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How to start an emergency fund – 10 ways to kick start your goals
I hope that you’re enjoying this series of budgeting posts. I know that many people think of budgeting as a chore or a pain, but I believe that budgets can be fun! Stay with me, I promise that you do not have to be an budget enthusiast to get value out of this post. If you’re brand new here, you might want to check out Budgeting 101: how to start a budget for beginners. No matter what you’re doing for your budget, pen and paper, YNAB, etc, having an emergency fund is critical. This post will teach you all about how to start an emergency fund, and give you an idea of how much you should have in it.
Why you need an emergency fund
Having an emergency fund is important because life happens. Medical bills happen, cars break down, pets get sick, and the best way to prepare for life happening is to have an emergency fund. The general consensus is to have 3-6 months of expenses saved. That means if your basic expenses (bills, food, gas, etc.) are $2,000 per month, you need to save between $6,000-$12,000 and so on. Dave Ramsey says to have $1000 as a starter emergency fund if you’re currently paying off debt. The exact amount of your emergency fund will vary depending on your circumstances, income and other factors. No matter what your situation, you need an emergency fund.
If your income fluctuates (working in sales, self employment, etc.) I would recommend having a larger emergency fund.
How to start an emergency fund
If you’re emergency fund is currently $0, you need to get started right away. Here are 10 things you can do to start your emergency fund today.
1. Sell things on Craigslist or Facebook market place
If you have a few items to sell but don’t want to have a garage sale or don’t have enough stuff, selling on Facebook market place or Craigslist is a great alternative.
2. Start a side hustle or second job
There are lots of side hustles out there, check out 29 of them over at the Penny Hoarder. If you have a skill (writing, babysitting, crafts) you can probably make money with that skill. It’s great to make money doing something that you enjoy. It may even replace a regular job someday, you never know.
3. Take surveys online
Taking surveys won’t get your rich quick, but you can earn a couple hundred dollars a month that can be put directly into an emergency fund. My favorites are SurveyJunkie (immediate payout) and Swagbucks.
4. Have a garage sale
If you have a lot of stuff to get rid of, just have a garage sale! You could even ask some friends to join you, multi-family garage sales tend to do really well. You can simplify the clutter in your home, and earn some extra cash. That’s a win-win!
5. Find items to flip for a profit
There are several ways to do this. You can sell items on Amazon or eBay, or even open up your own online re-sale shop. If you’re a savvy shopper and great at finding bargains, you can earn money very quickly.
6. Start a blog
Earning money from a blog does take time, but it’s possible! It doesn’t take much to start a blog, and it can be a fun hobby and make a little side cash to build your emergency fund. How to start a WordPress blog will teach you how to do it from the start.
7. Start or re-evaluate your budget
If you haven’t started a budget, start one now. If you have, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your budget and see if there is anything that can be put on hold while you fund your emergency fund. Things like dining out, spending money can be cut back or put on hold while your build your emergency fund.
8. Try a no-spend week or month
Okay, this one might be a little more extreme, but a no-spend week or month will certainly build your emergency fund-fast! I personally haven’t done this, but Nicole over at the Frugal Cottage has. Check out her post about a no-spend month to find out more.
9. Test websites
I love testing websites with UserTesting when I need to earn a little bit of extra cash, quickly. UserTesting pays $10 for regular tests and $3 for shorter ones. If you’re around your computer, you could probably grab a few of them in a day.
10. Become a mystery shopper
I saved this one for last, and it’s actually one of the most fun! Did you know that you can earn money while shopping? Okay, let’s not get carried away here. You shop for specific things, depending on the assignment. You definitely don’t want to go out and shop for extra stuff, that would defeat the purpose. I’ve been doing mystery shopping with BestMark for a while now, and I really enjoy it! You can pretend to shop for cars, electronics, and more. You can also get free oil changes and meals, if your assignment calls for that.
Those are just ten ways for how to start an emergency fund.For us, it was fairly simple. We set aside a certain amount every month in YNAB until the emergency fund was fully funded. Using a budget app is a great tool to build an emergency fund. If you’ve built an emergency fund, make sure to comment and let me know how you did it! If you enjoyed this post, make sure to share it with your friends and sign up for my weekly emails for more budgeting tips sent straight to your inbox.
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