Every financially responsible adult should have an emergency fund; when it’s about financial emergencies, it’s not about if they’ll happen, but when they’re going to – and the difference between sink-or-swim when something happens that requires cash could be your emergency fund.
Statistics say that as much as 40% of Americans don’t have enough cash saved away to cover a $1, 000 financial emergency. If this describes you – and even if it doesn’t – there’s very good reason to have an emergency stash fund in place.
Emergency funds can be your safety net when something happens. They can also stop you from getting into more debt or needing to apply for a payday loan online when you need cash fast.
Here are 10 great tips for creating and supplementing an emergency fund.
1. Explore Different Account Options
There are different types of accounts – and many different banks – where you can store your emergency savings. Explore the different options of each, and don’t settle for the first account option that you see. Many accounts offer a higher interest rate compared to others, which works in your favor when saving money for the long-term.
Also remember that while some bank accounts might charge what seems like high fees, many times the interest rate they offer can make it worthwhile.
Long-term deposit accounts versus savings accounts can give you higher interest rates, too, but it takes 3 months or more to withdraw your funds, which is an obvious drawback when faced with a time-sensitive emergency.
2. Budgeting for Savings
Learn how to incorporate regular savings into your weekly or monthly budget. It can seem like there’s not enough money left to save, but if you add up all of the things that you didn’t really have to buy – like that extra candy bar – and turned that money into savings instead, you would be able to put away at least a little bit every month as regular savings.
First, decide that you’re going to save something every month. You don’t have to decide how much immediately: It counts as long as it’s something, and even little amounts will eventually add up to a larger amount.
Next, slice off your current budget what you can: You’d be surprised at how much of a difference small changes can make.
3. Use Tech to Save
Apps and software can make saving up an emergency fund a lot easier. There are some budgeting apps which track your spending in real-time, tell you where you could have saved and suggest shopping alternatives where you could have gotten something better or cheaper.
Reliable budgeting apps can even help you estimate what your next week or month’s spending might be, while suggesting practical ways to save that align with your real-life spending.
If you have trouble with pen-and-paper budgeting, use a little bit of technology for added help.
4. Have Several Funds
It’s better to have several smaller emergency funds than one large one.
Splitting up your emergency fund will allow for diversification – use the benefits of one bank and the benefits of another at the same time; for example, have one section of your savings in a long-term deposit account with a high interest rate, and another section of your savings somewhere it can be accessed immediately.
This way, there are different emergency savings accounts for different emergencies.
5. Sell Some Stuff
Find and use every possible opportunity to increase your emergency fund with extra cash; instead of splurging or spending, put the money away – and yes, you’ll be happier and financially healthier when you’ve learned how to do this.
The majority of households have a few things that they aren’t using; sometimes this is an entire garage or roomful of stuff that nobody has thought about in years. Go through your stuff and decide what’s useful or not
Take anything you can sell. Pawn it or take it online, and turn useless stuff into emergency savings cash instead.
6. Save Your Cents
Cents, change and decimal amounts that are left over in your accounts at the end of every month might not seem like much now, but compounded over the period of a few months it can easily turn into a larger amount that adds to your emergency savings account.
Forgotten change in couches, change from purchases, little bits left over in bank accounts; people often forget about these smaller amounts entirely and they’re instead usually lost to bank fees, but save them before they disappear on you and you might have a much heavier and healthier emergency fund by the end of the year.
7. Minimize Debt and Increase Emergency Funds
When you have an emergency fund in place to draw from, you will be less likely to rely on debt in the event that an emergency happens – and it’s much less likely that you’ll end up with bad credit as a result. Debt isn’t always bad, but having emergency cash to lean on instead of resorting to debt could save your financial record from being obliterated if it’s a health-related or particularly costly emergency.
8. Online Side Jobs
There are plenty of online side jobs out there which can help you to increase your emergency funds before an emergency actually happens. From offering typing services through to completing surveys, there are plenty of ways to earn yourself extra cash without even having to leave the house.
9. Invest Some
Emergency cash doesn’t have to be tied up in savings accounts alone; emergency investments also count. There are many available that don’t require a lot of money to start off, but can offer consistent returns – and these assets also count as cash in the event of an emergency if they can be accessed when you need them most.
10. Don’t Blow It
It can be tempting to take funds out of your emergency money for things that really aren’t emergencies. Decide which type of emergencies you’ll consider “break into the emergency fund money” type of emergencies, and never deplete your emergency fund for anything else. See why it’s useful to have several savings funds?