How fat is your piggy?
Emergencies wouldn't be as difficult to manage with enough money set aside to cover them. You can't predict when your vehicle might break down, a tree falls on your house, or someone in the family loses a job. The financial demand of emergencies is immediate, so you need immediate access to the necessary money to stay afloat.
In better economic times, the equivalent of three months expenses in an emergency fund was sufficient. With jobs and money harder to come by, many financial experts think six months of expense money or more is a safer amount. The problem is saving it.
Most people can't accumulate three or six month's expenses in a short amount of time. The idea is almost impossible. But that shouldn't stop you from opening an account and getting started. Here are a few ways to give your emergency savings account the boost it needs. From there, you can add at a more comfortable pace.
Adjust Your Income Withholdings at Work
Want to save money without missing it at all? Change the withholdings on your W-4 form at work, and Daily Finance suggests putting the excess that comes on your paycheck into savings. This only works if you usually get a tax refund at the end of the year, and it would reduce or eliminate that refund. But it makes more financial sense to use your own money to earn interest instead of letting the government hold it all year.
Nickels and Dimes Become Ones and Fives
If you normally carry some cash, make a habit of dropping all of your coin change into a jar at the end of the day. This is an almost painless way to collect otherwise overlooked money. It won't add up fast, but it will add up. Once the jar is full, add it to your emergency fund. Money Crashers suggests that if you can handle it, drop in a few dollar bills from time to time, to help the jar's contents grow faster.
Commit to Packing Lunch and Eating at Home, Except on Special Occasions
Dining out costs dearly, especially when it's a common thing. But smaller, frequent meals might add up to more than dinners in a restaurant. One $30 meal saved each month puts $360 into your emergency fund by the end of the year. But a cheap fast food breakfast meal of $4 a day, only on workdays, adds up to $960 by year's end. Oatmeal at home is likely better for you, and for your budget.
Spend smart and sell smart.
Clean House and Add to Savings with a Garage Sale
Most people have more belongings than they need, and a lot of it is rarely used or even thought about. If you don't think you have enough stuff to merit a sale, take inventory in every room and the garage. Clothing and shoes that haven't been worn in over a year probably won't be again, so they can go in a sale.
Electronics, even broken or old ones, can sell, if only for parts. Glassware, trendy appliances or gadgets that you never use, and even partly used cans of interior or exterior paint are all candidates. Once the sale is over, you'll have a little something for emergency savings. You'll also have a tidier home.
Try to Eliminate Discretionary Spending for 30 Days
This is a tough one, but it can bring a serious chunk of change. For 30 days, try to avoid spending one single penny that isn't absolutely necessary. No drive-through coffee on the way to work, no movies, no eating out, and no excess driving which uses more fuel than you need for daily life.
Discretionary spending, which is everything that isn't mandatory, accounts for a significant part of many family budgets. Daily Finance says to think of it as a financial diet. If you can cut carbs or calories for 30 days, you can do almost anything else.
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