Expanding your emergency fund
Once you have your first $1,000 saved, it's time to beef up your emergency fund to handle bigger emergencies, such as a job loss or medical situation. Of course, you hope that these issues never arise, but at least you can be prepared if they do. Most experts recommend saving up enough to cover three to six months2 of expenses to be safe. If you have a highly variable income or an unusually high level of financial responsibility, saving up to 12 months of expenses can potentially be a good idea.
The good news here is that you don't need to save for every single expense that you would have during more financially stable times. For instance, don't worry about saving enough to cover retirement or 529 contributions -- you're planning for a financial emergency, after all. And there are likely items in your budget that you could easily cut back on during tough times, such as your Hulu subscription or weekly takeout. Instead, take a look at your family budget and aim to save for your monthly fixed and variable expenses, minus savings and discretionary spending.
Keep in mind that even if you can afford it, you don't want your emergency fund to be too big.3 It should be enough to float you through tough times, but not so large that you neglect other important financial goals such as paying down debt or investing.
And remember, if you need some guidance regarding how much, exactly, you should have saved based on your expenses and lifestyle, it never hurts to get a professional opinion.