40 Ideas to Help You Start Your Emergency Fund
The first step in creating a debt payoff plan is saving for an emergency fund. Ideally, an emergency fund would consist of $1000, but if that just seems entirely too far-fetched, it's okay to aim for something a bit more manageable such as $500 or $750. I wouldn't recommend anything less than $500 since most emergencies that would have the potential for derailing your debt payoff plan will likely be in the $500 range.
The point of the emergency fund is just that - it's for emergencies. What constitutes an emergency? A broken furnace would be an emergency. I blown tire would be an emergency. A child wanting the newest pair of sneakers would not be an emergency. Unfortunately, feeling too tired to make dinner would not be an emergency either. I know. Sad face.
That's a lot of money, my friend. How does one come up with that kind of money before paying off their debt? I know it can be intimidating, but don't fret. Here's a list of things to try to create your emergency fund.
Pinch your pennies and save your dollars
1. Cut those expensive morning lattes: A little bit of daily savings can add up quickly and give you a nice cushion for an emergency fund.
2. Get creative with leftovers: Instead of throwing out food, repurpose it into something new or freeze it to save money on groceries in the future.
3. Ease off on the entertainment: Cutting back on going out, ordering takeout, and streaming services can save a significant amount of money each month.
4. Use cash: Withdraw a set amount of cash each week for discretionary spending and use it as your "spending envelope." Once it's gone, you'll have to wait until next week to spend.
5. Choose generic brands: Buying generic brands helps you save on groceries and other household items that you need to buy frequently.
6. Cut and color your own hair: If you're hesitant about trying to cut your own hair, start with a trim and work up from there. You can save a ton over the course of a year by taking care of your mane yourself.
7. Purchase household goods off of Facebook Marketplace instead of buying them new.
8. Better yet, get stuff for free: You can find plenty online or in your local area. Try Freecycle, Craigslist, or your local community centers for free furniture, toys, clothes, and more.
9. Become an expert haggler: Negotiate lower prices at stores or ask your service providers for a discount. Who knows, you might just get it!
10. Try couponing: Coupons can be found everywhere, from newspapers and magazines to websites. Take the time to find them and save big on items you already buy.
11. Shop around for insurance: Don't stick with the same insurance provider just because you have been with them for years. Shop around and you could find a better deal elsewhere.
12. Sell your stuff: Have clothes, furniture, or books that you don't need anymore? Turn them into cash by posting them online or having a yard sale.
13. Use public transportation: If you live in a city, take the bus or train instead of driving. Not only will it save you money on gas, it's also better for the environment.
14. Ditch the gym membership: Get creative with exercising, try running in the park or do online workout videos for free.
15. Make your own cleaning supplies: Regular household items like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can do the trick for many cleaning tasks, saving you money on expensive cleaning products.
16. Use public libraries: From books and magazines to movies and music, the library is a great resource for saving money without sacrificing enjoyment.
17. Get creative with entertainment: Instead of going out to a movie or concert, have a game night at home or take a nature walk.
18. If you're currently a two-vehicle household and there's any way to make it work with one - sell one vehicle and use that money for your emergency fund and put anything left over towards your debt.
19. Take your lunch to work with you every day instead of ordering in with your coworkers.
20. Sacrifice unnecessary junk food on that grocery shopping trip - ditch the soda and the sweets.
Start A Side Hustle
1. Offer babysitting services on the weekends.
2. Become a mystery shopper - you can get paid to shop and eat at restaurants, all while giving feedback about your experience.
3. Sell crafts online or at local markets - use those crafting skills to make something special and unique, then sell it to make some extra cash.
4. Pet-sit or dog-walk - if you love animals, why not offer your services to help out pet owners when they're away?
5. Tutor students - there are many students who need help with their studies and would benefit from a knowledgeable tutor like yourself.
6. Become a virtual assistant - help businesses with tasks like data entry, bookkeeping, research, or customer service.
7. Participate in focus groups - Companies are always looking for people to join their focus groups and give feedback on their products or services.
8. Rent out your space - if you happen to have an extra room or two, why not rent it out to someone who needs a place to stay?
9. Deliver food - Get paid while getting some exercise by delivering food for companies like Postmates or DoorDash.
10. Become a driver - With ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, you can make money by driving people around town.
11. Test websites or apps - Companies are always looking for people to test out their websites or apps, and you can get paid for it!
12. Pick up extra shifts for your current employer.
13. Pick up a part-time waitressing or bartending gig - the cash tips are always nice!
14. Start a blog!!!
15. Donate Plasma - some places offer as much as $900/month for your donations. If needles don't give you the heeby-jeebys, this might be worth a shot.
16. Start a photography business. Do you love photography? Are you getting good with posing and lighting? Offer your services to friends and family and make a little money doing something you love.
17. Start a freelance business - do you have a passion for writing or photo editing or anything else that you could potentially turn into a business? Put some stuff out on Fiverr or set up a website and start making that money!!!
18. Do someone else's grocery shopping - try Shipt or Instacart.
19. Pick up a part-time job driving for Amazon or Fed-Ex or UPS.
20. Offer odd jobs - organizing, cleaning, yard work, etc.
There you have it. Forty ideas to help get your emergency fund started. Getting that emergency fund up and running is a priority. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that progress can be made in small steps. Set a goal, create a budget, and stick to it -- action will always be better than procrastination.
Take advantage of the ideas outlined above to help strengthen your financial safety net and prevent future panic when life throws you something unexpected. Little by little you’ll add up the money with patience and dedication until you have enough for that emergency fund! Be prepared for anything and get on board with our work towards a healthier financial future -- Get that Emergency Fund Fully Funded!
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