While you can’t predict everything that may happen, unexpected problems are easier to deal with when you’re financially prepared. Marlies Kappers, head of marketing at DirectAxis Financial Services, says the first thing to consider is what you can realistically and affordably insure against.

These will be events that are difficult or impossible to recover from financially if you’re not insured. They could include your home burning down, your car being stolen or written off in a crash or a long hospital stay because of illness or an accident. But what about life’s more common upsets, such as when an essential appliance such as a freezer or oven stops working, a car breaks down or a toilet or pipe gets blocked?

Research shows that very few of us have enough saved to deal with this sort of problem, which can be very disruptive, although easier to manage if you have an emergency fund.

Here’s what the experts say:

  1. Getting started is the hardest part. Ideally you should aim to save about 5% of your income each month for unexpected expenses.
  2. Keep your emergency fund in a separate account, so you’re not tempted to dip into it. Money market and tax-free savings accounts are two options to consider. Ideally set up an automatic transfer.
  3. Keep saving until you have enough to cover your normal household expenses for between three and six months. That way you’ll have a reasonable cushion.
  4. If you need to use all or some of the money, try to cut back on non-essential expenses such as entertainment or holidays until you’ve replenished it.

To find out more about planning for life’s less pleasant surprises and how to better manage your money visit: https://www.directaxis.co.za/make-a-plan/learn-how-to-manage-money