Sudden expenses can hit you at any time, and they’re not always cheap. If it’s a home repair, a medical bill or something goes wrong with your car, you could be looking at hundreds of dollars or more that you’ll need to pay out of pocket. This is why it’s always smart to have an emergency savings fund.
But how do you save up enough money to build a suitable emergency savings fund? It’s all a matter of changing your spending habits.
Make a Budget
If you don’t have a budget, then you’re essentially just winging it when it comes to your personal finances, and that’s rarely a successful strategy. Create a spreadsheet or a document with all your monthly income and expenses. Then, look at how much money you have left over every month after paying all your bills.
If you don’t have any money left over or you’re actually spending more than you make each month, then you need to either cut back on your expenses or find a way to increase your income.
Put Money Towards Your Emergency Savings Fund First
Once you know how much extra money you have every month, decide on an amount to contribute towards your emergency savings fund and put that in your budget as a new expense. Here’s the most important part: pay this first every time you receive your paycheck. When you wait until the last minute to put money towards your emergency savings fund, it’s far too easy to spend that money elsewhere.
Save Your Extra Money
When you buy something and get smaller bills or coins back, stash those in a jar at home. Deposit this money in your emergency savings fund at the end of every month, or when you fill up the jar. If you end up with some extra money by selling something or getting a refund on your taxes, save that instead of spending it on something you don’t need.
Reduce Your Spending
There are often plenty of simple little ways that you can lower the amount you spend every month, leaving you with more money to save. Are you grabbing lunch from a fast-food restaurant near your work 5 days per week? Start making your lunches at home instead. Are you spending hundreds of dollars on gas every month? See if any of your coworkers live near you so you two can carpool.
Use Your Emergency Savings Fund for Actual Emergencies
Remember why you’re saving this money – financial emergencies that can strike whenever and wherever. That means you shouldn’t use it for a big-ticket purchase, or buying holiday gifts or anything else that isn’t an emergency.
Credit cards can be used as a source of emergency spending needs. And if you have high interest rates then consider transferring your balance to some 0 interest credit cards and keep them on hand for emergencies only.
Financial experts typically recommend you try to save about 6 months of income in your emergency savings fund. This may seem daunting, but every little bit helps. When you develop the right habits, you’ll be able to build up a solid savings fairly quickly.