An emergency fund is an ideal way to keep yourself out of debt. Many times, people use their credit cards when an emergency arises and then they continue to use them until they can barely make the minimum payments. As a result, they go deeper and deeper into debt simply because they used their credit card for an emergency. Here are some strategies for building your emergency fund and staying out of debt.
The best way to start building an emergency fund is to start right away. You don’t have to wait until you get a windfall of money to begin an emergency fund. You can start just by taking a sandwich to work every day instead of going out to lunch all the time. You could save $20 or $30 each week by doing that and putting that money into your emergency fund. At the end of the month, you could have more than $100 in the fun. That’s enough to cover some emergencies even without a credit card!
Make Some Cuts
There are always things you can cut out from your budget to save money. Do you really need all those movie channels? Do you have to buy the DVD of a movie when it comes out instead of renting it? Do you have to go to Starbucks every day before work? Take a look at your spending habits and the luxuries you pay for and see what you can cut out and put towards your emergency fund. You might even find out that you don’t even miss those things after a couple weeks.
Keep Your $5 Bills
You have probably heard of Bank of America’s Keep the Change program. This concept uses the same idea but on a larger scale. When you use cash, keep any $5 bills that you have. When you get change at the gas station or wherever, take any $5 bills and set them aside for your emergency fund. Or, if you can afford it, do $10 bills instead. You will be amazed at how much you will save in just a couple months.
Set Aside Half of All Extra Money
If you get a bonus or some extra money for whatever reason, but at least half of it aside for your emergency fund. After all, this is money you didn’t plan on having in the first place so it should be no sacrifice using it for your emergency fund.
Saving for an emergency fund may give you less spending money in the immediate future, but it will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest in the long run. Instead of paying for your emergency with a credit card along with all the interest that accrues, you can simply pay for the situation with cash and be done with it for good. It’s a good financial habit to get into, but it takes some work and motivation to get started.