Unexpected expenses can be stressful and lead to lots of scrambling for money. Whether it’s needing a new car out of nowhere, losing your job, getting a divorce, or having a major or minor surgery–such as a cardiovascular or heel spur surgery–having a sufficient amount of backup funds can help alleviate some of the burdens. But with so much else to pay for, how can you save enough to be prepared for an unknown event?
The first step one should take when attempting to build an emergency fund is figuring out how much they can contribute to it. Start by breaking down the essential costs each month: bills, insurance, gas, food, utilities, regular savings account, car payments, etc. From there, see how much you roughly spend each month on “extra expenses” that aren’t as necessary. This might include going to the movies, streaming service subscriptions, clothes you want but don’t need, whatever. You can still have fun but set aside an amount each month that you’re allowed to spend on yourself, and put the rest of it away. An emergency fund should typically be able to support three to six months of living costs, so it could take some time to build up enough money to fully cover any possible emergency, but just stick to your budget and you’ll get there eventually.
Eliminate Extra Spending
The more you’re able to deposit into your emergency funds, the quicker it will become a viable shield against any surprise catastrophes. A good way to increase the amount of money going into your account is to cut any unnecessary spending and contribute a portion of it towards the fund. Extra spending could be anything that isn’t an absolute essential, such as that pair of new shoes you thought looked cute or the three new books you bought last month. It could even be something smaller, like consistently buying snacks from the vending machine at work. Try breaking a bad habit like smoking or eating junk food, and put that towards your additional savings. This doesn’t mean shouldn’t ever splurge, but just be aware of how much you’re spending each month and try to only spend predetermined amounts on the little things.
Leave it Alone!
The best way to keep your emergency funds account on an upward trajectory is to stop spending it. Leave it be. This account should be for emergencies only, and if you constantly dip into it time and time again for reasons other than the intended purpose, it will quickly drain to nothing. Then when the time comes and you actually need it, it will either be gone or mostly depleted. Obviously, if your refrigerator breaks down and you need to purchase a new one, that’s acceptable; that’s what it’s there for.
Having an emergency fund is an important cushion for any significant event that might come out of left-field. It can save you if you’re in a tight pinch and need a little bit of extra help with expenses, and even contributing a small amount to it every month can add up to a big difference. Any amount of savings is better than nothing.