There’s a lot of reasons to have extra cash set aside for “just in case” situations. Having an emergency fund gives you peace of mind if something unexpected were to happen. It gives you the ability to pay for setbacks without taking on debt, which inevitably, turn into more stress. It gives you the freedom to make the right decisions and focus on what’s important vs worrying about money.
In my household, we have two different emergency funds: short-term and long-term.
The short-term emergency fund usually has a lower balance and is used for unexpected large expenses—for example if one of our cars needed a repair or if we needed to pay the fee for an emergency room visit.
The long-term emergency fund has at least 3 to 6 months of living expenses and would only be used in case of a legit emergency. It’s hard for me to imagine what would be considered a big enough emergency to use this, but it would have to be pretty bad.
Set a savings balance goal
In order to start ramping up your emergency savings account, you have to think about how much of a buffer would make you feel comfortable. Dave Ramsey recommends a starter emergency fund of $1,000 if you’re in debt and 3 to 6 months of living expenses saved if you are debt free. This basically means if you still have some debt to pay off, worry less about your emergency fund and more on paying off those debts. The idea here is that the less you have going out in debt payments, the easier it is to save for your future.
I think these recommendations are a great place to start. Once you gain some traction it’s up to you and your risk tolerance to determine what’s an appropriate balance goal.
Jumpstart your savings
If your anything like me, you like to accomplish things fast. There is nothing more rewarding than knocking out your goal in record time! Here are a few of my tips for jumpstarting your emergency fund savings so you can save even faster.
- Sell things: The easiest way to gain traction fast is to sell something. When I was in debt and building my emergency fund I used Craigslist all the time to sell designer purses, furniture, gadgets and other items that I no longer valued.
- Cut expenses: Depending on your lifestyle, lowering your living costs can play a big role in your savings rate. Are there luxury items or services you are paying for that are not needed? These things don’t need to go away forever, but cutting these out for the short term will help you hit your goals faster.
- Automate: Set up your saving deposits to happen automatically. Say your goal is to save the starter $1,000. Set up biweekly payments of $100 and you’ll have your hit your goal in 5 months.
- Get to work: Increasing your income is a harder approach but also very helpful. Not all of us are into having a part-time job after working all day, and I don’t blame you one bit. Pick up some odd jobs or ask around for people needing short-term help.
- Celebrate milestones: Like any goal you’re working towards, monitor your progress and celebrate the small victories. Sometimes it’s the little things that propel you forward and keep you motivated to keep going.
What are your savings tips? Comment below =)
“Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” – Warren Buffett
Thanks for reading,