You’ve almost certainly heard plenty already about how you need an emergency fund. And if you’ve ever had reason to use one, you’ll know exactly why this point is driven home in every personal finance advice column. When things hit the fan, having this cushion to fall back on can make an otherwise painful time a little more bearable. But how do you build the emergency fund? What’s the optimal e-fund look like? And, perhaps most important, is knowing when it’s appropriate to use it. We’ve pulled together 10 tips on emergency funds to help you navigate this.

Save For Only Necessities

Your emergency fund doesn’t need to take into account your video game habit or your trips out of the country on vacation.

Use Only In Case Of Emergency

On the flip side of that, you should only be using your e-fund for actual emergencies, such as job loss or medical bills.

6 Months In Savings

Depending on the job market when you receive a pink slip, you might be passing out resumes for a few months before you land on your feet.

Anything Is Better Than Nothing

A few hundred dollars can still help you out of some financial pitfalls, so don’t feel like a smaller e-fund is worthless until you’ve hit your goal.

High Yield Savings Accounts

Your emergency fund is not destined for the stock market or fancy CDs, it needs to be readily available in something like a savings account with a good interest rate.

Set Goals

Whether you need to set weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual goals, do whatever will keep you on track best.

Set Aside Windfalls

Getting a tax return, bonus or other unexpected money? An emergency fund is a great place for some or even all of it.

Reassess Regularly

You should be checking in regularly with your progress to ensure you’re hitting those goals.

Cut Expenses

Are you struggling to set aside any money at all? Chances are that you’ll need to figure out a way to cut expenses, or you’ll end up in financial trouble when a car breaks down.

Celebrate the Wins

When you hit milestones, celebrate those accomplishments!