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Dave Says: Is This an Emergency?

Dear Dave,

My wife just had our first child. As a result, we now have $2,500 in medical bills not covered by insurance. We’ve got $7,000 in our emergency fund, and I make about $25,000 a year. Should we dip into our savings for this or set up a payment plan with the hospital?

Matthew

Dear Matthew,

Congratulations on your new baby! I know this is going to make the new year extra-special for you.

If I were in your situation, I’d write a check today and knock out that hospital bill. This definitely falls under the heading of “emergency” in my mind, so pay the bill and jump back into rebuilding your emergency fund.

You’ve done a good job of saving on $25,000 a year, but let’s look around and see what you can do about making more money, too. Additional classroom education or extra training in your field could increase your income pretty quickly. Your emergency fund probably needs to be a little bit bigger as well, and it’ll be a lot easier to make this happen if you’re bringing in more cash.

I’m sure you’re a hard-working guy, but the truth is it’s going to be pretty tough for even a small family to make it on what you’re bringing home now. Life happens, and the unexpected can become a common occurrence when there’s a little one loose in the house!

—Dave

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.
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