15 Practical Ways to Start Building an Emergency Fund

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How to build an emergency fund, make extra money, save money in shopping, create a budget plan, emergency moneyA few weeks ago I published the article Why You Should Build an Emergency Fund for your Family. As I mentioned in that article, an emergency fund is cash that you’ve put aside with the intention of helping you keep your normal life when an emergency in life shows up.

One of the key points to good financial planning is preparing for the future, whatever is to come. That’s why an essential part of a solid financial plan is an emergency fund.

I think that everybody must have an emergency fund for those “just in case” scenarios that may surprise you in life.

If you already understand the advantages of having a fully funded emergency fund, then you are ready to start building your own one.

I’ve met some people in my life that felt discouraged due to the fact that to build an emergency fund you need a large amount of money. For some people, $3,000 emergency fund may be a lot to contribute. In this cases, I always suggest taking some time to build it up. You don’t need to fund your emergency savings all at once!

Even more important than how much you save every month, is to get started and be consistent so that you know when you will reach your emergency fund goal.

If you don’t know yet how much should you put into your emergency fund, you can use my Emergency Fund Calculator worksheet, but as a general rule, I have saved 3 months worth of living expenses.

Get your free copy of my Emergency Fund Calculator!

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Sign up and I'll send you a copy of my Emergency Fund Worksheet which is a printable you can use to plan how much you should save for your emergency fund.


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Building your emergency fund is easier than you think. In this article, I’ve included a few tips to start it out. After all, this is what has worked for my family!

Break It Down and Set a Monthly Saving Goal

I always work better towards a goal because it makes me focus. I believe this will work for you too. Decide how much you can save every month for your emergency fund (discuss it with your partner before to decide it just by yourself!).

Setting monthly saving goals will get you into the habit of saving regularly and will make the process easier. Also, determining how long will take to fully fund your emergency fund will be easier.

Imagine that you want to save $3,000 for your emergency fund and your monthly saving goal is $300. Then, you can calculate that you will have your emergency account ready in 3,000/300 = 10 months.

The more money you save every month, the less time it will take. But don’t get too obsessed with it! The important is that you are working towards it and every month you will be a bit closer to your goal.

I’ve found very useful for this step the use of the ASAP Emergency Fund Plan Guide, which teaches you how to save a $1,000 emergency fund in 30 days.

Get more info about the ASAP Emergency Fund Guide

Save Money In Your Shopping

If you want to buy something online, better use cash back sites and get paid for it.

Cashback sites give you money when you click them, and send you to the online shop. In my case, I’ve saved more than $200 on my car insurance.

I always check the three sites below before I buy something I want (most of the times is available through any of them):

  • SwagbucksSwagbucks is a search engine (like Google or Bing) that offers a chance to earn points (Swagbucks) for shopping online and testing products). When you have enough points you can get paid or receive gift cards. I already redeem 3 Amazon gift cards for $50 and it feels great. If you sign up now, you’ll get 100SB sign up bonus.
  • Ebates. Just by signing up with Ebates, you will receive a 3.0% cash back anytime you buy at Amazon. I’ve received more than $300 cash back from Ebates since I started using it a year ago. If you sign up now, you’ll get a $10.00 sign up bonus.
  • TopCashbackTopCashback is one of my favorite cash back companies. There are 20%-30% discounts in many hotels for when you are traveling. This year I saved $230 on my car insurance by using TopCashBack. Also, I received $135 cash back for my current internet company. If you sign up now, you’ll get a $10.00 sign up bonus.

Side note: Using cashback sites is a smart way of receiving some money back from your online shopping. When you receive the money back, you can send it directly to your emergency fund.

Make It Automatic

Schedule automatic payments from your main account to your emergency fund. You can set up a standing order (that’s what I do) and forget about it.

You can schedule the automatic payment to be the day after your payday so you don’t have unexpected surprises at the end of the month.

A good way to do this is by transferring a percentage of your salary, like a 5%. You won’t notice a 5% reduction of your monthly income but in the long term it will add up to your emergency fund.

Cut Down Unnecessary Costs

Unnecessary costs are different to different people. I will never ask you to cut out your takeaway coffee if this is a must for you. But if this is something you don’t mind, cut it out.

Some other examples of unnecessary costs that you can cut down are:

  • Electricity bills. A couple of months ago I bought an energy power meter (you can find very cheap ones on Amazon). I used it to measure the electricity cost of running each appliance at home. It was very easy to spot where did we spend most of our electricity bill. We replaced bulbs with energy saving ones and disconnected a couple of appliances we never used and… voila! We reduced our bill 30$/month.
  • Take your own lunch to work. I love bringing my own lunch to work! It’s a guaranteed “I like it” every day. Every weekend my wife and I cook meals for the rest of the week (and freeze them). Then, we defrost them the day before bringing to work. We’ve made some basic calculations and we’ve cut down over $200/month. Plus, now we eat healthier.
  • Buy the unbranded products in the supermarket. Unbranded products are not necessarily worst in quality. It’s just they save in advertising to provide a more competitive price. Every time you buy a branded product, you are paying a plus for the advertising campaigns they run.

Side note: Unnecessary expenses are costing you money. There are the little things that can make a whole. Once you find these unnecessary costs, it will be much easier to build your emergency fund.

Make Extra Money To Fund Your Emergency Account

  • Start a blog. Blogging is my number one hobby, and every month I’m making $1,400+ as a side hustle. If you don’t believe it, you can check out my online income reports where I share where the money is coming from. You can create your own blog here with my step-by-step tutorial (it takes less than 10 minutes).
  • Find a part-time job. Babysitting, proofreading, working in retail, or even doing freelance work are some examples of part-time jobs you can do to make some extra cash. Some places to find an online part-time job are Fiverr or Upwork (my favourite).
  • Answer surveys. Survey companies I recommend are Vindale ResearchAmerican Consumer OpinionSurvey DownlineEarning StationHarris Poll Online and Mr Rebates. All of them are free to join! You get paid to answer surveys and use some test products. The best thing to do is sign up for all of them, and start answering surveys to make as much money as possible.

Read more on ways to make money as a side hustle:

Other Ways to Save And Build Your Emergency Fund

There are many good ways of saving money to speed up the process of building up your emergency fund:

  • Walk or cycle to work – use public transportation if you live far from work (sometimes is cheaper than using a car, and more environmental friendly 🙂 )
  • Do the grocery shopping after lunch/dinner – you will buy less unnecessary things because you won’t feel like eating everything you see (it happens to me!)
  • Set a monthly budget for each of your monthly expenses. Read my article: How To Make A Budget Plan For Your Family (includes a free printable)
  • Cancel your gym membership if you don’t use it. As a substitute, you can get on your bike or do some jogging in the park.

Get more info about the ASAP Emergency Fund Guide

As you can see, it’s not difficult to start building your emergency fund.

After reading this post, you should have a clear idea of how to save for your emergency account. Remember to set up your goals and work towards it. And don’t forget to subscribe to receive my free Emergency Fund Calculator.

Do you already have your emergency fund? How long did it take to build it? Did you use it any time in the past?

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About Francisco Anes 78 Articles
Francisco Anes is a personal finance blogger who loves blogging and spending time with his family. He works from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday but his dream is to reach financial freedom. On his blog, he writes about saving money, budgeting, pay off debt and making money blogging. Francisco lives with his family in Cambridge, UK.

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