30 Ways to Build An Emergency Fund
“63% of Americans don't have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency.”
Many will agree that having a stash of cash or an emergency fund to cover life's unexpected expenses is important yet most struggle to save one. In fact, a recent survey from Bankrate.com found that 63% of Americans don't have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency. Having an emergency fund greatly improves the ability to recover from a financial hardship and is foundational to building wealth over the long-term. If you have little to no savings, start with a $500 goal. Acquiring even $500 will boost your confidence to save more. Commit to reaching this goal in 30 days and gradually increase your emergency savings to at least three months of your household expenses. Your emergency fund should only be used for unexpected emergencies. Refrain from borrowing money from yourself or dipping into it so it's there when you need it. Once saved, place it into an account separate from the one used for everyday spending and bills. Consider placing it into a money market account for higher interest rates and easy access in the event of an emergency. Be sure to avoid accounts with maintenance fees as this may deplete what you've saved.
Building your emergency fund may require a little creativity and ingenuity. Here are 30 ways to save and earn your way to $500 in the next 30 days.
1. Pay yourself $125 per week or $17 dollars a day for 30 days.
2. Eliminate non-essential expenses. Put the money saved toward your $500 goal. Non-essential expenses can include cable and unutilized membership fees.
3. Collect the coins hidden under the sofa, empty your piggy bank and exchange your coins for cash. Avoid kiosks with excessive service fees and find a bank that will accept them for free.
4. Help save lives by donating plasma. Donating over a 30 day period can earn you up to $250.
5. Reduce or eliminate fast food. With a fast food meal averaging $10, cutting back one per week will save you $40 over the next 30 days; a good contribution to your goal.
6. Organize a Crockpot Soup Surprise at your job. Each person brings one thing to add to the pot; typically a can of veggies that's been lost in the cabinet for a while and surprise! you've saved money.
7. Say goodbye (at least temporarily) to your name brand coffee and hello to savings. By cutting back on one coffee a week you'll be able to save $20.
8. Sell stuff on Offerup.com, Craigslist or have a garage sell. It's said that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Make someone happy and take a step towards your goal.
9. Drive for Uber or Lyft. A recent survey found that Uber drivers averaged $15.68 per hour and Lyft drivers averaged $17.50 per hour. Driving just 8 hours per week in most locations will earn you $500 in the next 30 days.
10. Don't like the idea of driving around strangers? Let a stranger drive your car. Turo.com allows you to rent out your car and pays you 90% of the profit. Their onsite calculator shows you your earning potential and you'll be on your way to $500 in no time.
11. Sell baked goods to family and friends. Post a Facebook comment advertising your price and product. Follow up with anyone who replies. The holidays are always a good time to share your gift for profit.
12. Have a family car wash. Most car wash events are for good causes and taking steps to secure your future is one of them. Grab a bucket, some towels, soap, a dollar tree poster board, turn up the music, have some fun and make some money.
13. Become a Takl On Demand Home Services Provider. Earn your way to $500 by doing household tasks of your choice. More information can be found at takl.com.
14. Babysit for family and friends for a small fee.
15. Get a side job. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour but chances are you live in a state that pays more. Working a little over two 8-hour shifts over 4 weeks will earn you $500.
16. Rent out a spare room. Ask for a deposit and first month's rent upfront and goal accomplished!
17. Exchange unused gift cards for cash. Websites like raise.com and cardpool.com will pay up to 96% of the card's value.
18. Reduce your grocery bill by participating in Meatless Monday. Meat is typically more expensive than other vegetarian proteins like beans and lentils. Save money by preparing one meatless meal per week.
19. Reduce your grocery bill by eliminating foods that provide little or no nutrition. The cost of juices and boxed and bagged snacks can add up quickly. Water is free and drinking more will leave more money in your wallet.
20. Sell your gently used clothing and baby items to a consignment store.
21. Become an Airbnb host. You can host your space, co-host for a neighbor or host a unique experience for the extra income you need to reach your goal.
22. Have a knack for crafts? Open a virtual shop to sell your creations. Many websites will allow you to promote your products. Some are free and some charge a small fee. If this is your gift; step out and reach your goal. You may even gain a business in the process.
23. Ever wonder what to do with the hundreds of photos sitting in your phone and computer? Become a ShutterStock.com contributor. Earn income selling royalty-free images, footage and illustrations. Earn .25 cents each time your photo is downloaded.
24. Do you work in the field of education? Teachers Pay Teachers is a website that allows for teachers to sell original educational handouts and materials. Visit teacherspayteachers.com to see how you can begin earning.
25. Sell customized T-shirts and other products online. With the popularization of drop shipping, more and more people are creating products with little to no upfront costs.
26. Everyone is good at something. Whether it's braiding hair, making music, baking pies or solving quadratic equations, people will pay you to learn a skill. You can do this by offering a class or webinar for a fee.
27. Organize a community soccer, basketball or football league for a player fee.
28. Sell your old cell phone or tablet for cash. Kiosks like ecoATM will pay you money instantly for recycling your devices.
29. Have a recent big accomplishment at work? Now may be a good time to ask for a raise.
30. Apply for your dream job. Step out of your comfort zone and into something new. This may be an effective way to earn more and reach your financial goals.
What strategies have you used to build your emergency fund?
Share them below.