Did you know that according to this Vanguard article 56% of Americans don’t have an emergency fund that would cover 3 months of expenses?
An emergency fund, often called a rainy day fund, is extremely helpful when both planned and unplanned expenses arise. Unplanned expenses or emergencies happen to us all. Top emergencies include job loss, medical emergencies, unexpected home repairs, unexpected car repairs, and unplanned travel expenses.
Your emergency fund should not be in risky investments like the stock market, startup companies, initial public offerings (or IPO), venture capital companies, or precious metals. It should also not be in investments such as CD’s or bonds that time to readily sell for cash.
Your emergency fund when starting out should preferably simply be in a savings account. You could eventually put it into a money market account when you have 3-6 months of expenses saved up. That should eventually be your goal to grow your emergency fund to a fully funded emergency fund or 3-6 months worth of expenses. You want to have your emergency fund in an investment that is low risk, highly liquid, and easy to access.
The first thing you want to do is to gather $1000 in the bank quickly. This is your starter emergency fund. This will be particularly important if you are trying to knock out debt. Emergencies can and will happen. Having that emergency fund will help you avoid putting the costs of those emergencies on a credit card, borrowing from family, or taking out a small personal loan. How do you do gather $1000 quickly? Here’s 5 ways to increase your income.
1. Sell stuff!
Clean out your garage for an end of season garage sale or yard sale! Sell stuff online on eBay, sell on Facebook, or sell on Craigslist. Sell your stuff but if you a niche check out thrifts stores and sell other people’s stuff too!
2. Make Stuff!
Turn your talent into profit with crafts, sewing, jewelry-making, embroidery, patch ups, etc. Write a book or eBook. Check out freelance writing opportunities. You could even consider small-scale catering or starting up your own photography business.
3. Get a 2nd or 3rd job!
Or, encourage your spouse gets a job or 2nd job! This could be a job at the local mall, get a newspaper delivery route, wait tables, work seasonally, or delivering pizza like my friend Steven Goodwin did for a season of life. Think non-traditional jobs too. Become a tutor, dog walker, babysitter, mystery shopper, clean houses, paint, join a focus group, fix people’s PC’s, use TurboTax to do people’s taxes, run errands for the elderly, house sit, or join a focus group.
4. Go back to School
Go to your local community school and get your associate’s degree. Or go back and finish up your college degree and get that diploma. Or if you need that extra boost to your income go back to get a master’s or PhD degree. Apply for grants and scholarships here. Compare on Payscale job profiles to the salaries of people with comparable skills and experience here. Check out Glassdoor to lookup jobs by company and title here.
5. Think Outside the Box
If you have skills consider bartering to reduce your expenses. Check your withholding using this IRS’ withholding calculator to see if you can keep more of your paycheck each month. Rent out your extra room. If you are buying or own your home you shouldn’t face too many obstacles other than finding a tenant. Otherwise, if you are renting think about getting a roommate. This could also reduce your portion of the utilities in half too. Save every $5 bill you get in change in an envelope. After a couple weeks or the end of the month deposit the money into a savings account. Save all your coins in a piggy bank or jar. Pretend a gallon of gas costs $5 and save the difference into your emergency fund. Save 10% of what purchases you make into a savings account or emergency fund. Add savings as a line item on your budget. By the way, if you’re not on a budget now is a great time to get started! Listen to some free personal finance podcasts for motivation.
Once you gather this $1000 you can only use it for emergencies. This doesn’t mean a new furniture set, HDTV, cell phone, or computer. This is your safety net should something difficult happen. It’s going to rain! Think of your emergency fund as your umbrella. For somewhat predictable expenses like car insurance or saving towards purchases set up sinking funds.
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