According to an article published in the Huffington Post, nearly half of all Americans have less than $500 in savings. There are many economic reasons for our lack of personal savings, but that doesn’t take away from the importance of having a safety net for unexpected expenses. There is no doubt that living paycheck to paycheck puts you at risk of being one illness away from bankruptcy. Even one significant financial hiccup like a car repair or furnace issue could start a series of events that can spiral into missed payments, collection calls, payment penalties, and possibly foreclosure or bankruptcy.
Emergency savings can make the difference between financial stress and financial chaos.
But how do you get there when there is nothing left over at the end of the month? The first step is so simple but many people honestly don’t want to know the answer. It can be scary and sometimes not knowing is easier. I am here to tell you that you can do it! Start by establishing a budget. You need to know exactly how much is coming in each month and how much is going out. Once you know that number you can figure out if you need to make changes. Is there anything leftover for your emergency savings? If not, here are some out of the box ideas on how to jump start and maintain your emergency savings.
Clean out your closets, garage and basement. Take everything that you no longer need or want and sell these items in a garage sale or online. You can do this with friends or neighbors to make it a little more fun! You will give up a weekend but if it means a deposit into savings, and reclaiming some space in your home, it is worth your time. Or checking out Ebay, Craigslist, Facebook Garage Sales or even listing items in your local paper. The old saying is “one man’s junk is another person’s treasure!” This is so true. So start cleaning. Split your stuff into 4 piles: sell, donate, trash and keep. Trust me, you will feel so much better!
Use your skills
If you have a skill or a hobby that you love, why not use it to make some extra money? Skills such as sewing, gardening, woodworking, party planning, housecleaning, organizing or decorating may seem simple but not everyone has your gifts. Turn your hobby into a jobby!
Save what you save
Planning your meals, shopping from a list, and cutting coupons can really bring down your grocery bill. Most stores give you receipts that show exactly how much your effort has saved you. Why not put that money into your savings? It could end up rescuing your personal finances one day; what better use can your money have?
Pay yourself first
Don’t wait until the end of the month to see how much money you have left to put into savings. The quicker you can sack that money into your savings, the less you will miss it. Set up your direct deposit or automatic transfer to make your savings contributions immediate and effortless. Make sure that your savings commitment is reasonable – if you can only do $20 a paycheck then set it up that way. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Out of touch out of mind
Keep your savings at a different bank or credit union than your checking. This will make it harder to access the funds unless there is an actual financial emergency.
As a recap, start simple. Make your budget and know your numbers. Then start putting some of these ideas into action and begin building up your emergency savings. You won’t regret it!
Are you having trouble taking that first step?
Consider your options with LSS–for free. Our certified counselors can help you develop a budget and a plan of action for an emergency savings based on your individual situation. Call us today at 877.577.2227 or visit our website at ConquerYourDebt.org. We are excited to work with you!
Author Ashley Hagelin is a financial counselor at LSS and specializes in Reverse Mortgage Counseling.