“To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect”

–           Oscar Wilde

As the expression goes, one of the key certainties of life is uncertainty, and this certainly holds true for Australian expats living and working all over the world. When it comes to planning for the unexpected and any emergencies that may come up, a core principle here is preparing your emergency fund.

Your emergency fund is your ‘rainy day’ money that can be accessed quickly in the event that something unforeseen takes place so that you can cover your living costs, pay to relocate your family, and ensure that you can get through the short-term disruption.

As a general rule, you should have between three to six months of your living expenses held in your emergency fund, however, this can vary between people, so it’s important to speak to your financial planner about what’s right for you. Depending on your circumstances, you may find that holding more in your emergency fund is a more sensible option for you.

Once you’ve determined how much should be held in your emergency fund, it’s important to explore your options about where it’s held. Remember, that this money should be immediately accessible, which doesn’t mean that it has to be cash kept in your wallet or purse, but simply means that it generally shouldn’t be locked away in long-term investments or in risky assets.

Our team at Ally Wealth Management shares some of the key options for where you could consider holding your emergency funds:

  1. Cash in the bank

Starting with the most accessible and simple option, keeping your cash in your bank account can often be the most suitable here. It’s important to consider whose name the bank account is in, as this could restrict access in the event that something happens to the account holder if the partner/spouse is not named on the account.

We know that it can be quite difficult in some countries for a non-working spouse to set up a bank account, depending on the visa situation and what the country allows, so if this is causing restrictions for you, ensure that you speak with your financial planner and consider your options here to ensure that both partners have access to some kind of an emergency fund.

  1. Offset account

You may also want to consider holding your emergency fund in your offset account if you have a mortgage or investment home loan in Australia. This may mean that you can generate a better return than simply holding cash in the bank given that it would be offsetting your mortgage interest repayments, however, given that this can impact your personal tax situation, we’d certainly suggest seeking professional advice here.

Again, the ownership of the account is important here, in addition to considering how quickly these funds could be accessed overseas in the event that they’re needed.

  1. Money market investments

Another option that you may wish to explore is low-risk, liquid money market investments that may target a higher rate of return than simply keeping your cash in the bank. In a low interest-rate environment, you may find that these do not add a great deal by way of additional return for the cost of reducing the liquidity of your funds.

Again, it’s important here to do your research and seek professional advice on suitable options here.

Remember, your emergency fund is there to protect you and your loved ones from life’s unexpected events, such as an unexpected health issue, job loss, or another family emergency. Once you have your emergency fund in place, then you can start to consider investing your other assets targeting higher rates of return in line with your personal financial goals and objectives.


Ally Wealth Management is the trusted ally in finance for Australians at home and across the globe. As both Australian expats and residents, the founders of Ally have a unique understanding of the common personal financial challenges faced.

Book your complimentary appointment with our team at Ally Wealth Management to discuss how we can help you to achieve your financial goals.

Ally Wealth Management Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Sentry Advice Pty Ltd ABN 77 103 642 888. Sentry Advice holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) No. 227 748.

General Advice Warning: The information contained herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute personal advice. You should not act on any recommendation without considering your personal needs, circumstances, and objectives. We recommend you obtain professional financial advice specific to your circumstances.