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If you’re anything like me, you have probably laughed at the thought of an emergency savings fund. “Hah!” I would laugh, “I’d LOVE to be so rich I just put money somewhere and never use it.” As if it were a waste of money to prepare for events that might never happen. 

Until those events did start happening. My car broke down, I got sick (and of course did not have health insurance), so many other things started going wrong. 

As Murphy’s Law states, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Do future you a favor, and save some money to pay off ole’ Murphy. You’ll save yourself a ton of stress down the road, I promise. 

But starting an emergency savings fund is so much easier said than done. Trust me, I KNOW the feeling. I’ve been there. When my income allowed me to save an entire $10/paycheck. Wowzers. I often wondered what the point was. And usually spent that $10 at Taco Bell anyway.

A lot of times, when we are living paycheck to paycheck, we are stuck in survival mode. The saying, “I just need to make it to Friday” was very popular with me. When you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to feed yourself today, putting money aside for something that may or may not happen seems frivolous. It’s certainly a privilege. But building an emergency fund should be one of your top priorities. Follow the steps below and you’ll be on your way to a healthy savings account. With actual money in it. Not like a ghost town one with a tumbleweed blowing through it. 

Steps for Starting an Emergency Savings Fund 

 

  • Change Your Mindset

To me, having a healthy savings account was not something that I believed was available to me. I thought it was for rich people who were dealt a different hand in life than I was. That is NOT true at all. Sure, it might be easier for people who earn more money than me to save more, or to reach savings goals faster. But slow progress is progress. The ability to save money is available to me if I put the effort and discipline into making my money work for me. 

I would also get discouraged when I would have to use up the small amount of money I had saved, forgetting that THAT is what it was for! It seemed like every time I finally saved up $50 or $100, I’d have to go to the doctor, cover my roommate’s part of the utilities, or pay for some other unforeseen event. But, The point of having a savings account is to have money for when I need it, no matter how big or small the emergency is. If I hadn’t been able to go to the doctor, or cover the utilities…what would have happened? Instead, I shifted to being grateful that the money was there, and that getting sick or getting my car fixed was a minor inconvenience and not a major catastrophe. 

These small shifts in mindset can keep you motivated to stay on track and continue increasing your savings one step at a time. What beliefs do you have about money that are holding you back?

 

  • Set Goals

 

Your goals for your emergency savings should be specific to you and your needs. Any ole Joe Schmo on the internet can say how much HE thinks everyone should have saved up, but that guy doesn’t know you or your life. So forget him. The goals you set depend upon your current situation and where you’re starting. 

For example: If you don’t have a separate savings account set up yet, then your first goal might be to research and open an online savings account. 

If you have one created, but you don’t put money in it, your first goal might be to transfer $50 to savings throughout the course of a month. 

Then your next goal might be to have $100 in savings, then $500, and so on. 

The best way to get started is to think about what you want this aspect of your life to look like a year from now. Then work backward to get there. If in a year, you want to have $1200 in savings, then that means you need to save $100/month, $50/check, or $25/week. What’s the first step you need to take to get there? 

 

  • Be Intentional

 

Add savings into your budget. It is now an expense. It is not an afterthought. You shouldn’t decide how much you can save AFTER you’ve raided the Target clearance aisles.

Be honest with yourself about your spending and income. If you barely earn enough money to cover your living expenses, you need to start bringing in more income. Easier said than done, obviously– but what can you do to start earning a few extra dollars?

  • Ask for a raise 
  • Pick up a part-time second job
  • Start a side hustle
  • Babysit your friends’ kids or pets
  • Sell stuff you never use
  • Take a class or course to learn more valuable skills

Additionally, review your expenses and see if there is anywhere you can cut back. There are tons of sneaky ways we overspend, like on internet and phone bills, that can save us a few extra dollars each month. Even if it’s $5 or $10, that really adds up over time. 

A Little + A Little + A Little = A LOT!

Setting up an automatic transfer is the best thing I did for my savings account. If moving a lot of money to savings at once feels scary to you, try setting up a small weekly transfer. $25/week is easier to spend than $100/month. 

Regardless of where you are in your financial journey, a funded emergency savings can make all the difference. Having a few hundred or $1,000 to fall back on is HUGE when you are trying to get out of credit card debt and get ahead in life.  With a few shifts of the mindset, some goal setting, and maybe a little bit of hustle, you will be well on your way to having a healthy, happy savings account!