It’s no secret that building — let alone starting — an emergency savings account is no easy task. With many Americans paying off debt and being strapped for extra cash, it can be hard to build the six months’ worth of living expenses that most financial experts recommend you have. So, how do you even get started?
There are many unexpected events that can happen in life, but some major ones include:
- Loss of job
- Major car or home repairs
- Injury that puts you out of work
- Medical bills
Being burdened with anything like this can be a huge setback, which is why it’s important to be prepared for anything life throws your way. That’s why we’re breaking down a few simple ways for you to start an emergency fund.
1. Find Ways to Cut Extra Spending
This first step can seem a bit obvious, but identifying extra spending is the best way to find extra savings. That coffee you grab before work, the social events you attend, the takeout you treat yourself to every once in a while — what doesn’t seem like a huge chunk of change in the moment probably adds up to a lot more than you think.
Start by making note of your extra spending for an entire week. Once you add everything up, seeing the number alone may be enough to help you tighten your budget. But if you’re already aware that you need to cut excess spending, you can begin by setting limits around it.
This doesn’t mean you have to eliminate everything or move the word ‘no’ to the top of your vocabulary. Instead of getting a coffee every day, get one once a week. Instead of dining out every week, treat yourself only on special occasions. Instead of saying ‘yes’ to every social outing, limit yourself to just one a month.
Not only can you set some boundaries and limits with extra spending, but you can also find creative ways to reap the same benefits. Make a coffee at home and create a new morning ritual or take turns with a group of friends hosting each other at home for dinner, drinks, or a game night. Get even more tips to cut excess spending.
2. Set Up Automatic Transfers
Setting up automatic transfers is one of the simplest ways to start an emergency fund. Even starting small can help you save without having to think about it. First, pick one or two dates a month — maybe the same days you receive your paychecks — and set up an automatic transfer into your savings. Even if it’s just $50, it’s $50 more than you had before.
Another way to do this is to skip the middleman — your bank — and have a portion of your paychecks go straight into your savings account. If that money never goes into your checking account, then you may not even miss it. Going this route may require filling out a form or two through your employer, but the work upfront is worth not having to worry about putting aside that money each month.
3. Earn Extra Income
Earning extra income can require a bit of extra work, but having a safety net in the form of emergency savings may be worth it. First, look for valuable items around your home that you no longer use — things like electronics, equipment, furniture, and jewelry — and post them for sale using online networks and communities. It’s a quick way to earn extra cash with the bonus of cleaning out your home.
Another way to earn additional income is to seek a part-time or second job. Find one that’s a few days — or maybe even hours — a week that can bring in extra cash. You can also seek a one-time gig that can earn you a good chunk of money to start your emergency savings. Get creative while seeking a second job; think of skills you have that can be of use to someone else, or find places and people you enjoy and ask if they’re in need of any help.
Bonus tip: Find a place you may spend a lot of time and/or money in (like your favorite coffee shop) and see if their employees benefit from discounts or free perks. That way you’re earning and saving at the same time!
4. Take Advantage of Low- to No-Interest Payments
If you’re working to pay off debts like student loans, credit cards, or large purchases you’ve financed, there may be an opportunity to use some of those payments to put towards your savings instead. From time to time, companies will offer zero- or low-interest rates for a certain period and require only a minimum payment each month. And if you’re paying above that minimum amount, that’s extra money you could be paying yourself.
For example, if you pay $100 toward a credit card every month but the minimum payment is only $50, you might consider putting the other $50 in your savings account. Here’s why: Instead of using all your money towards paying off the credit card that’s accruing little to no interest, you can use it to build an emergency savings. So, in the event of an emergency, you’re less likely to turn to a credit card to pay for it and get hit with interest once your zero- or low-financing period expires. And once your emergency savings goals are met, you can start upping your credit card payments again.
5. Turn to LendNation
If you’re one of several Americans who don’t quite have your emergency savings built up yet or you have an emergency that out-matches your account — don’t panic. Whether you’re dealing with a costly situation or you need cash quickly, Lend Nation can help you out. Stop by one of our many locations or fill out our online application to get started so we can help you get back on track.