10 Ideas to Build an Emergency Fund—FAST

You think that pipe under the sink is gonna wait for you to have a plumber on stand-by before it busts and attempts to flood your kitchen?

You think your car checks your bank account first to make sure you have the repair funds before deciding to conk out?

And what about your own two feet? You think they ask you “Hey, you ready for a hospital bill right now?” before you accidentally trip down the stairs and break your arm?

We can’t sugarcoat these things. Sometimes life doesn’t just give you lemons; it chucks them at you—hard.

And to deal with emergencies that always seem to happen at the worst times (is there ever a good time for one?), we need to be prepared. Which leads us to today’s topic…

…an emergency fund provides a cushion against—you guessed it—unexpected emergencies. If you’re wondering how to put some money aside for a rainy day, here are 10 ways to build an emergency fund fast, no matter your current income!

Let’s create a budget

If you’re already struggling to save, or you’re on a tight budget, the first step to start saving is to start budgeting. A budget will show you what your money goes towards every month and allows you to see which expenses you can cut down on (or cut out completely) to stop overspending or save money each month. 

Create a budget by using a budgeting app or software, a computer program like MS Excel or a similar program, or using the good old-fashioned pen and paper method. When you create your first budget, you might be surprised at how much money is being spent on nonessentials. 

Pay yourself first

Be sure to include a budget line item for your emergency fund in your “expenses” category. Treat saving money like any other expense to ensure you contribute to it every month.

Don’t wait until the end of the month to see how much you have leftover to put towards emergency savings; instead, pay yourself first (at the beginning of the month or each time you get paid) by reserving a certain amount. By doing this, you’ll be less tempted to spend on nonessentials because it’ll already be safely tucked away!

Cut back on spending

Once you have your budget in place, you’ll see where you can cut spending to save money each month. Identify areas in your budget where overspending is an issue, and then work on those areas to save money quicker.

You could also save money on your monthly fixed bills. Try renegotiating for lower rates on expenses like cell phone contracts or cable packages, or even shop around for cheaper car insurance.

Here are a few more options to cut back on spending:

  • Cancel unused/unnecessary subscriptions and memberships (gym/club memberships, online streaming services, etc.)
  • Bring your own lunch and coffee to work
  • Invest in a reusable water bottle to stop spending on bottled water
  • Cook more at home to avoid eating out as much
  • Renegotiate for lower rates with service providers 
  • Downgrade your services
  • Buy generic items over name brand items
  • Turn the thermostat down a degree or two
  • Use a 0% balance transfer credit card to pay off credit card debt fast and save on interest payments
  • Buy second hand items
  • Use the public transport

There are lots of ways to save money every month without changing your lifestyle! Get creative and think outside the box.

Automatic savings

In reference to paying yourself first, make that happen every month by automating your savings. Set up an automatic transfer for a certain amount from your checking to your savings at the beginning of each month or each time you get a paycheck. 

Stash your windfalls

One of the best ways to save fast is to put your windfalls into your emergency savings fund—immediately. You can’t really count on them as part of your living expenses; it’s basically found or gifted money! So, if you stash it in your emergency fund right away, you’ll hardly even miss it.

And be careful not to splurge with any cash windfalls, either. If you get a tax refund, commissions, or a bonus from your employer, store that baby away for emergencies as quickly as you get it!

Get a second job

If you have the time (and the energy), a second job can make a huge difference when you’re operating on a tight budget or struggling to save. 

If you get a second job even for a few weeks, use the extra money earned from that job to specifically go to emergency savings. Whether it’s a part-time evening job, seasonal job, or weekend job, you have options when it comes to figuring out what works for you.

Try a no-spend challenge

During a no-spend challenge, you try your best to only spend on essentials like mortgage, rent, groceries, and bills for a set period of time. It prevents you from spending on any nonessentials temporarily, so it’s a great way to save up fast.

If you go for this option, try the spending freeze for a weekend, a week, or even a month. The challenge period is completely up to you!

Sell some old stuff

You know what they say… one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Take a look at the things lying around your house that you’ll never use or haven’t used in a while.

Keep an eye out for anything unwanted: old clothes, toys, bags, jewelry, electronics, cell phones, televisions, furniture, and so on. Items like these can be sold through a number of websites and apps. 

Sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace allow you to sell a wide range of things you don’t need or want anymore, and apps like Decluttr, Gazelle, Poshmark, OfferUp, and thredUP are great for getting rid of unnecessary household items. Or, set some time aside to hold a garage/yard sale for extra cash to use for emergency savings.

Rent out on Airbnb

If you have a spare bedroom, an open guest house, or you’ll be away from your house for some time, Airbnb is a great way to make some quick cash!

You don’t even have to live in an area where housing is in high demand; travelers will always need a place to stay, and with the ever-growing popularity of Airbnb over hotel rooms, you’d probably have a good chance of being booked!

Get started by creating a listing on Airbnb, and when someone makes a reservation, Airbnb will directly send you payment 24 hours after the guest checks in. 

Earn extra money

If you have a marketable skill and some spare time, there are plenty of easy ways to make some fast cash thanks to the internet and gig economy. Here are some examples:

  • Remote customer service rep for companies (Apple, Amazon, Hilton, American Express, etc.)
  • Freelance (Upwork, PeoplePerHour, Freelancer, or Guru, and online marketplaces like Fiverr)
  • Tutor online
  • Write or blog online (Textbroker, iWriter, Online Writing Jobs, etc.)
  • Paid surveys online (Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, InboxDollar, PrizeRebel, etc.)
  • Test apps and websites (UserTesting, Userfeel, TryMyUI, WhatUsersDo, etc.)
  • Proofread or transcribe online
  • Manage social media accounts and online pages
  • Deliver for on-demand delivery services (Shipt, Postmates, DoorDash, etc.)
  • Food delivery driver (UberEats, DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates, etc.)

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and how much you earn from one of the ideas above depends on your skills, experience, and time!

So—how much money do you need for emergencies anyways?

There’s no perfect answer to this question because everyone’s situation is different. Some financial experts strongly recommend having at least six to nine months worth of living expenses in an emergency fund, while others suggest that three months is enough.

If you have high-interest credit card debt and are struggling to pay down debt, you can aim for saving $1,000 (or even just $500 to start). With an extra $1,000, you can probably cover a number of small, unexpected emergencies.

Once you have $1,000 stocked away, you can work on growing your fund even more for larger emergencies, while continuing to reduce debt, save money in your budget, or earn extra money.

Once you’ve paid off that high-interest debt, you can aim for saving enough in your emergency fund to cover a year’s worth of expenses.

But always remember, it’s totally fine to start small when you’re just starting out! Some things take time. 🙂

With that being said…

Just because “emergency fund” has the word “emergency” in it, doesn’t mean it’s scary or difficult to do! With just a little time, effort, and focus on the end goal, you’ll be able to build an emergency fund fast.

Make it happen, and let me know down below what ways you’re choosing to save up for those pesky unexpected emergencies!

Make that money, mama!

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