Your Practice Needs an Emergency Fund

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “if something can go wrong, it will.” It’s a hard mantra to live by because it requires that we live with both our present and future needs in mind. This is a topic we often address with our clients, but can so easily forget to practice them in our own lives. Saving money is not for those preoccupied with immediate gratification.

The reality is that our private practices need to operate similar to our individual/personal finances. We need a budget, a plan, for how we are going to spend the money we earn.

Last summer I received a letter from a stock-photo company (Getty images) letting me know that I was required to pay for an unauthorized use of an image they owned. I was shocked. I’m not one to use someone else’s content without prior consent or a link back to the original item. As one who works hard for the content I create, I don’t want it stolen from me.

I write a blog on my website and will occasionally use photos to help illustrate a particular article I’m publishing. Several years ago I used an image I found on someone else’s website that was a generic picture of a theater stage. I assumed the image was free to use since there was not watermark and/or copyright associated with it. I usually put a link back to the original origin of the image since I don’t always use my own images.

Getty images was asking for over $500 for the use of this image. I’ll not bore you with the details, but I negotiated a settlement and paid the fee (mainly out of my own mental health, I did not want to ignore their request for payment and suffer unknowingly if a lawsuit — however unlikely — would ever happen). I had the money for this fee only because I keep several accounts funded with money not needed for my monthly operations. One of these accounts is an emergency fund that is rarely robust in it’s amount, but it does have a little extra money for mistakes or needs to suddenly arise in my practice.

I took care of this emergency and moved on to more pressing issues. Regardless of what stage you are in with your business, setup an account (or physical envelope) like this. When something unwanted hits the fan, you’ve got your bases covered. Start with putting $50 a month in there, and only touch it for emergencies. When an emergency does arise (and it will!), your mental health will thank you.

PS. Don’t use other people’s images for blog posts (no charge for that advice 🙂 ).

Posted in Accounting / Finances, Self Care / Therapists and tagged , , , , , , , .