Emergency Fund – The Secrets to Saving Now
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Imagine you wake up, get ready for work and start to walk out the door. Suddenly you step into a puddle on the carpet. The next step is an even bigger puddle! What is this? Why is the carpet drenched? After searching more, you realize your water heater has flooded! (True story)
Imagine sitting in your miserably hot house because your air conditioner broke. The unbearable 90 degrees humid weather creeps in and you and your family are left hot and crabby! (True story)
Both of these situations happened to me and my family. These were times when we needed a large amount of money to fix the situation at hand. Fortunately, we had an emergency fund saved to ease the burden of these surprise bills. Whether it be your water heater, new roof, health emergency, car accident or any other situation with a surprise bill, there are times in life when you need extra money above your regular budget. (Budgets 2017, New Year, New Budget)
According to Forbes, over half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and have less than $1000 in a savings or checking account. Living paycheck to paycheck leaves no cushion to help ease the burden of car repairs or dental bills. The only option when a surprise bill pops up is to pull out the plastic dungeon of debt. Using credit cards increases your chances of always owing money and prevents financial freedom.
56.3% of people do not have the minimum recommended $1000 in an emergency fund. (Source Forbes) When life’s little mishaps happen, many are left unprepared and dig themselves further into the debt train. This is a train you want to exit, my friends.
Car repairs, house repairs, doctor’s bills…This is where the emergency fund kicks in. Having an emergency fund will ease the burden of these bills and keep you from accumulating debt.
Nonetheless, saving money is difficult. Hence, I recommend starting with a mini emergency fund of around $500-1000 to help cover unexpected bills. Then later, after paying off debt, add 3-6 months of your living expenses.
How Do I Save for an Emergency Fund?
Maybe you don’t have extra money after the bills are paid. If this is the case, consider a “side hustle” until you can build up a mini emergency fund. Check out my post on how I earned an extra $250 for Christmas shopping for some ideas or keep reading below.
It is difficult to come up with extra money but setting aside just $10 a week, will help you begin. That’s $40 a month or $520 a year. Most of us can manage $10 a week. I also suggest setting up a separate account specifically for your emergency fund. In this way you are less likely to spend the money. However, if you literally have no money when the bills are paid, consider some of the options listed below.
Earn Extra Money and Contribute to an Emergency Fund:
- Have a “No Spend” month. There are many great ideas on the Internet for things to do during a “No Spend” month. Put the extra money in your Emergency fund. Here is a great post on Tips for a No Spend Day or Week by Kristen Larsen at Believe in a Budget.com.
- Reduce Grocery Spending. You can use cash back apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51. Also, consider using meal planning to reduce your monthly food budget. (Check out my Budget-Friendly Two-week Dinner Meal Planning for $75 for some ideas.)
- Forgo your expensive morning coffee for a month. If you are spending $4 on a cup of coffee five times a week, you would have $80 towards your emergency fund at the end of the month.
- Take a lunch – Buying lunch daily can become quite expensive. Packing a sandwich, snack, and then drinking water, will save you a tremendous amount of money.
- Proclaim this an eating-in month. Avoid pricey restaurants and save money by eating at home. Use meal-planning and coupons to save additional money on your grocery budget. Also, use up items in your pantry and freezer by adding them to your meal plan.
- Cash in old, unwanted gift cards – If you have gift cards you have not used or that have a remaining balance, you can sell them on sites such as cardpool.com for cash.
- Use a monthly budget to help keep track of where your money is going and plan better for savings.
- Offer your services to earn extra cash. Some ideas are pet sitting, house sitting, and/or babysitting.
- Sell your skills on sites like Fiverr – Have a talent that could help others? Fiverr is a great way to earn extra cash online.
- Start a blog – Blogging is a great way to earn extra money. You can make money using affiliate links, ads and sponsored posts on your site. I recommend using bluehost as a web hosting service.
- Sell your stuff – There are many great online sites to help you make extra cash selling gently used items. My favorites are Poshmark (Poshmark is mainly for clothing and makeup. Use code NXUIA to sign up and receive $5) and Mercari (use code UYYBUS receive $2). Letgo and Facebook marketplaces are also good sites to use.
- “Do it yourself” instead of paying someone else – If you are trying to save, consider cutting your own lawn, cleaning your own house, doing your own nails, etc. until you have pumped up that emergency fund.
- Part-time job – If all else fails, consider a part-time job for a few month while you are saving. Seasonal jobs around the Holidays are great for adding bonus cash to your fund.
- Cut the cord – Consider cutting your cable for 3-4 months to save money. Instead try Hulu or Netflix for under $10 per a month, instead of paying $70-$200 a month for cable.
Reasons to Have an Emergency Fund:
What if you lose your job? Will you have enough money to get by? Money expert Suzie Orman recommends saving at least 8-12 months salary. Therefore, if you lose your job or quit without another job, you will then be able to pay your bills.
Health emergencies happen every day. What if you were left unable to work until you recover? Will your insurance cover your bills? If not, you need an emergency fund until you are well again.
At times medical bills pop up. For example, your son fell off the bunk bed and broke his arm. You are now on your way to the emergency room. Moreover, an average trip to the ER is $1,233. (Source The Washington Post). Again, with no emergency fund, you are forced to use credit cards.
Owning a home can become a huge financial burden. According to Heating and Cooling by Cassel, a furnace needs to be replaced every 16-20 years. Other expensive replacements include roofing, water heaters, air conditioning, refrigerators, and other appliances. Furthermore, these repairs will come up eventually and will be expensive. Are you ready?
Another true story…. I got in a car accident and my new car was totaled. Besides major whiplash, thank goodness I was okay. However, I needed extra money to pay for a rental. I had to get to work and my commute was 30 minutes away. I also needed cash for a car down payment. Luckily, I had a small emergency fund at the time. It covered these costs and helped tremendously. Nonetheless, I had to build it back up after this incident.
Don’t Rely on Plastic
Credit cards will get you nowhere! Sure, they can help in an emergency, but you must factor in your interest rate. The human mind likes easy decisions. It is easy to swipe a card and not think. Yet, how much you will pay in the long run? It is just another bill, right? When you are only paying the minimum you end up paying an enormous amount more than what you initially spent.
Peace of Mind
An emergency fund will give you peace of mind. Furthermore, you will also feel content knowing you have built an insurance for yourself and your family to use when needed.
Once you start accumulating your cushion, you will feel at ease. You can rest easy knowing you are able to pay any surprise bill that may pop up! Keep your head up and keep smiling! You’ve got it in the bank!
Please leave me a comment! Do you have an emergency fund? How were you able to save? Do you have any questions about Emergency Funds? I would love to help!
Until next time! Take care – Sarah