Emergency Funds / Rule 4

Hi everyone,


 I have 3 months worth of emergency funds to cover bare essentials (rent, food, utilities, cell phone, internet etc...not the variable expenses/subscriptions that i can remove). Is the buffer considered 1 month of expenses from the emergency funds, or would it be something completely separate? How do you make it work? I browsed the forum a little and couldn’t quite find an answer. Apologies if a similar post already exists.


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  • The buffer just means that you don't need to use any of this month's income to fund this month's expenses.  On the first of the month, you should have enough funds available to cover your entire month's budget.

    Like 2
  • Hi GL !

    Your emergency fund and your buffer are separate. Your emergency fund should be in its own separate category, while your buffer should be the extra funds you have in your Immediate Obligations or even some of your True Expenses categories. 

    For instance, if your phone bill is $50 but you have $100 in your Phone Bill category, you're buffered to cover an extra month.

    I hope that helps clear things up! :)

      • WordTenor
      • I have the honor to be your obedient servant
      • WordTenor
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view


      I've always found a better definition of the buffer to be to explain that the buffer isn't a thing so much as a state of being. You are buffered; you don't have a buffer. When you are buffered, you are funding this month entirely with money earned last month. 

      OP, I would use some of your emergency savings to push your budget out one month by budgeting one full month. From then on, whenever you receive income, you will budget that income into *next* month instead of into this one. Be mindful of the Stealing from the Future problem until such a time as more transparency is created in the software--once you have money in next month, you'll need to be careful to use the Move Money Tool to move money around this month / check next month's header each time you adjust your budget. 

      Like 7
    • WordTenor I like the way you worded that! ;)

      I know I've referred to being buffered before, but never clarified it as a state of being - you're absolutely right on that and it's a great way to think of it!

      • Bakari
      • Bakari45
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

        I agree. After starting ynab I took out money I had in my Digit and savings account and established a one month buffer. I've stayed one month ahead for over a year now. I would like to buffer for three months, because it is possible that my job could end in the next year or two. I just got some extra money this month, and plan to buffer my car payments for three months. 

      Like 1
  • Thank you all, as always :)

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