Build It Up

Seven easy moves for building your emergency fund

You likely already know that your emergency fund should be stocked with anywhere between three to six months worth of pay. Marking the goal is the easy part. Getting your savings up to par, well, that’s considerably tougher. Here are some budgeting hacks that will help you succeed.

  • Make it small. When your take home pay isn’t much, it’s hard to envision taking some away to stash in an account that you (hopefully) never even use. Yet consider this: If you save just $30 a week, you’d have $1,560 to put toward your emergency fund at the end of the year. Think small to get big results.
  • Stir-fry it up. According to USA Today, the average cost of dining out is about $12. Meanwhile, the average cost of eating a meal at home is a measly $2. Cutting back on eating out is one of the easiest ways to save cash.
  • Stash the refund. As tempting as it might be to spend that tax refund, that nice lump payment could go a long way toward building your emergency fund.
  • Automate it. If you’re able, set up your direct deposit so a small chunk of your pay automatically gets dumped into your savings account. What you don’t see in your checking account, you won’t miss.
  • Cut subscriptions. Go over your budget and see what monthly subscriptions you have. Do you actually use them? If you haven’t read your monthly Vogue in six months, it’s time to cut it off and save that money. And it’s not just magazines: Online wifi, credit services (you can check your score free with and others help save significantly.
  • Change your travel. If you can bike to most places or take mass transportation easily, consider selling your car. Rentals for weekend travel are often quite cheap outside of major cities like New York, and taking the bus or train to work would save you plenty. Or, if you can’t, how about a carpool so that you can drive less often?
  • Add a side gig. Some people like a side hustle. In fact, CNN reports that about 44 million Americans currently have some type of work outside of their 9-to-5. If you can do something on the side to bring in extra cash, it’ll make a big difference in your emergency savings.
  • Chris O'Shea

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