Inside: Build an emergency fund fast with these seven ideas.
You are living your life, doing the things you do, and then, boom! The car breaks down, or the water heater is leaking, or your child broke her arm. Suddenly, you are in panic mode trying to come up with the money to cover the bills.
Has something like that ever happened to you? If not, it’s really not a matter of if, but when, those unexpected expenses will hit. One of the first steps in gaining (or regaining) control over your finances is to build an emergency fund to at least $1000.
How do you get to that first $1000? Or, if you had it, but an emergency ate up those savings, how can you build it back up to avoid getting into debt? Believe it or not, there are many ways to build an emergency fund quickly.
Ideas to build an emergency fund quickly
1. Set up payroll deduction
If you tend to blow through your money and not know where it all goes, then automating your savings is definitely right for you. Open a separate savings account just for emergency savings. Then, go visit your payroll department and set up an automatic deposit to that account. If you save $200/month, you would have $1000 in just 5 months. But even if you can only swing $50/month, it is a good start.
2. Check your withholding
Did you get a large tax refund this last year (and most years)? If so, then check the amount of money you are having withheld from your paycheck. It is probably worth going through the W-4 worksheet to ensure your withholding is correct. If you need less withheld, put the extra money that will now appear in your paycheck directly into your emergency savings account.
If you have just recently filed taxes and are expecting that refund soon, use that money to build an emergency fund quickly.
3. Clean house
Let’s face it. Most of us have a ton of
crap stuff at home and most of it we don’t need. If that is the case, free up some space and get some cash in the process by clearing out unneeded items.
You can sell your items in one go at a yard sale or, for more expensive items, list them on Craigslist or eBay.
4. Redeem rewards
If you have a credit card with cash back rewards, you can cash those out and have the money deposited to your emergency savings account. Do the same with all the rebate apps you use as well. Maybe you have money waiting for you from Rakuten (formerly Ebates), Ibotta, or even Swagbucks.
5. Do odd jobs
A good way to build an emergency fund fast is by doing extra work. There are a lot of odd jobs (gigs) listed on Craigslist or even neighborhood groups. You could mow a few lawns, clean out gutters, walk dogs, set up and take down for parties, and tons more.
If those don’t sound appealing, a lot of companies need one-off projects done. Check out listings for companies needing a bit of code written, a makeup artist for a project, help taking team photos, or some people just want a bit of help putting together some spreadsheets.
6. Cut food spending
Another option for growing your fund is to eat meals out less often. If you normally dine out once a week, try changing it to once a month until your fund is built up. The money you would normally spend on those dinners out, deposit it into your account.
You can also look at reducing your grocery bill by meal planning and putting the money saved on groceries into your fund.
7. Ditch the cable
Cutting back on unnecessary expenses is another easy win for finding money. One bill that is easy to cut back on is the cable bill. Look into dropping cable and you could easily save over $100/month.
Building an emergency fund may seem impossible, but little bits of money here and there add up quickly. The extra breathing room the emergency fund will give your finances will be a relief.