If You Suffered Domestic Abuse, Would You Be in a Financial Position to Leave?

The importance of emergency savings and financial health

That question is at the crux of a different kind of emergency savings fund. A “f*ck off fund” is savings you can leverage when you need to break away from your current situation – say, when you need to leave a harmful relationship or a problematic job. The term was coined a few years ago and has become popular, in recognition of its distinctiveness from other types of savings and its importance especially among women.

In a survey of adult women in the United States, 71 percent indicated they’ve stayed in a job because they couldn’t afford to leave, and 31 percent said they’ve been financially trapped in a relationship. A f*ck off fund, equivalent to roughly three-to-six months’ worth of living expenses, provides the financial means to leave any such situation and start again. This might apply if you’re unhappy with your current work or living situation. Perhaps you want to quit your job and take that internship to jumpstart your career in a different industry. Or, more importantly, if you have been sexually harassed, abused, or feel unsafe but otherwise wouldn’t have the financial means to remove yourself from a bad relationship. This sort of fund provides the financial power to leave a situation.

This kind of savings fund is in keeping with mainstream financial advice. In addition to insurance, it’s recommended to have the safety net of three-to-six months’ worth of savings. Of course, just because this is recommended doesn’t mean most of us have these sorts of savings. Additionally, there are a few characteristics that differentiate this sort of fund from other types of emergency savings. If you are in a long-term relationship and are sharing finances with your significant other, your emergency savings might be joint with that person. However, what happens if the reason you need these savings is to leave? A personal emergency fund would be advisable. If your work environment were problematic, would it be as easy for you to mobilize savings from your family and friends to leave this situation as it would be to mobilize savings for a medical expense? As with savings for education or housing, it is typically a good idea to have savings set aside exclusively for this purpose.

It’s been exhilarating and heartening recently to witness a watershed moment for action against sexual harassment and abuse in the United States. And in many of these cases, the harassers have considerable financial power over their victims.

We were tipped off on the concept of a f*ck off fund by an article in Glamour. Glamour surveyed over a thousand women in the United States and found that 72 percent of respondents did not have such a fund, and that 51 percent have less than $500 in their savings. A third of the respondents said paying down debt was their main financial goal, and half said they have gone negative on their bank balances at least once in the last year. The financial roadblock they cited most frequently was simple: they did not make enough money at their jobs. You can find the survey’s full results here.

Have you read?

Domestic Violence and Microfinance: What Is Our Role As Financial Services Providers?

The Heart and Science of Client Assessment

Can Bank Accounts Save Women’s Lives? Violence Against Women and Financial Inclusion



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