This year millions of people are facing a savings shortage. Even if you work in healthcare and have more hours than you can count and feel like you work a lot of overtime, if you fell ill or couldn’t work for some reason, you may find that you no longer have an emergency fund.
While it might feel like you’re starting all over again, there are some simple ways to fund your emergency fund fast.
Starting from scratch with an emergency fund can feel overwhelming. Start by opening a high yield savings account at a different bank. Make it hard to access so you aren’t tempted to use the funds.
Even if you only have a little money to open it with right now, start with something, even $1 and then figure out how you’ll save from there.
Just like you budget for your mortgage and car payment, work savings into your budget. Make it a non-negotiable bill that you pay on payday every time. Think of it as paying your future self. Remember how it got you out of a difficult situation before? It can do it again, but you need the money saved first.
Don’t leave saving to chance, make it automatic. Either ask your employer to split your direct deposit between your checking and savings account or set up automatic transfers with your bank account.
Most banks offer automatic transfers, you just have to set up the frequency and amount and they handle the rest.
For the time being, while you build your emergency fund, consider cutting back on unnecessary expenses. Here are a few ideas of places people cut back:
· Coffee shop drinks (make your own)
· Getting lunch out or at the cafeteria (bring your own)
· Entertainment (find cheaper or free options)
· Shop grocery sales versus just buying what you want and/or use coupons
· Stop impulse buys
If you get a bonus at work or are lucky enough to get a raise, bank it. Instead of spending it before you have it or letting lifestyle creep occur, put the money in your emergency fund. If you can’t fathom putting it all in an account you won’t see, at least bank half and use the other half for other purposes.
It’s not impossible to rebuild an emergency fund after using it, but you must be consistent and diligent in your efforts. Be grateful you had the funds available when you needed them and think of that moving forward as you work to build your emergency fund again.
You won’t build it overnight, but with consistent effort, you can have three to six months of expenses saved for the next emergency. While no one wishes for another pandemic, we should all be prepared for the unknown.