If you want to know how to build an emergency fund quickly, then you need some solid personal finance tips to get you there. From saving money to making money, these ideas will help you build a starter emergency fund or fully funded emergency fund as quickly as possible!
This post may contain affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.
What would you do if you suddenly found yourself staring at an unexpected bill for $700? Maybe your car broke down, your air conditioner quit, your roof leaked, your bathroom floor caved in, or you had a medical emergency. What would you do?
Would you panic and worry about how on earth you’re going to pay it? Or would you take it in stride knowing that you’ll still be able to pay your mortgage and other living expenses?
If you’d rather experience the latter scenario, then you’re in the right place! Because here’s the thing. Emergencies don’t have to keep you awake at night. You can turn a crisis into an inconvenience with the help of an emergency fund.
We all know that having an emergency fund is a good idea, but the real question is how to build an emergency fund as quickly as possible.
Let me offer a few suggestions.
First things first: Determine Your Goal Amount
Before we get to the good stuff, you first need to determine how much you want to have in your emergency fund. Dave Ramsey recommends having $1,000 as a beginner emergency fund in a savings account. $1,000 can cover a variety of emergencies, so that may be a good starting place for you.
Sidenote: I learned all kinds of financial wisdom from Dave Ramsey! I highly recommend his book The Total Money Makeover if you want to achieve financial freedom too.
Once you reach that goal, you may want to work on building a fully funded emergency fund. A healthy emergency fund usually has between three and six months’ worth of expenses in it. Depending on your situation, you may need more or less than that to feel secure.
Personally, we like to have about four months’ worth of living expenses in our emergency fund. Since that’s significantly more than $1,000, we keep our emergency fund in a money market account rather than a savings account. Our money market account earns a higher interest rate than our savings account, but the money is still easily accessible if we need it.
How to Build an Emergency Fund Quickly
Once you know how much money you need in your emergency fund, it’s time to start saving! Here are some ways to build your emergency fund quickly.
Put your savings on autopilot
Your financial institution probably has an automation feature where you can transfer a certain amount of money from your checking account to your savings account at regular intervals. Ideally, you’d want the money to transfer each time you receive your paycheck so you never have a chance to spend it.
To put your savings on autopilot, first determine how much money you want to transfer and how often. Maybe you’ll transfer $50 per paycheck or $150 per month. Once you decide how much and how often, you can set up automatic transfers with your financial institution.
Make some extra money
An easy way to make some extra money is by selling things you already have on sites such as eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist. You can also have an old-fashioned yard sale if you don’t want to sell online. Look around your house and see if you can find some things to sell. Even if you don’t have any big-ticket items, selling a handful of smaller items can really add up.
We were able to make a quick $600 by selling Josh’s home gym on Craigslist. I’ve also sold college textbooks on Amazon before, sometimes for more than I actually paid for them!
You can also make some extra money by picking up a part-time job. If you don’t want to deliver pizzas, you can watch kids, pet sit, clean houses, do yard work, etc. If you’re crafty, you can make and sell items on Etsy or at local craft shows.
Save the money you already make
If you really analyze your spending habits, I’ll bet you’d be surprised by the amount of money you can squeeze out of your current income just by eliminating unnecessary spending.
Here are some ideas for saving the money you already earn:
1. Make a bare-bones budget and stick to it.
A bare-bones budget includes only the things you need to survive, so you would exclude unnecessary categories such as entertainment, vacations, clothing, restaurants, etc. See How to Create a Budget When You Have No Idea Where to Start if you need help making a budget.
2. Have a no-spend month.
This article explains in depth how to have a successful no-spend month, and this post explains our experience with our very first no-spend month.
If you need help planning a successful no-spend month, I created a no-spend month planner to make the process easier. You can get a limited-time discount on The No-Spend Month Planner here!
3. Stop eating out.
Restaurants cost way more per meal than cooking at home, so you could save a ton of money just by cooking your meals at home.
4. Shop for groceries at discount grocery stores such as Aldi or Lidl.
Shopping at Aldi is an excellent way to get more bang for your buck.
5. Make a meal plan and then stick to your grocery shopping list.
Having a meal plan and corresponding grocery list saves money because you know exactly what you need to buy at the grocery store for this week’s meals. You won’t end up with a bunch of food you don’t really need, and you’re less likely to waste food.
See Meal Planning Made Simple (plus a free printable!) for an easy way to make a meal plan.
6. Curb impulse buys.
Impulse purchases really add up, so if you don’t need it or you didn’t plan on buying it before you entered the store, put it back.
7. Stop using a debit or credit card and switch to cash.
You’re far more likely to overspend when you use plastic. Plus, using cash forces you to think through every purchase you make. This article, How to Use the Cash Envelope System (and why you should!), is a great place to start if you’re new to the cash envelope system.
8. Find ways to reduce your monthly expenses.
This post will help you find ways to do that:
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it! Now you know how to build an emergency fund quickly. Once you determine how much you need to save, it’s just a matter of finding ways to reach your goal. Some good ways to do that include:
- Putting your savings on autopilot by setting up an automatic transfer at your financial institution.
- Making extra money by selling things around your house or by picking up a part-time job.
- Saving the money you already make by analyzing your spending habits and cutting out unnecessary spending.
Building an emergency fund may feel like an impossible task, but it’s really just a matter of determination. I’ve learned that if you truly want something, you’ll find a way to make it happen. If you don’t, then you’ll just make excuses. In my experience, building an emergency fund is no different.
If you’re serious about building an emergency fund, then it’s time to get to work! Start implementing some of the ideas you learned here, but don’t stop there. Constantly search for new ways to make extra money or new ways to save the money you already make. Once you make it a habit, you’ll see your emergency fund grow bigger and bigger without you even having to think about it.
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- How to Spend Less Money When Your Spending is Out of Control
- How to Save Money without Feeling Deprived
- 6 Tips to Score Big at Thrift Stores
- Want to Take Charge of Your Finances? Dave Ramsey Can Help
- 9 Personal Finance Resources You Need in Your Life
- How to Prepare for a Successful No-Spend Month
What about you? What are your best tips for building an emergency fund?
Also, if you found this post helpful, feel free to share it or pin it for later!