5 Scriptures on Money Financial Need 3
3. Build an Emergency Fund
Genesis 41:34-36 – Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.
In this passage from Genesis, Joseph interprets a dream the Pharaoh has had about seven fat cows grazing by a river that get swallowed up by seven skinny cows. Joseph concludes that the seven fat cows in the dream represent seven years of prosperity for Egypt, which will be followed by seven years of famine. To plan ahead for this disaster, Joseph advises the Pharaoh to store up grain during the seven good years and use that stored grain to get the country through the seven hard years to follow.
No matter whether you believe Joseph had a divine gift for interpreting dreams, there’s no denying that the advice he gives the Pharaoh is fundamentally sound. It always makes sense to save resources in good times so you have them to help you get through lean times. In modern-day America, “lean” years are less likely to be a literal famine than some sort of financial crisis, such as a job loss or a health problem that saddles you with hefty medical bills. Regardless, Joseph’s basic strategy – setting aside money for future emergencies – still holds true.
Of course, present-day financial experts tend to modify Joseph’s advice a little bit. Instead of storing up cash for seven years, they say you should set aside roughly six months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund (more if you’re self-employed or have a fluctuating income). And since you can’t predict exactly when a financial crisis will hit the way Joseph could, this money should be kept in cash or safe investments that should hold their value, so your money is there to draw on whenever you happen to need it.