We all know how important it is to have some money stashed away in case of emergencies. We have different names for this stash of money, from the “Rainy Day Fund” to the “Emergency Fund,” or “EF.”
In times of economic trouble, it can be difficult for the underemployed, even the average citizen, to find ways to sneak money into an emergency fund. Unfortunately, emergencies happen, and they don’t wait until you’re financially stable (hence the word “emergency” rather than “whenever you feel like getting around to it”).
Here are some of the clever and easy ways I’ve managed to sneak money into my own emergency fund. And I can tell you from experience that even having an extra $100 here and there can save you from over financing with credit cards or tacking on overdraft fees in bank accounts.
Earn Online or at Craft Fair
I enjoy writing articles and making a little extra money from Associated Content by Yahoo!, SharedReviews, even by taking surveys. I do not rely on any of these as primary sources of income, so I don’t need to spend my earnings right away when I receive them.
I send each month’s payouts directly from PayPal to a savings account. Even if I write or participate very little for the month, I still make at least $10 that I can send to this account in addition to other money I am able to save.
Other people have craft shops at etsy.com or sell their own jewelry, cards, or knitted goods at craft fairs. This can be another opportunity to save in an EF.
Save Your Tips
In college, I worked at a sandwich shop that had a tip jar. My tip money was not a primary source of income; my paycheck was. So each night I worked, I’d walk away from the sandwich shop with anywhere from $3.00 to $10.00 in tip money. I would pocket this cash until I got home, then I’d throw it into a piggy bank or Ziploc bag.
Every few months, I’d deposit this money into a savings account. It might only be a deposit of $30 at a time, but after awhile, it added up. It was not money I’d counted on earning, so I didn’t miss it when I wasn’t spending it. When it was tucked awayin the savings account, it earned a tiny bit of interest. This money became useful when I had to pay for health costs, moving, etc.
Pick up Loose Change
They say, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Most of us ignore the value of pennies because it takes so many to make up any large amount of money. However, if you save your loose change and even pick some up off the ground, you can amass a decent amount of money for an EF over time.
Save Change from Restaurant Bills
If you still pay restaurant bills in cash, you likely have money left over after tipping your waiter or waitress. Rather than pocketing and ignoring that $2.40, why not save it in a storage container each time to collect some money for the emergency fund? Again, this small amount of cash can be stored away, and you won’t miss it, but over time, it can add up.
Deposit Gift Money
When I get money as a gift, I usually have several ideas floating around in my head about how I can spend it. In past years, I’ve tried to resist the urge to spend this money when I didn’t have to spend it. Instead, I’ve opted to deposit this gift money into a savings/EF. I’ve found it to be exciting to then look back at the account to see a much higher balance. For me, that’s been more rewarding than spending the dough on a small gadget or gizmo.
Fund the EF from Checking
Many banks offer an option to transfer money from your checking account to your savings account. This is an easy way to make sure money gets to the savings account without having to think about it. And if you have an emergency and need the cash, it’s easy to transfer it back to your checking account.
In my personal checking account, I have money deposited four times per month to my savings account. At $25 each time, I rarely notice that the money has even been removed from the checking account, but it guarantees that $100 goes to my EF every month.
Deposit Your Tax Return
At my house, we always seem to be paying in more money each year, but I do know that some people get money back in a tax return. If you haven’t been counting on this money, you can save it in the emergency fund.
These are just seven ways to save money without having to stress about it. What has worked for you?