Growing an emergency savings fund that equals at least six months’ worth of living expenses could take years. But maintaining enough funds to cover basic expenses for half a year is what most financial advisors recommend. The money can be a lifeline if you lose your job or face other financial hardships. Fortunately, you can shortcut the time to build a financial cushion if you focus on a few key tactics.
Here are 11 ways to get started today.
- Set a savings goal. Stay focused on growing your fund quickly by setting a savings target. Calculate your goal by only including necessary expenses, such as housing, groceries, and student loan payments. Nonessentials (like gym memberships) should not be included in your calculations.
- Sell unwanted items. Used electronics, tools, and household appliances could quickly net you hundreds of dollars. These popular online marketplace categories attract buyers who need these products and will strike a deal to get their hands on items in good condition.
- Pause unnecessary services. While a drive-through car wash is often faster and more convenient than doing it yourself, the money you save can add up quickly. If you’re unwilling to part with a specific service, consider downgrading to a less expensive plan and deposit the savings into your emergency fund account.
- Stream free entertainment with your library card. Public libraries across the country give cardholders access to online digital content services at no cost. Borrow movies, music, eBooks, and audiobooks for free. Contact your local library for details.
- Start a side hustle. Earning money using your skills and spare time could help slash the time needed to build your emergency fund. Focus on offering specialized services to make the most money in the shortest time possible. For example, you’re likely to earn more per hour offering private music lessons than you are as a rideshare driver.
- Refinance your loans. Securing a new lower-interest rate loan to pay off high-interest debt could save you hundreds while lowering your monthly payments. If your credit score or income has increased since you initially applied for existing loans, you may be eligible for a lower interest rate.
- Tap your debit card rewards. Macatawa Bank customers can use their Rewards Debit Card to earn 1 reward point for every $2 spent on signature-based credit transactions. Points can be redeemed for cash. Deposit the extra money into your savings account to boost the balance.
- Update federal tax withholdings. If you receive a sizeable tax refund each year, consider submitting an adjusted IRS Form W-4 to your employer. Use the Tax Withholding Estimator to figure out how much you can increase your take-home pay today instead of waiting to receive your money in a lump sum next tax season.
- Shop around for lower insurance rates. Even if you’ve never filed an auto or home insurance claim, premiums can increase with each passing year. You might be eligible for reduced premiums based on your driving habits, professional affiliations, veteran status, or another qualifier and not know it. Speak with your insurance agent for details. If they’re unable to offer you a lower rate, consider switching to a different provider offering similar coverage for a lower price.
- Ask about unadvertised discounts. Some retailers rarely advertise discounts they offer based on the customer’s age, profession, or association membership. You might be surprised to discover that your favorite store offers discounts to teachers, veterans and people over age 55.
- Search for unclaimed property. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, billions of dollars in uncashed checks and unclaimed property are waiting to be collected by rightful owners. Conduct a free online search for forgotten assets you may have left in closed bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, or with service providers you have used in the past.
The faster you build your emergency fund, the sooner you can gain the peace of mind of having a cash reserve to weather a turbulent economy. Open a Macatawa Bank Regular Savings account today and earn interest on your balance!