We are HUGE believers in having an emergency fund. An emergency fund is essential to “surviving the stores”. What do you do if you get a flat tire and need a new one, have an unexpected trip to the emergency room, or your roof starts leaking?
Do you go into debt (or into more debt) to pay for it?
Dave Ramsey, a highly respected financial adviser, recommends having AT LEAST a $1,000 emergency fund to cover these unexpected expenses.
Building up this emergency fund has been a priority for us, and we have been very thankful to not have to go into debt for several expenses that have come up over the past year.
Do you want to start your emergency fund? It can seem a little overwhelming at first, especially if you’re living right at or above your means. Like we had to do, you will have to deny yourself some things that you would like to have, but I promise… IT IS WORTH IT!
Here are some tips on ways to build up that emergency fund, even if you don’t have much wiggle room in your budget:
1) Don’t eat out. If you normally go out to dinner, or out to lunch once a week, DON’T. Pack your lunch, or eat at home instead and put the money that you would have spent into your savings. Even one $20 dinner out a week (and it’s hard to find a place for a family of 4 to eat for just $20) for 52 weeks can save $1040 a year! You would have your $1,000 emergency fund complete within a year!
2) Cut your bills. Is cable TV really worth it? Could you watch your favorite shows on the channel’s website or on Hulu?
What about your home phone line? Could you use Magic Jack instead? (By the way, we have been using Magic Jack now for the past six months and we still LOVE it!) Using Magic Jack alone will save $330 a year. That’s a significant amount towards your emergency fund.
3) Sit on it. No, not on your money (it needs to be somewhere where it can earn interest). Sit on your IDEAS! You know, all of those things that you think you want to buy. Unless it truly is an emergency, don’t buy something the day that you get it in your head that you want it! Wait at least a week (if not longer!) Many times the desire for that item will go away by then.
That $100 clothes shopping spree that you are craving could be 10% of your emergency fund! Instead, head to a local thrift store and see how many cute things you can get for under $10 TOTAL!
4) Flee temptation. Really… FLEE! Get away from it! Are you tempted to spend more when you go to the mall? Don’t go!! Do company catalogs tempt you to buy? Throw them out and unsubscribe! Take the money that you would have spent and put it into your savings account.
5) Barter for services. You know the 50 boxes of cereal, 30 razors, 40 tubes of toothpaste, 20 boxes of granola bars (you get the picture) that you have in your “stock-up” cabinets? All of which you got for FREE?
Other people actually pay full price for this stuff! Yes, there are people that pay $8.99 for a razor and $20 for a pack of cartridges. I used to be one of them!
Use your free goods to barter with the repair man, mechanic, painter, carpet cleaner, babysitter, etc. Then put the money that you would have paid them in your savings account.
Remember, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
There are TONS of ways to save money and there is no way that I could cover them all in one post.
My best advice is to get creative and get addicted to saving!