How to Build an Emergency Fund?

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The other day I was having a conversation with one of my buddies from college. He told me that his friend’s job got shut down unexpectedly. She was able to find employment within a few weeks, but she went from making an amount in the mid $30,000’s to $7.75 an hour. That would be rough for anyone. It would be even tougher if they didn’t have an emergency account. Unfortunately, she didn’t have one. She also has a child that she is taking care of. Luckily, she had family and friends to help her out during those few weeks she didn’t work. If she had an emergency fund, she would not have had to borrow from her family and friends. Today we are going to talk about how to build an emergency fund.

I know some people reading this can relate. Some people have a fully loaded emergency savings account, while some don’t. If you don’t today’s post is specifically for you. Everyone needs to know how to build an emergency fund. I’m about a throw out a random number. Let’s set $500 as an amount for someone trying to start their first emergency account. $500 is not that much money, but we all have to start somewhere. What would you do to get there? There are several things that you can do to make this a reality.

Assess Your Situation 

The first thing that you should do is assess your situation. You need to ask yourself a few questions. Why haven’t you been saving any money in the past? Do you spend your money on random things? Do you live in the moment instead of planning for the future? These are a few questions that you need to answer. Once you answer the questions you should now have a better understanding of why you don’t have any savings.

Create a Budget

The next thing that you should do is create a budget. You have to know what you’re spending your money on. A budget helps you allocate your money. If something isn’t in your budget, you should not spend your money on it. Two tools that I use to help me review my budget are Mint and Personal Capital. They will help you get on the right track.

Cut Costs

Cutting costs is the third thing that will get you on the how to build an emergency fund track. Eliminating things such as cable, gym memberships, or magazine subscriptions will allow you to save more money. Also, if you like to buy clothes, you should either add that to your budget or buy things when they are on sale.

Automate Your Savings

Saving automatically is one of the easiest methods to ensure consistent savings that will begin to grow over time. A common approach to that is setting up recurring transfers via credit union or bank so that money moves automatically to your savings account from your checking account. You can determine that amount and frequency, but after setting it up, get ready to make consistent contributions to your savings. I suggest you should consider your balances so that you will not incur overdraft fees when there are insufficient funds in your checking account at that time of automatic transfer. And to keep you updated, consider creating automatic calendar reminders for when to check your balance. Although anyone can consider this option, it is particularly for those with a consistent income.

If you are looking for a new account to help you save, check out Capital 1 360. I have an account with them that I rarely check. I have $15 automatically saved each month to this account.

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Save Through Your Job

Another approach to saving automatically is through your employer. Besides employer-based contributions made for retirement, you may have an opportunity to divide your paychecks between your savings account and checking account. If you are paid via direct deposit, ask your employer to know if you can divide it between two accounts. If you have that urge to spend your paycheck on receiving it, here is an effortless approach to putting a portion of the money aside without thinking twice. Again, I advise this for people with a consistent income. If you are getting a regular check from your employee, put it into good use by putting a part of it into savings automatically.

Select a Place to Keep Your Emergency Fund

When you are wondering how to build an emergency fund, the goal is to have swift, effortless, and easy access to your money. To achieve that, try keeping at least the amount that’s worth the first three months of expenses in a high-interest savings account, which will give you easy access at any date. Subsequently, you could keep any surplus funds into high liquidity, low-risk channels like money market account. When you want to start building an emergency fund, give it careful thought before investing in securities. That is because unwinding any positions to get back the money will likely take a few days.

A financial advisor at cinch financial, Kerry Moraity, advised that not only should you save your emergency cash in a different account from your regular checking, but it is even more preferable to keep them at an entirely separate bank. That considerably reduces the temptation of withdrawing from them while checking the other account balances.

Open an account with Capital 1 here

Work At It

Another thing you should when you are learning how to build an emergency fund is to work at it. If you don’t have enough money in your budget, it’s time to get on your grind. You can get a side hustle such as selling items on eBay or doing some freelance design or writing for people. If you don’t know of any side hustles that you can do you can find a part-time job. There are numerous part-time gigs out there. You just have to look for them.

Below are some side hustle related posts for you to check out:

40+ Side Hustle Ideas to Try This Month

The Entrepreneur Series: Jennifer J Artistry

Side Hustle Series: Having Successful Online Businesses

Side Hustle Series: Should You Start Freelancing

Continue Building When Needed

Finally, it is vital to recall that just because you might have achieved your long-term purpose of keeping an emergency fund, you should not discontinue. Your situation could alter via marriage or childbirth, and your expenses might arise as a result. And when that occurs, there should be an account for it. The funds you have build might not be enough.

Furthermore, if you need to withdraw from this account at any point in time, then you will also need to start the procedure to replenish the cash you took out.

Anybody can do these suggestions. If you’re struggling right now, you can change that today. I believe in you. We all had to start somewhere. It just comes down to how bad you want it or not.

Do you have any other tips on how to build an emergency fund?



  1. Having an emergency fund is sooo important no matter where you are in life or what your goals are! I’ve witnessed the stress of not having a sustainable emergency fund recently as I’ve told you how my fiance got laid off last week. Luckily, the company called him back two days later and hired him for another position which was such an indirect blessing for us but also a wake up call that we need to push harder to save more and diversify our income. Right now I’m almost contributing as much to an EF as I do for my debt payments with good reason. You never know what’s going to happen.

    1. That’s great that he was hired back. You’re right. That emergency fund is so important.

  2. There are actually formulas out there that describe how much one should have for an emergency fund. Based on salary, or an average freelance income; years employed can help determine how long it will take to find another job, etc. So for everyone, it can be different. But for certain, you have to start with calculating your minimum monthly expenses. These are fixed expenses, such as rent, utilities, auto and student loans, and groceries. I learned this the hard way!

  3. Those are some fine ideas. I used to like to save all my change until it filled a huge jar and then putt it towards my bills or emergency fund. People just need to be creative.

  4. We’ve always struggled to sock money away in our savings because of our student loans. We may have had some breathing room switching to income-based repayment, but I’m not sure it would have had much impact. So what did we do? Side hustles. As you mentioned if you are making enough to cover your expenses but you need that extra push to really start working at your emergency fund it’s best to find a way to increase your income. Every little extra bit helps.

  5. Cutting down expenses. Looking for cheap, bargains. It happened to me too. Still looking for side jobs.

  6. I got started with my emergency fund by setting up an account at another bank and then transferring $10 or $25 ever so often. I kept an adult piggy bank too, haha. After a few months, I had over $1,500 in it.

    After that, it didn’t feel so overwhelming doing it. Starting is the hardest!

    1. Smart man. Nothing wrong with having a piggy bank as an adult 🙂

  7. Sound advice Jason. I think the idea that you can cut a ongoing expense, such as cable, is a good way to come up with the means for an emergency fund. Although I have to say if you’re making $7.75 an hour and have a child to take care of besides, I don’t know how you could come up with anything extra.

  8. It can be hard to set money aside for an emergency fund when it’s already tight to pay basic living expenses, but your commenters have left some creative ideas. I think just getting into the habit, even if starting with very small amounts, helps.

  9. Jason, one of the things to do when you’re working is automatic withdrawals. Even the smallest amount, 5 or 10 dollars a week is a good start and once you see that building up, you actually want to find ways to put away just a little bit more. It’s amazing how that adds up. Great advice.

  10. Great tips for making an emergency fund, Jason. I read a guide on savings when I was a kid and it said a little bit of savings each day can add up to tens of thousands after 10 – 15 years. I was in. So, now, whenever possible, I remind people this fact.

  11. I can’t tell you how many people I work with that never think about having a emergency piggy bank for unexpected expenses. I keep my piggy bank account in a different bank so I can forget about it.

    1. It’s a shame that people don’t save.

  12. Sandra Dawkins says:

    Some key ideas indeed! A rule of the wealthy, no matter how much is earned, always pay yourself first! $50 per month in a 3% investment account accumulates to a surprising amount over time, and there are higher investment rates available. Get started today!

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