Do you have money set aside for a rainy day? We can’t always prepare for unexpected expenses, and financial experts all agree having an emergency fund is a non-negotiable. If your emergency fund is not as stacked as it could be, or you don’t yet have money set aside, use these tips to grow your emergency fund and ensure you’re prepared for anything that comes your way.
Set Budgetary Goals
It’s essential that you set aside money with a certain figure in mind. Most financial advisors recommend your emergency account contains at least enough to cover four to seven months’ worth of living expenses, including rent, food, and credit payments. This number need not cover your normal income; when tapping into an emergency fund, you won’t be spending excess on vacations, food, social situations, etc. Don’t forget to include money for healthcare expenses, as job loss could also see a loss of insurance.
Set Up a Separate Account
You want to be able to access your money in case an emergency arises, but it shouldn’t be so accessible that you spend it unnecessarily. Set up an account separate from your other checking and savings accounts to create a sort of mental wall. Investing your money in an online bank could be the answer; it prevents you from simply walking into the bank and withdrawing money, essentially creating another safeguard from yourself. It’s also a good idea to split the stash between different locations. That could mean half in an online account, half in cash stored inside a safe in your home, or within stable stocks that will be easy to pull out when the need arises.
Force Your Own Hand
If you’re finding it difficult to dole out money from your paycheck to a rainy day fund, take the action out of the task by setting up automatic transfers. You can have this set up through your employer, meaning you won’t miss the money because it will be taken out and inserted into your emergency fund without you having to lift a finger. Start small, and budget funds that you are actually able to part with; creating a deficit in your budget will only see you rack up debt.
Save It for Emergencies
It can be hard to see a bundle of cash and not dip into for those yearly expenses you might have forgotten about. Annual insurance premiums, car payments, and the like are common reasons we dip into savings that should otherwise be left alone. While you might be enticed by that discounted trip to South America or see a crazy deal for flights to Europe, ignore the urge to cash in your emergency fund for luxuries you simply don’t need just because they come at a good or even great price. Also, don’t fall into the trap of combining your emergency cash flow with other important sources like a college fund for your child or a house payment.
Cut Out Unnecessary Expenditures
You might not realize the huge amounts of cash you throw away each month on expenditures. Instead of shopping at expensive grocery stores that have “brand name” foods, check out wholesalers like The Grocery Outlet for discounted food items. If you’re a smoker, you likely realize you’re throwing thousands of dollars away; if you can’t quit, at least switch to an inexpensive alternative like e-cigarettes and vaping liquid to save both your lungs and your wallet. If you’re throwing tens of dollars into a gym account each month that you don’t use, save the money and start a cheaper workout regimen at home. Little switches like these can make all the difference.
Bring More Money In
If budgeting isn’t having the effect you’re looking for, you may need to consider ways to bring in supplementary income. A side job on weekends or evenings could provide that extra oomph each month, while garage sales getting rid of old or unnecessary possessions could serve as the perfect spring cleaning while bringing in the money you need.
Create an extra cushion in your bank account for any unexpected expenses that might be thrown your way throughout the year. Stocking away a cache of cash serves as a financial security blanket that will help you and your family continue on no matter what kind of unexpected life event rears its head.