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Coronavirus. COVID-19. Pandemic. The name matters less than how much our reality has changed. Quarantine and social distancing is just one of the many new facets that are impacting our daily life. Let us hope this turbulent time is brief. Since there is very little we can change, as far as the world and all it’s ails, let’s dive into your emergency fund. Dive, dive, dive!
Turmoil is Why Emergency Funds are a Thing
A way to decrease stress and increase resiliency during bouts of turmoil is to have an emergency fund. A lump of money would be great right around now. Just enough to get us over the big hurdles of unemployment, medical bills, or some other human malady that is being thrown our way.
Before we get into the semantics, let’s dive into what we are not going to do. Let’s say a collective no to lamenting about the past and regretting what we didn’t do. If you’re a ruminator, I feel you! As a friend, please go easy on yourself. There is no need to beat yourself up on how unprepared you were. The world was unprepared for this! Besides this is a shame free zone!
Let’s move forward and cushion future blows with a fat emergency fund. Most experts recommend three to six month wages. However, if you are just getting into this fun adulting phase, let’s start smaller like $500. Here are seven ways you can boost your emergency fund when you’re already tight on cash.
Open up a separate savings account and name it something fun but relevant to an emergency fund. I call my savings account Skilled Sailor after the famous quote. Naming your savings account will help you to visualize your goal better. Fancy titles have that power.
“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” Franklin Roosevelt
Having this separate account will make it harder for you to access this slush fund, which is the whole point. Legally you can only withdraw from a savings account six times a month. Proof that even the Feds want you to save! I use Discover’s savings account because their savings accounts are typically higher than average. At the time of this writing, my interest rate is at 1.5%. You won’t be making millions in interest but it is better than 0% in a checking account.
If you are finically able, set up an automatic transfer, even if it’s a $1. You can always increase it later but getting started is usually the hardest part of building habits.
Cut the Cord
What kind of services are you subscribing to? A gym, prepackaged food, streaming music, is any of this sounding familiar? Think about these services and if you can cut them. If you are getting an anxiety attack just thinking about it, try suspending them. Make it a test. If you can go one or two months without missing that service, cancel it. Remember you don’t have to make any of these changes permanent. I am sure those companies will be more than happy to have you come back when you’re ready.
Cut the Fat
I know you are out there getting groceries because the shelves didn’t bare themselves! I know we stocked up a bit with the extra at home cooking. However, there are many ways to save on your groceries from making a shopping list to cashback from grocery apps. As you accumulate these little chunks of money, roll those little money bonuses into your emergency fund.
Go Green and Granny!
Now is a great time to jump into more sustainable living. What do I mean with that bold statement? Replacing disposable items for reusable products. Let’s go green and shift into granny gear! Does your granny save everything? Does it take you ten minutes to find the butter because all the butter containers are used as Tupperware? Let’s tune into that channel. Yes, Jeopardy and the Price Is Right is on that channel too.
When you run out of paper towels pick up microfiber cloths instead. Wash and reuse Ziploc bags. Swap your disposable k-cup for a reusable pod. I like using this one. Coffee tastes the same but is cheaper!
There is an eww factor here but if your stomach is strong, continue reading, brave friend! Instead of tissues use a handkerchief. Some people use family cloth which is like a diaper but for adults. You know, reusable toilet paper. We are soooo not there but I am providing options. What you choose is on you.
The Mystery Money
If you like mysteries you’re going to love this. Open an investigation into your “forgotten” money. Think of all the places you could have cash. Cash out your credit card rewards and put that money in the bank. Check your PayPal account and drop that into your emergency fund. Do you have any reward apps? See if you have enough to cash out. Do you have a change jar? Take that to the bank and turn it into cash. I promise Tiger King on Netflix can wait.
Switch Your Carrier
Phones are basically a necessity but that doesn’t mean they have to be expensive. We use Cricket. It is not fancy but on a family plan with unlimited data and text we pay $25 a month. Did we have to jump in with two other people? Yes, but guess what? Still worth it!
If you need to squeeze a little tighter and your all in on increasing your emergency fund, one area you will have to strengthen is your no-muscle. There are things you will have to say no to. No to yourself, no to your spouse, even no to the kids. If you can say no to Girl Scout cookies you are already at expert level 100.
It’s going to be hard and it’s going to be ugly but stay strong! Make it rain NOs! It’s a sucky feeling; no one likes to say it let alone hear it but remember why you are saying no. You are trying to make future you a little less stressed than current you.
Money is Power. Go Forth and Power your Emergency Fund.
Nobody asks for pandemics, layoffs, or medical bills. If they did chances are they are off their meds. Nobody wants these things but we should prepare for them anyway. Let’s start small today so by the next crisis your finances will be one less thing you have to stress about. What are you going to do to increase your emergency fund?
You got this!