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"This Is 911, What's Your EMERGENCY!!"

What you need to do about emergency reserves depends on your persona situation. First, let's understand exactly what I mean when I say "emergency reserves." I'm talking here about cash basically and all it's inherently stable alternatives. Its where you put your dollars when you have to be certain that the value will stand up over time, where a dollar's always going to be worth a dollar.

Cash is often still king; especially when it's paying for an emergency. 

Cash is often still king; especially when it's paying for an emergency. 

Next, if you are already familiar with or have some "rule of thumb" you believe in as to how much your emergency reserve amount should be, you need to explore that a bit as it relates to your specific situation. Having three or six months salary is a great place to start, however is it enough? Let's take a look at a few possible scenarios that you might face:

Both you and your spouse work in the same industry or profession

This might mean that more reserves are required than less, since its more likely that you could be out of work at the same time or be impacted by the same events.

Your income is adequate, but in reality, your financial life works because of your commissions and bonus

In a weak economy, you may not get all those commissions or bonus dollars and even when things are going great, your compensation still largely rises and falls considerably, that would impact your level of emergency reserves.

In addition to your family, you're helping keep your parents going with regular financial help

These additional needs are often overlooked when putting an emergency reserve plan in place and they shouldn't be. If you're helping Mom and Dad out, that won't change even though your circumstances might.

And what happens when there's not good emergency planning? As a rule, you're more apt to make uninformed decisions about how to deal with a crisis, like borrowing on your 401(k) or selling out stocks when the market's down.

Besides developing a sound emergency reserve plan, you should check to be sure that your risk management program is up to snuff. The right insurance protection at the right time can keep you from raiding your reserves or other investments.

A professional financial advisor can help you develope an emergency reserve plan that is based on sound judgement and an understanding of all the risks that you face. Also, good advisors integrate the emergency reserve plan into your overall financial and investment strategy so that your plan becomes one of the components of an overall strategy to keep you moving forward with financial peace of mind.