The back-up plan

It's not sexy, but it can save your bacon. Get to know your emergency fund.

This article was originally published by USA Today in the fall 2011 issue of Men's Health Magazine.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

The emergency fund: it's that pile of cash that's just sitting there, ready for you to lose your job. The traditional advice is to save six to 12 months' living expenses.

How could you possibly save that much -- and why would you want to keep such a large chunk of change in an account earning 0.1 percent annual interest anyway?

Don't sweat it.

By rethinking the very nature of the emergency fund, you can piece together enough cash, safe investments, credit, and other resources to carry you through a job loss, illness, or other unexpected emergency.

And if you're not there yet: Read on, so that you'll know what to do when those paychecks get a little fatter. Read the entire article (page down after you click through).