Right out the door I want to tell you do not feel bad about yourself if you do not have an emergency fund. You would be surprised at how many people don’t have emergency funds, you are definitely not the only one!
The good news is you can start saving TODAY! When I started an emergency fund, I was so bogged down by misinformation and different approaches that I delayed starting at all.
That’s why I wanted to write this post for you guys, so you don’t have to ever feel hopeless or overwhelmed about your financial future.
Starting an emergency fund doesn’t have to be complicated, you can start an emergency fund in five easy steps! So what are you waiting for, let’s get your emergency fund started!
What is an emergency fund and why do I need one?
If you already know all this, feel free to skip ahead! An emergency fund is saved money that is separate from your regular accounts and for emergencies only.
Emergencies are any unforeseen costs that you did not count on and are ESSENTIAL to you or your family members (or pets) well being, health, or safety. For example your car broke down, you got laid off and need rent money, your fridge broke, etc.
Emergency expenses are anything you wish you did not have to spend money on, they are not fun purchases by any means.
Most people will cite the reason you need an emergency fund is to be able to pay unforeseen expenses (like the ones we just talked about), but I beg to differ. While that is the function of an emergency fund, the biggest reason you need one is so you can have peace of mind and breathe easier.
If you live pay check to pay check without an emergency fund, you are going to be on pins and needles thinking about all that what if’s and nightmare scenarios. The best thing you can do to ease your anxiety is start saving! You can start an emergency fund in 5 easy steps!
Step 1: Establish how much money to save
According to financial guru Suze Orman, “Your long-term goal is to have eight months of living expenses set aside in your emergency fund.”
Don’t let eight months scare you, remember she says long term goal. You aren’t going have an eight month emergency fund overnight. This amount might even take you years to save, but that’s okay, just think of it as your end game.
For now, just focus on $1000 or if that is too much focus on $500. Focus on a smaller number rather than overwhelming yourself with the final amount you need to save. Just remember the most important thing is you are saving money!
Once you get to $1000, start saving another $1000, and so on. I think you might surprise yourself at how much you will be able to sock away.
Step 2: Cut expenses and make money to put into your emergency fund
The easiest way to have money to put into your emergency fund would be to cut out any unnecessary spending. Maybe you have some extra expenses you can do without.
Do you get charged every month for an unused gym membership? Can you maybe skip that extra meal out and opt to brown bag it at work? These little expenses can add up and if you think you can live without something and not miss it, you probably can!
If cutting your spending isn’t enough, financial guru David Ramsey has a few options for you guys:
- Sell items you don’t use anymore such as old clothes, exercise equipment, jewelry, etc.
- Find some one time money making opportunities such as taking surveys or being a pet sitter
- Work a second job (if that is an option)
You can read his full post here.
For more ideas on different ways to make money to add to your emergency fund, you should read 99 Side Hustles You Can Start Today from Side Hustle Nation. This post is packed full of creative side hustles to earn some extra cash to add to your emergency fund.
Step 3: Go to the bank and open a separate account for your emergency fund savings
Make sure you are putting your saved money in either a checking or savings account. It is very important to have instant access to your money.
I have read conflicting things on whether you should put your money in a savings or checking account. I say do what works better for you and whatever costs you the least amount of money. If your bank charges you for a separate checking account but not savings, opt for the savings account.
Just make sure this money is COMPLETELY separate from your regular funds and you can access it immediately.
Step 4: Check out these FREE printables listed below to help track your saving progress!
You guys are going to find seeing your saving progress is really motivating!
Start saving and get organized with the emergency fund tracker printable below. There is an area to track your deposits, take notes, and a progress thermometer to measure your success.
The saving challenge printables will help you out as well. These are great because you don’t have to worry about figuring out an amount to save per week. Pick one of these printables that works for you and run with it! You got this!!!
Step 5: Breathe a big sigh of relief & pat yourself on the back for starting an emergency fund!!
You are going feel so good once you build up your emergency fund and truly the hardest part is starting. Start today, even if it is figuring out how much money to save or filling out a free printable.
Let me know if you need any help or have questions about emergency funds, just comment below!
About the Author
Annie Brown is a frugal living expert and the founder of Savvy Honey.
Her expert advice has also been featured in Yahoo Finance, BuzzFeed, GOBankingRates, Woman's Day, MSN, The Spruce Crafts, and more.