I’m super attached to my emergency fund. I saved my first baby emergency fund of $2,000 in 2015 when I’d just started out on my debt payoff journey. Since then, I’ve had a hard time becoming comfortable parting with the money for any reason.
It’s important to save money and avoid touching it in case you really need it. I’m the type of weird person who feels guilty for using my savings for justified reasons and I know that’s not helpful.
So long story short, after holding onto my emergency savings for several years and continuing to stash money away, I ended up having to spend about half of the money in my EF last month. Ouch!
Becoming a homeowner is more expensive than I thought, and I regret to admit that I pulled from my EF to cover non-emergency expenses like extra materials that we needed to fix up our home. It was better than the idea of taking out debt, but now I’m faced with the responsibility of replenishing my account and I want to do it fast. I don’t want to run the risk of being faced with additional unexpected expenses that I can’t afford so my goal is to top off my emergency fund by the end of this year.
An emergency fund is just one helpful line of defense I’d recommend having to protect your yourself from financial turmoil. The thing is, no one wants to spend years and years building their emergency fund. Here are some effective ways to help you get started and you grow your emergency fund FAST.
Make a Commitment
The first thing you need to do if you want to reach any financial goal is to make a commitment to prioritize it above anything else. If building your emergency fund ASAP is your current goal, you’ll need to focus in on it and choose the amount you want to end up saving and give yourself a deadline.
Open up a separate savings account if you haven’t already and set up automatic transfers. I keep my emergency fund in a high-yield savings account at Capital One 360 where it earns a competitive interest rate which helps frow my balance.
Paying yourself first will be a crucial action to take to ensure you stay on track. Oh, and you’ll need to make some sacrifices too. I’m sure you’re probably thinking no duh Chonce, but you really have to mentally prepare yourself for the change.
This may mean saying no to certain things or cutting back in other areas of your spending.
Related: Why You Need a Full Emergency Fund
Budget For Savings
After you’ve committed, be sure to adjust your budget to accommodate your aggressive savings goals. Add a savings category to your budget or increase your current savings rate to speed up the process.
See which expenses you can cut or reduce even if it’s temporary. If you use a spreadsheet system like me, you can easily play around with the numbers and adjust your spending categories to see how much you can afford to set aside.
A healthy and specific budget is going to be key in all of this and keep you on track while you work toward your big goal
Related: Learn how to budget correctly here
Find One-Time Extra Income Opportunities
Don’t just settle for your budgeted amount when it comes to making savings contributions. If you want to reach your emergency fund goal fast, consider increasing your savings rate by finding one-time income opportunities.
Usually, summers are slow for blogging and freelance work, but I picked up a few freelance projects this summer that are keeping me super busy. I have to get better at managing my time but on the bright side, I’ll be making extra money that can go directly toward savings.
You can do this too if you’re trying to grow your emergency fund fast. See if there are any one-time gigs or projects you can do for extra cash.
I’m not going to lie, freelancing gigs are one of the best ways to make a lot of extra money quickly. You can write one-off guest posts on other sites, do a few photography shoots, sell your graphic design services on Fiverr, offer consulting services, or even do some VA work to make thousands in a short amount of time.
The best part is that you don’t have to stick with it forever. Just make enough money to top off your emergency fund and give yourself some better peace of mind.
Sell Your Old Stuff
You probably saw this one coming. Selling your old stuff is a classic way to make extra money quickly. When it comes to growing your emergency fund fast, you don’t want to waste time selling the old junk you have.
You want to sell the nice, big-ticket items that are going to make you a lot of money. If you have small appliances, furniture, TVs, or electronics, these items will get you the most bang for your buck.
Good-quality clothes, shoes, and books are still nice to sell but you’ll have to sell a lot more to earn a substantial amount.
One of the best places to sell items online nowadays is the Facebook Marketplace. I’m a frequent Facebook Marketplace shopper and I’m often raving on social media about all the great deals I find.
If you have really nice and in-demand items, they will sell quickly on the Facebook Marketplace and you’ll be able to reach your emergency fund goal quicker.
Use Windfalls and Bonuses
It’s feels so good to receive unexpected money like work bonuses and tax refunds. Since you weren’t expecting the money in the first place, you can avoid the temptation of wanting to spend the money.
My husband gets the opportunity to earn a bonus each month at his job and it’s kind of fun because we never know how much it will be. Yet, we know that we don’t plan to spend it and will just throw it into our savings account.
Tax refunds and end-of-year work bonuses can provide a major boost to your emergency fund balance.
A windfall I’m not counting on but would definitely put in my savings account is a security deposit check from our old apartment. If you move out of a rental, don’t forget to follow up on your security deposit to see if any of it will be returned to you. Like I said, it’s not something to count on, but it’s a nice way to bump up your savings if you get one.
If you don’t get any of your security deposit back, your landlord should still provide you with an itemized list of the repairs your deposit money went toward within a reasonable time frame from you moving.
Get a Regular Side Hustle or Second Job
As Dave Ramsey always claims on his radio show, “you can earn a couple hundred to a thousand dollars a week delivering pizzas on the side”. If you don’t like that idea, there are plenty of ways to make extra money with an ongoing side hustle or second job.
Some of my favorite options are driving for Uber, freelancing, testing websites, tutoring online, babysitting, dog walking, and becoming a virtual assistant.
All of the above will help you earn hundreds extra per month. Those are just a few ideas but there are so many options out there. You just need to be willing to take action and try them out. Once you find the most lucrative side hustle for you, stick with it and be disciplined with your spending to grow your emergency fund fast.
Now I want to hear from you.
Do you ever feel guilty for whatever reason when you use your savings? Are you trying to rebuild or grow your emergency fund fast? What steps are you taking?
STOP Living Paycheck to Paycheck
You can't break free from the status quo when you're living like everyone else. Get one of the free spreadsheet tools I used to pay off $35,000 of debt quickly, build an emergency fund, and break the paycheck to paycheck cycle.