If you found yourself facing an emergency today, would you have the financial means to resolve it? If you said no, you are not alone: over 20 percent of Americans do not have a savings or slush fund and do not put away any savings on a regular basis. If you want to build an emergency savings account, there are a few strategies you can use to find extra money within your existing income.
Become an Online Merchant
Selling gently used clothing, toys, electronics, and home goods can generate cash for you with a minimal amount of effort. There are several phone apps that are designed to help you sell everything from fashion jewelry and purses to used cars, or you can start your own website and list items there. Some popular selling trends currently include vinyl records, vintage clothing, and pop culture goods. It is wise to space out what you sell so you can give each transaction your full attention.
Revise Your Household Budget
You can probably find a few extra dollars to stash away within your monthly budget if you take the time to revise it. Sit down with your bills and look for opportunities to cut back in certain areas. For example, if you spend $50 or more a month on fuel, check your local public transit offices to find a bus route to work and put aside the savings. Consider switching to energy-efficient lighting and installing solar panels to save on your electricity bill.
Cut Back on Leisure Outings
Coffee runs, evenings at the local sports bar, and lunches out with coworkers can drain your savings account quickly. While you do not have to cut these activities out completely, more careful monitoring of how often you participate can help prevent a budget crisis. If you go out with your work friends for lunch, suggest staying in a few times a week and arrange a recipe trade where each person brings in a lunch dish to sample.
You can also save a few dollars by making coffee at home and investing in a rugged travel mug or thermos for transport. If you want to cut back on spending for drinks and snacking, invite the gang over to your house to watch the game instead of shelling out money for bar appetizers.
Set Realistic Savings Goals
Changing your spending habits can be difficult, but one way to begin is to set realistic goals. Start out with a goal of $20-$25 a month. If you find that amount daunting, scale it back, especially during months where the money is especially tight. Setting realistic goals can prevent feelings of failure when you cannot reach your savings goal and help you maintain a positive outlook for the month ahead.
Use Your Tax Refund as a Solid Savings Foundation
Some banks allow you to open a savings fund with as little as $20. However, starting off with a larger amount can help you establish a more robust account and might even encourage you to add more on a consistent basis. If you are receiving a large amount back from the government, consider putting aside at least one-third of it to bolster your fledgling savings fund.
Bundle Your Home Entertainment
Bundling services like your home phone, internet, and television can lower your overall home entertainment bill. If you already use one or more of these services, call your local provider and inquire about packages that may shave $10 or more off your monthly bill. Check out DISH deals to bundle your favorite channels and save on special viewing events.
Building an emergency fund can be difficult, especially with the rising cost of fuel, food, and rent. However, with a fit of patience and self-discipline, you can find savings around every corner and protect yourself and your family from unexpected financial emergencies.