Monday, December 21, 2015

Emergency Fund tips: How to build it up when you have no cash

I'm going to recycle a little bit of content from an old post here, I hope you don't mind.  I sit here with a broken shower pan that our home warranty doesn't cover, staring at some pipes because the plumber had to cut holes in my ceiling.  Talk about an unexpected expense!  While we get an estimate and decide whether we will have to contact our homeowner insurance, I got to thinking about emergency funds and just how you truly don't know when life will happen and you might need some cash for an unforseen expense.  So here's my advice for building up your emergency fund when you don't seem to have the cash after  payday:

Pay yourself first.  Even a modest amount each week will build up to a sizeable amount eventually.  Tax time is coming, so earmark a portion of any refund for emergency fund use, too.

Hold a yard sale/garage sale.  My area actually as a Facebook group that's local where people can post things for sale.  Many apps are also popping up that offer this service.  Local police in your area may be willing to offer their parking lot as a safe place for transactions.  This is true for my area.  So take some pics, price it, and see if there's a Facebook group near you that is available to join.

Refunds/Rebates. Be on the look out for rebates and follow frugal sites such as this one!  Don't miss out on opportunities to get freebies and rebates for items that you purchase.  I recently found a $10/$30 ham or turkey form, so you bet I'm going to cash in on that 33% discount off some ham.  I will have to wait for the money to roll back in, of course, but I won't be making a purchase I wasn't planning to anyway.

Rewards sites.   My favorite, of course, is Swagbucks. I watch videos, do some surveys, search, participate in contests, etc. all to earn points known as Swagbucks that I cash in for giftcards or even PayPal (cash!)

Credit Card Rewards.  If your credit card offers cash back bonus for purchases, consider taking the cash as a check, if they will let you.  If you take it as a statement credit, be sure to pay yourself back later.

Use your talents.  I've seen some pretty ingenious ways to make money on the web, aside from blogging or running websites.  I know Etsy sellers who sell their crocheted/knitted works, crafts, etc. and even saw a profile there that sold reclaimed yarn from sweaters.  If you have a hidden talent, be sure to put it to good use, even if it's an occasional thing that earns you money.

Adjust your withholding.  If you are getting back a lot of money each year, you should consider adjusting your withholding so that you get more of it back during the year when you likely need it most. 

Sweepstakes.  Enter contests online that offer cash or gift card/Visa card prizes.  I know someone who once won a rare game console tied to a certain star that had died of a drug overdose.  The item was listed on eBay and went into the several hundreds of dollars!  So even if you don't want the prize yourself, consider that you could always sell it (see other listing about finding a Facebook group in your neighborhood sales.)

Ignore your raise.   If you are getting a raise in January that actually is a net gain after your health insurance costs increased, a good way to build up your emergency fund would be to treat that raise as if it never happened, at least for a while, until you build up a nest egg.  At the very least, try to save some of it for a rainy day.  Also a good thing to consider:  if you receive reimbursements from a flex spend account, treat that money as found money and save it since you already spent it once anyway.

Not a coupon clipper?  Today is as good as any to start!  Check my side bar for links to coupons from  I love printing out coupons and recently saved $3 on a bag of my cats' litter.  Meow!  Since I am brand loyal, it was nice to save a chunk of change.  So when you print and use coupons, take that money and set it aside.

Change jug.  Does your bank count change for free?  Skip those machines that cost you to count it up.  Deposit your spare change in your emergency fund.  Some banks will even do a round-up to an even dollar and transfer that money to savings when you use their bank card. Check it out for neighborhood jobs such as a date night babysitter, dog walker, or pet sitter.  I have a friend that makes money house sitting occasionally because the couple's dog does not board well. 

Hope this list has helped and that you are able to employ some of the strategies to bulk up your savings for when bad things happen to good people.
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