The majority of working Americans today do not have any money set aside for an emergency situation. By creating a buffer between you and those unexpected expenses that pop up will relieve some of the stress that comes with an unexpected emergency.
Here are five tips that can help you set up and maintain an emergency fund.
Create a budget.
Just putting your income and outgo in front of you helps you see where you can make adjustments and free up money for savings. You never know how much extra money is in your budget until you make one.
Have a “savings” line item.
Save money before you pay any bills. Dave Ramsey calls it “paying yourself”. Put a category marked “emergency fund” in your plan with a certain amount to sock away each month. That account will gradually build up and be ready to cover you if your car battery dies or your A/C goes out in the middle of the summer.
Put excess funds in the emergency fund.
Once you’ve filled out your budget and everything is accounted for, you may have some leftover money that can be used elsewhere. Give that money a new home in your savings category!
Trim your expenses.
See where you can tweak your spending to save money. Go with a different cable package (you could save $20 a month), clip grocery coupons (save $20 a week), or sign up to receive restaurant deal emails (save $5–10 per visit). Those alone add up to more than $100 a month.
Track your spending.
Staying on top of your transactions is important because it helps you spot areas where the spending is getting too close to your planned amount. If you see that you’re halfway through the month and 90% of the way through the restaurant money, you’ll know it’s time to trade the appetizer menu for those leftovers in the fridge.