Baby Step 3

3 to 6 Months of Expenses in Savings

This step is all about building a full emergency fund. It's time to kick debt for good, with 3–6 months' worth of emergency savings. Sit down and calculate how much you need to live on for 3–6 months (for most, that's between $10,000 and $15,000), and start saving to protect yourself against life's bigger surprises. You'll never be in debt again—no matter what comes your way.

According to Money Magazine, 78% of Americans will have a major negative financial event in any given 10-year period. Most people lose momentum after Baby Step 2 and don't push to complete their emergency fund. This pile of cash will make sure you aren't caught off guard by a job layoff or a leaky roof. Keep your emergency fund in a simple checking account or money market account with check-writing privileges. That way, you can pay the doctor or wrecker service on the spot.

Some Ways to Get Started