was I was going to have to call my wife to come pick me up from work because I had driven a company car that day.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And so my wife, who's five months pregnant, brings our almost three year old daughter to come pick Daddy up from work because he had been fired. Needless to say, that was a low spot. But I'm happy to report that because of an emergency fund and because of relationships, I only went 11 days without a job and that included relocating back to Jackson, Tennessee.

 

Dave Bratcher:

But without that, the story would have a much different ending.

 

Mary Helen:

We always think it's not going to happen to us. That we're not going to have an emergency. We're not going to need it. It's not going to happen to us. It's going to happen to somebody else. But it did happen to you and you had prepared ahead of time, just in case. Not that you knew that was going to be the outcome or not that you knew on February 22nd.

 

Mary Helen:

That is how 9 a.m. was going to go. But that's how life is too like we don't know. And so we have to prepare. And it is a good thing that you had that and had that to fall back on.

 

Dave Bratcher:

Well, it’s exactly right. And we can't wait until the emergency to begin saving. Right. Like, it's like, oh, my gosh, I need to start putting up some cash. Right. We haven't been saving for retirement. We wake up and we're 60 years old. Well, I mean, I'm not saying you shouldn't start then, but there's a lot better time to start.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And that's like now, right? Right. Whatever your now is. And so, again, grateful for the understanding of the importance. And to your point, when when emergency hits - by the way, we rarely know when that's going to be - when it hit, that bucket of money was there. Harvey Mackay wrote a book called Dig Your Well Before You Get Thirsty [”Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty”].

 

Dave Bratcher:

And what a great way to look at personal finance. Right. Don't don't act as if an emergency isn't going to happen. It is. We just don't know what it's going to look like.

 

Shea:

And I think, you know, we focus on big hardships, huge financial hardships. Maybe that's the loss of a job or something else. Health issues. But little things pop up every single day. I mean, just the other day, we got out to my wife's car. We both leave for work at the same time and hers wouldn't start. And so I had to change our plans.

 

Shea:

We had to go get her a new battery, you know, I had to get that replaced. And those little things are things that also happen that can be, for some people, a financial hardship if they don't have money set aside for financial emergencies. I mean, that's $100 out of the pocket just right there for replacing a battery. But it could be a host of any other things, whether it's, like I said, car or house.

 

Shea:

Those are probably the biggest things that, you know, cost us the most or are some of our biggest financial emergencies.

 

Dave Bratcher:

That's exactly right. And the other thing about that is somebody may be listening today and they may go, gosh, yeah, it sounds great. 3 to 6 months of expenses, you know, an emergency fund and all that. Look, job number one is to get $100 in the emergency fund and then it’s to get $200 in the emergency fund, because to your point, a battery that might be 100, $150 going out, if you've got zero in the emergency fund, it's a huge emergency.

 

Dave Bratcher:

Right? And so just moving towards that outcome is super important and you get some momentum and next thing you know, you've got that 3 to 6 months.

 

Shea:

Yeah.

 

Mary Helen:

And it takes discipline. Like you don't build an emergency fund in a day. You know, it takes discipline in setting things aside and delayed gratification in a lot of ways of saying no to something at the store, saying no to the small changes. And anyways, it's something that you build. 3 to 6 months of expenses, like that's not in your pocket, that's not pocket change.

 

Mary Helen:

You know, that's something that you build and you have to build off of.

 

Dave Bratcher:

That's exactly right. You know, and I think again, not focusing on the number as much as focusing on the process. Right. Focusing on.

 

Shea:

Consistency.

 

Dave Bratcher:

Yeah, right. I'm going to I'm going to make sure I'm saving $10 out of every paycheck. Well, if currently you're saving zero, that's a huge upgrade, right? Even though it's just $10. That's progress.

 

Shea:

So, Dave, what would be your advice for someone who's just starting their emergency fund?

 

Dave Bratcher:

I think the main thing is to understand you will have an emergency in your life, I promise. And I am one of the most positive people you'll meet. But I'm telling you, something bad is going to happen to you. And the question is, are you going to be ready? And so, as I said earlier, if you have zero in your emergency fund now, I think a goal of $100 in emergency fund that's goal number one, whether that's one paycheck, whether that's two paychecks, whether it takes five paychecks, whatever it is, working towards having something there would be step number one.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And, you know, sometimes people's brains work different. Some people love Starbucks coffee. And if they could just skip one Starbucks a week. Right. That's $5 times 52...that's 200 and whatever. Trying to do math in a podcast and y’all are the math people, not me, but somewhere around $250 plus that they would have saved in a year and it was just delaying, to your point, gratification on one cup of coffee.

 

Dave Bratcher:

Not every day, once a week. And just something simple. And so some people's brains work like that. Some people's brains work like, if I ever get it in my hand, it's never going to be saved. And so talking with H.R. and getting a payroll deduction directly into a savings account would be another thing. Because, again, whenever it hits our checking account, it's fair game, that that's the way it works at my house.

 

Shea:

I'm agree It needs to be out of sight, out of mind, and a good way to do that at Leaders Credit Union, is we have our Fast Forward Savings, all it takes is $20 a month. That's how you earn the interest. That's how you build your savings account. And so there's things like that that we can take advantage of.

 

Shea:

And our members and listeners can take advantage of to help jumpstart their savings, get paid interest while their savings. So earning even more with just it can be $20 a month. Simple as that.

 

Dave Bratcher:

That's exactly right.

 

Mary Helen:

All right, Dave, so I've got a fun question for you. If you had some spare pocket change, what would you spend it on?

 

Dave Bratcher:

Oh, my gosh. I think I knew this question was coming in and I still don't know that I have a great answer for it, because everything that I like, I feel like it costs way more money than it should.

 

Shea:

He’s just going to save. He is going to put it in an emergency fund.

 

Dave Bratcher:

Yeah. Well, that's yeah, maybe. Maybe that's where it goes. But I'll tell you, one of the things that I really like doing is looking for unique gifts. I'm trying to get better at being a good gift giver. I don't have a great track record of being a good gift giver, but really trying to pay attention to people's interest more than I have in the past and to try to to find a special gift that's more than, you know, whatever tchotchke little thing.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And so as we're right here, you know, just on the other side of Christmas in the new year, I'm still thinking about gifts and I think with some spare pocket change it would be trying to cobble enough together to find a unique gift for somebody.

 

Mary Helen:

Good answer.

 

Shea:

We’ll take whatever... I mean-

 

Dave Bratcher:

Well, and Shea, I'll just be honest. You were on the top of the list. Yeah. Yeah. Not saying you're not anymore, but you were.

 

Shea:

I appreciate that. Well, thanks for being with us, Dave. We understand that you are with the YMCA. Tell us a little more about what you do and what initiatives are coming to our area.

 

Dave Bratcher:

Absolutely. Super excited. I started a new position in April of last year and my main focus is expanding access to high quality child care, not just in Jackson, Madison County, but across rural West Tennessee. And it's really leveraging the shared services and lots of of administrative costs that are in one location in Memphis so that they're not duplicated at every child care site across West Tennessee.

 

Dave Bratcher:

And so we're very excited with Blue Oval coming, with all of the growth that we're going to see in West Tennessee. The pandemic did not put us in a good spot to grow out of in the area of child care. And so we're really leaning into it, having conversations with school superintendents, county mayors, chamber executives all across West Tennessee, to really make sure that by the time Blue Oval opens, there's a child care network and infrastructure in place to support all of those new families that are going to call West Tennessee home.

 

Shea:

And with having a new child, I know just how important child care is and the need that it has in our community. So thanks for your work with that. And one question, is it fun to be at the YMCA?

 

Dave Bratcher:

You know, it is. And I'm grateful that you're not going to ask me to sing or dance today. Shea, Mary Helen, thank you so much for having me.

 

Mary Helen:

Thank you for coming! We hope you enjoyed the very first episode of the Pocket Change podcast. There's more to come, so be sure to stay tuned on our social media and follow along on YouTube and your favorite podcast platform. For more information.

 

Shea:

Check us out. Pocket Change podcast has been brought to you by Leaders Credit Union.

 

Mary Helen:

Where we power your passion to make lives better. Cha-ching!

 

Shea:

Leaders is federally insured by the NCUA. Equal Housing Lender.

 

Mary Helen:

Learn more at leaderscu.com.

 

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