Emergency funds are wonderful things. Imagine how relieved you will feel when one of life’s unexpected emergencies comes calling and you have some cash put away to deal with it. First, though, you have to find a way to build that emergency fund. It can seem like a huge challenge to come up with a sizeable amount of cash but like any other savings goal, you need to just take it one step at a time. I’ve listed 10 ways to help you find cash you need to build up your fund. If you don’t currently have an emergency fund in place, or yours is underfunded, I encourage you to make a plan starting today to get this taken care of – what a great goal to start the New Year with! It will make a difference in your financial situation. Life happens – be prepared.
1. Hold a garage sale
A garage sale allows you to sell many items all at once. If you’re willing to invest a few hours of prep work and devote a Saturday morning to running your sale, you could earn a lot of money. Holding the sale may be a lot of work, but the work will definitely be worthwhile. It is also a perfect way to multi-task. I’ve found that decluttering with the goal of raising cash is a powerful motivator. Plus, you get the added benefit of a cleaner house.
2. Bank your grocery savings.
Do you shop at one of those grocery stores that adds up your savings from coupons and sales and displays it at the bottom of your receipt? A relatively painless way to fund an emergency account is to write yourself a check for that amount as you grocery shop each week. Deposit that check into your savings account, and you’ll have a healthy savings account before you know it.
3. Pack your own lunch.
If you are regularly purchasing your lunch at work, brown bagging it for a month or two can allow you to save as much $25 or more per week – That adds up to a $200 savings if you can do it for 2 months.
4. Sell some stuff on ebay, or Amazon, or Craigslist.
Old cell phones, video games, kids clothes and music CDs are good sellers. Clean out the kids’ closets and grab some extra cash at the same time.
5. Take on some extra hours.
Many employers are grateful to have their workers cheerfully offer to take on extra hours. Working an extra shift each week will result in a nice addition to your regular paycheck.
6. Save your tax refund.
Whether you get a hefty tax refund or a meager one, chances are that you don’t include that extra money in your monthly budget. You can simply deposit this in your rainy day, or emergency, fund to get a jump start on building it.
7. Carpool to work.
You have to go to work everyday, but you can make that journey much more cost-effective by sharing its cost with some of your other coworkers. Talk to folks who work the same hours (or close) as you and see if they would be interested in making the trip together.
8. Cancel your cable.
Many families spend anywhere from $50 to $100 each month for cable or satellite television service. Imagine how quickly that money would add up if you were able to hide it in your emergency fund. You’d also have more free time if you and your family weren’t glued to the television every night.
9. Round up your debit card purchases.
Check to see if your bank offers the program whereby your debit card purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is deposited into your account.
10. Pause your 401(k) contributions.
Suspending your contributions to your retirement accounts will allow you to funnel more money towards you emergency fund. Don’t forget, though, to resume your contributions as soon as you are able.