Stashing your extra dollars into a rainy-day fund isn’t the most fun way to use your money, but it’s a key part of building a solid financial future (oh, adulting). While budgeting is easier if you have a great budget template and learn some easy ways to save money, it’s still tough to know how much stockpiled cash is actually enough.

We recently heard about the 3-6-9 rule, which is basically a quick guideline to how much you should have saved up for different situations. To gain some clarity around exactly what the 3-6-9 rule is and how to put it into practice, we chatted with David Bakke from Money Crashers, a platform that helps people make smarter financial decisions. Take his top-notch advice to start padding your savings (up to at least the amount below) ASAP.


3 Months of Savings

Recent grads and people who are only a few years out of college, listen up. David tells us that the standard rule that says to have three months of savings works well for those who are young and single. The reason is that you hopefully have fewer expenses at this time in your life, and can likely find work a bit easier than older counterparts.

“When you’re young, you also have MUCH more time to pay off any debt that might arise. This is important if you do run through your three months of emergency funds,” David says. The same doesn’t necessarily apply to older people or those who are buried under additional expenses like a high mortgage, advanced education, a wedding or even family expenses. Another factor to consider is graduated student loan repayment, which means that you begin paying back your debt at a lower rate that increases over time, and hopefully correlates with a higher salary as you gain experience in the work world.


6 months of savings

If your job security isn’t super strong, shoot for six months of savings. If you’re an older worker or have a career in a rather specialized industry, six month is also a good goal, since if you lose your job, it might take you a bit longer than normal to find work. But, believe it or not, six months is actually the average amount of time that Americans spend unemployed before re-entering the workforce.

“In most cases, six months of savings is a legitimate goal and a good amount to cover you if unexpected, unfortunate events take place,” David says. You might also want to tap into this money for long-term necessities, like a new car to get you to and from work, furniture for your apartment or repairs on a new house.


9 months of savings

There are heaps of situations that require even more savings than that solid six months worth, but the most common one is starting a family, which often means “there’s a lot more at stake,” David says. So, if you have a bun in the oven, or have already started a family, keep growing your financial safety net.

David also told us stockpiling nine months’ worth of expenses can help ease tons of stress and give you some capital if you choose to make your personal dreams come true too by launching your own business or putting in time on an unpaid project. Whether you work from home or run your own small business, David reminds us that “these types of careers can definitely be a bit more volatile compared to those that are more traditional, like working for a stable corporation or someone else’s successful company.” So prepare by stashing lots of cash, and if your plan doesn’t work out, it’ll be disappointing, but not financially devastating.

What are your tricks for growing your savings? Share ‘em all with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)