15 hacks to build your emergency fund – FAST!
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Last week we broke down the ins and outs of Emergency Funds. If you still aren’t sold on the idea of having a buffer of protection between you and a burst pipe, check out that post here! (Plus grab our Emergency Fund Tracker freebie!!)
Today we are coming in hot with 15 ways to build up your Emergency fund FAST! With these tips and tricks, you’ll have a thousand dollars saved in no time! And, if you stick with it, the fully-funded will be done before you know it, too!
Are you ready? Let’s gooooooo!
1. Purge your house and sell all the things.
Take a wander through your home, gather any piece of clothing, sporting gear, household item, electronic or toy that you and your humans no longer use and sell them! The internet is a marvelous place where, for free, you can sell all your worldly possessions to bring in an extra few dollars. Or hundreds of dollars, as was the case in my house!
Treat selling like it is your part-time job!
Every time you make a sale, whether it is two dollars or twenty dollars, put that money into a jar or an envelope. When you have enough coins, roll them and take them to the bank. Drop the bills in there too.
As soon as the money lands in your account, move it back out again – to wherever you are keeping your emergency fund!
2. Reduce your grocery budget!
The grocery store is this magic place that money disappears in the blink of an eye. Poof – it’s gone!
Check out these ten ways to cut back at the grocery store for some tips to save money.
Freeing up those extra dollars can help build your emergency fund in a hurry!
3. Skip your expensive dinner out – eat at home instead.
Restaurants, man. I’m not going to lie to you – I have developed a passion for going to new restaurants and trying new eats. This is a huge shift, as I have always been a creature of habit and up until recently I’d happily go to the corner pub and order the regular every week, forever.
The trouble with this new, fun hobby though? It is expensive! I can blow through our restaurant budget in the first few days of the month and then it’s downhill from there.
You can save a pretty penny by skipping the restaurants and having dinner at home. Yah, you have to cook and clean up too, BUT the reward of financial peace is worth it.
4. Pick up extra shifts at work.
If you can do this, I can’t recommend it enough. I’m a teacher, so while I work a million hours, my paycheque stays the same. But, fortunately for me, Dan can pick up overtime hours. This extra income made a huge HUGE impact on our emergency fund and, once that was complete, our debt snowball too!
When I create each monthly budget, I base our income on the lowest amount Daniel could make. So every penny of overtime money is ‘extra’ in my budget.
On payday, I do a bit of quick math. How much more is the cheque than I had banked on? Down to the penny, I moved that extra money to our emergency fund. Immediately.
For example, if I base our budget on his cheque being $1500 and in reality he brings in $2200 because of all the sweet overtime he worked, BOOM, there’s $700. If you can pick up extra hours, you’ll have that thousand dollars in no time!
5. Start a side hustle.
Extra money can come from all different sources. Start a dog walking service, or babysit in the evenings, or deliver pizzas.
We live in an age where it’s easier than ever to pick up an extra job that can be flexible with your schedule and needs. Depending on where you live, services like Uber, Skip the Dishes, or similar delivery programs are awesome potential money-makers to build up your emergency fund!
6. Quit the subscriptions.
Streaming services, make-up boxes, random gaming sites – ask yourself if you use or need those services. If the answer is no, cancel the subscription and pocket the change.
And by “pocket the change,” I obviously mean “use that money in your emergency fund!”
When I started paying attention to our finances, I found that I’d been paying $7.99 a month on a website that I hadn’t visited in over a year! I hadn’t noticed the charges on my credit card, and I was super lucky that when I contacted the company, they refunded the previous years worth of payments!
This leads me to the next money-saving idea…
7. Do an audit of your credit cards and bank accounts.
It’s so easy to set up a monthly payment and forget all about it. The number of apps, games, and memberships that we undoubtedly pay for and never use is, I’m sure, astronomical.
A quick scan of your statements and accounts could help save you hundreds in the long run!
8. Adjust your retirement and investment contributions.
It’s an easy mistake to make. We were tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and yet we were choosing to put twenty percent of Dan’s salary towards investments. Yes, it came with an employer match, which was AMAZING. But holy, we could NOT afford to be missing so much monthly income when we were drowning in debt and spending hundreds of dollars each month in interest.
For as long as it took us to build our mini-emergency fund and pay off all of our debts, we stopped all retirement contributions. It was scary because we know we need that money someday! And it sucked to lose out on the awesome match Dan’s company offers. But it also gave us a big chunk of extra money each month that we dedicated to our financial goals.
Not to mention the fire it lit in us to get through those first few steps and start contributing again!
There’s no sense in saving for a retirement that you’re going to be too broke to ever get to enjoy! Make sure you are financially secure before you turn contributions back on.
9. Choose ONE thing to cut.
Getting rid of all your favourite things at one time is like going cold turkey on any habit. You are bound to feel deprived and discouraged, making you way more likely to revert back to old habits.
If this sounds like you, pick just ONE THING to change.
- Skip your morning coffee run.
- Brown bag your lunch, rather than heading out to grab a sandwich every day.
- Cancel your cable.
Maybe you are excited to take charge of your money and want to do ALL of these things. YES! Go for it! I love that kind of intensity!
But if you are feeling hesitant, or resisting changing your lifestyle in order to improve your finances, then start small.
Just change ONE thing.
10. Try to reduce your insurance and other contracts.
The worst thing that can happen is that you will pay the same amount as you pay today. But by calling your insurance provider, your cell phone or cable company, or whoever you get your utilities from, you could snag yourself a discounted rate that may save you quite a bit of money. Money that you can then turn around and put in your emergency fund!
11. Use your tax refund.
Sure, this is only helpful once a year, but it can be a great way to take a chunk out of your financial goals. Use it for your emergency fund or to pay off your debts.
I’m already excited for next spring!
12. Pay with cash and bank the change.
A common tip to getting on top of your finances is to pay for everything with cash. Breaking the habit of paying with plastic can be tough, and using cash supports that transition in so many great ways. We’ll get deep into the magic of cash in a future post, but for now, this tip will help you make that cash go farther!
When you are rocking those cash envelopes, a tip for building your emergency fund is to take the change you get, toss it in a jar, and let your fund build up that way. Eventually, you will have enough coins to put into rolls and take to the bank, and sooner or later it will total to a thousand!
If nothing else, it might stop you from breaking a twenty dollar bill to pay for a three dollar coffee!
13. Spread the word.
It might seem a bit silly, as it doesn’t bring in or save money directly, but by letting your family and friends know that you are on a new financial path, it allows them to be supportive.
Easing expectations for lavish dinners, family holidays, or weekly pub nights allows you to stick to your plan without seeming rude.
And you never know, maybe they’ll jump on the financial express with you!
14. Ask yourself: Need or want?
Something you have to have to survive is not the same as something you would enjoy or that would make life easier. There is a particular pair of sneakers I have been coveting for a year. I keep asking myself, “Do I need another pair of white sneakers, no matter how cute they are?” And sadly, the answer is always “Nope!”
I could absolutely save the money and build them into our budget. They aren’t EXPENSIVE sneakers. But, our big-boy emergency fund is our priority, so I haven’t bothered. And to be honest, I think I might be over them!
In the end, it comes down to your priorities. Align your actions with your goals, and you’ll have that emergency fund saved in no time!
15. Rock your budget.
I cannot stress this last one enough: your budget is your greatest tool for building your emergency fund. And for getting out of debt. And for building wealth! (All the things!)
If you haven’t already started assigning every single dollar a job in the month, start now! Right now! This is life-changing, and I promise it’s not hard!
Once we had our budget figured out (it takes about three months to really get the hang of it), we literally felt like we had gotten a raise. We went from barely scraping by, counting the minutes until payday, to having EXTRA money in the month. Sounds crazy, but I swear it’s true!
Once you have control of your money, you can make it work FOR you! Here is our guide to setting up a life-changing budget – honestly, if you do ONE thing for your finances this year, this is it!
Alright – I just gave you 15 ways to build an emergency fund quick quick QUICK! Are you ready? Are you fired up to get started and have that protection between you and your MasterCard? I sure hope so!
Here’s your challenge – I want you to ACTUALLY do it!
Start today, and make a promise to yourself that you are going to focus your energy in finding one thousand extra dollars. I believe in you, and I believe you can do it FAST.
Grab a piece of paper, write today’s date, and write down your promise. And then when you get that thousand bucks, let me know how long it took you. Join our Facebook Community today to share how you saved a thousand dollars. Digital high-fives coming your way!
Grab our $1000 tracker freebie HERE to keep track of your progress!
(And even if you are DONE your emergency fund, challenge yourself to find a thousand dollars anyway!)
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