Money savings concepts hand holding coin to put in piggy bank to spend on expenses such as savings, tourism, investment, emergency, retirement on wooden table with blur background and copy space, savings account, emergency fund

Emergency Fund Planning: 5 Steps to Calculate How Much You Should Save, Part 2

In this second installment of our guide on emergency fund planning, we’re looking into the nuts and bolts of determining the right amount to save, building your fund, and using it wisely. 

This piece offers actionable steps to create a financial safety net that not only prepares your business for unexpected financial downturns but also positions it for long-term success and stability. 

So today, let’s calculate the actual numbers: 


How Much Should You Save? 

The optimal size of your fund will depend on various factors, including your business’s cash flow stability, fixed and variable expenses, and the specific risks associated with your industry. 

A good starting point is to save enough to cover at least 3-6 months of operating expenses. 

This provides a cushion that can support your business through short-term disruptions. 

Here’s a more detailed look at how to calculate the specific amount for your emergency fund:


Step 1: Evaluate Your Monthly Operating Expenses 

Start by calculating your business’s average monthly operating expenses — rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, payroll, inventory costs, marketing expenses, insurance premiums, and any other regular expenses. 

It’s essential to have a clear understanding of what it costs to keep your business running on a day-to-day basis. 


Step 2: Assess Your Cash Flow Stability 

If your business experiences significant seasonal fluctuations or has a high degree of income variability, you’ll need a larger emergency fund to cover periods when revenue is lower than average. 

Conversely, businesses with more stable and predictable cash flows can potentially operate with a slightly smaller emergency fund. 


Step 3: Factor in Industry-Specific Risks 

Take into account the specific risks associated with your industry, as discussed earlier. 

For example, if you’re in a sector that’s highly susceptible to economic downturns or rapid technological changes, you may need to save more to buffer against these potential challenges. 


Step 4: Calculate Your Ideal Fund Size 

Here’s a simple formula to get started: 

Emergency Fund Target = Average Monthly Operating Expenses × Number of Months 

For example, if your average monthly operating expense is $10,000, and you decide that a 6-month buffer is suitable for your business, your target emergency fund size would be: 

$10,000 X 6 = $60,000 


Step 5: Consider Additional Contingencies 

Beyond the basic operating expenses, consider setting aside additional funds for specific contingencies related to your business. 

This could include potential equipment repairs or replacements, increases in raw material costs, or the need to hire additional staff quickly. 

Consider the impact of inflation on your operating costs and adjust your emergency fund accordingly to maintain its real value. 

And STAY INFORMED: Keep abreast of economic forecasts and industry trends that could impact your business. 

Assessing these potential costs in advance can help you set a more accurate target. 


Step 6: Review and Adjust Regularly 

This is a crucial step here, folks. 

Don’t forget that your emergency fund target isn’t static; it should evolve as your business grows and changes. 

At least once a year, review your fund size in relation to your current operating expenses, cash flow stability, and any changes in your industry’s risk landscape. 

Adjust your savings goal accordingly to ensure that your emergency fund remains adequate for your needs. 


Building and Growing Your Emergency Fund 

Building this fund requires discipline and strategic planning – but it’s absolutely doable. 

It’s about finding a balance between investing in growth and setting aside money for the unexpected. 

So now, based on your calculations above, you can determine a realistic amount to save each month and treat it as a non-negotiable expense. 

Analyze your spending to identify areas where you can reduce costs and redirect those savings to your emergency fund. 

Let’s talk about a few ways to grow your fund savings: 

  • Automate Your Savings: Set up automatic transfers from your business checking account to your emergency fund to ensure consistent savings. I recommend a regular monthly transfer of the highest amount your cash flow won’t notice; even if it’s $50/month, it adds up faster than you think. 
  • Reinvest Profits Strategically: Allocate a portion of your profits to bolster your emergency fund, especially after a profitable period. If you’re not investing it elsewhere, store that profit in a high-yield savings account! 
  • Explore Additional Revenue Streams: Consider diversifying your income sources to boost your savings rate. This could include offering new services, expanding your product line, or exploring passive income opportunities.


Using Your Emergency Fund Wisely 

Having an emergency fund is one thing, but knowing when and how to use it is crucial. 

The key is to ensure that the funds are reserved for true emergencies and not for regular business operations or investments. 

  • Define What Constitutes an Emergency: Clearly outline what qualifies as an emergency expense. Typically, these are unforeseen costs that could significantly impact your business operations. 
  • Maintain Discipline: Avoid the temptation to dip into your emergency fund for non-emergency purposes. Discipline is essential to ensure that the funds are there when you really need them. 
  • Review and Replenish: After using a portion of your emergency fund, prioritize replenishing it. Adjust your budget and saving strategies from above to refill the fund as quickly as possible. 



An emergency fund is a fundamental component of a small business’s financial strategy. 

It’s not just about having funds set aside for a rainy day—it’s about building a foundation of financial resilience that allows your business to thrive in the face of adversity. 

By understanding the importance of an emergency fund, determining how much to save, and employing strategies to build and maintain your fund, you can instill a sense of calm, clarity, and confidence in your business finances. 

With a solid emergency fund in place, you can make decisions from a position of strength, not desperation. 

As a CFO, I think my advice to small business owners is pretty clear: prioritize your emergency fund! 

It’s an investment in your business’s future and a testament to your commitment to its long-term success.


Author, Virtual CFO, and Finance Coach
Your First CFO: The Accounting Cure for Small Business Owners” on AMAZON