Rainy days can be peaceful and relaxing — unless, of course, the roof starts leaking and you suddenly have an unexpected expense and no funds for repairs. Emergency funds are used to cover expenses for all kinds of unforeseen situations, from medical bills to housing repairs. Without any savings, both individuals and families can get a real shock when problems arise. Emergency funds should amount to at least $500 to $1,000 kept in a savings account you do not touch unless you have a real emergency. It’s smart to save on a daily basis — in ways that don’t stress your budget — so you are always prepared for that inevitable emergency in the future.
Keep the Change
Remember that piggy bank you had when you were a child? The concept can work as an adult too! Find a jar for your loose change and add to it every day. If you have a few loose dollar bills, add those as well. If you don’t have it in your pocket, you are less likely to spend it. Each week, empty the jar and transfer that money immediately into your savings account so you won’t be tempted to spend it.
Let Money Work for You
The best way to save money is to do so automatically. If you don’t see the money, you are less likely to spend it. If you set up a savings account at the same bank where you have a checking account, they can set up a program to move a fixed amount from your checking to your savings on a regular basis. Start small and try to increase that amount over time. You probably won’t miss that $5 or $10 a week, but you will love seeing your savings grow.
Coffee at Home
Coffee at fancy cafes is a lovely treat, but at $5 a cup, that’s $25 to $35 a week on a drink you can make at home at a fraction of the cost. Buy high-quality beans for $10 a bag and brew it yourself for some big savings. You still enjoy your caffeine fix, but you save $100 or more a month. By making small changes like this, you can immediately see your emergency fund — and your financial health — grow.
Consider a Part-Time Job
You may already be working more than you think is possible, but if you ever find yourself bored and sitting in front of the television, you may have more spare time than you think. An easy part-time job could be an extension of a hobby you love, like working in a craft or hardware store. For just a few hours a week, you can take that paycheck and deposit it directly into your savings account. Teens can contribute as well by working odd jobs around the neighborhood and contributing a percentage to the family household. This teaches them a solid work ethic and makes financial planning a fun family project.
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