Saving regularly is one of the most important things you can do to improve your financial resilience because savings will provide a cushion if you have unexpected expenses or experience a reduction in earnings.
But what should your savings goal look like? As a minimum requirement most financial experts suggest setting up an emergency savings fund of between three to six months of basic living expenses.
In reality though, even if you know you need to money put aside for emergencies it may well be that you’re still not quite sure how to make it happen. Maybe you’re already operating on a tight budget or maybe you’ve tried making savings a priority before and failed?
So how do you manage to pay your monthly bills and still have enough left over to put aside for a rainy day? Here are six ways to build an emergency savings fund whatever your current income.
1. Save first, not as an afterthought
The first way to ensure you build up an emergency savings fund is not to base the amount you save regularly on much you think you will have ‘left over’ at the end of the month, but rather to ‘pay yourself first’. This means committing to saving a regular amount as soon as you get paid and before you do anything else.
Once this money is safely in your savings account, you won’t be tempted to spend it on all the other things that tend to crop up.
2. Set it and forget it
Take things further by ‘automating’ your savings to reduce any likelihood of human error (or weakness). A big advantage of saving with a Credit Union like Transave is that you have to commit to saving regularly either at source via payroll deduction or by an automatic transfer from your bank in the form of a Direct Debit.
3. Stash any windfalls
Resist the urge to automatically spend any extra lump sums that come in. If you get a windfall consider stashing it immediately in your savings account.
Since you weren’t counting on this money as part of your monthly budget, you’ll not miss it and it will help get you closer to your savings goal.
4. Slash your budget
Free up extra money for savings by taking a red marker to your budget and trimming as much as you can.
Do you really need all those satellite channels? Do you really need to eat out three times a week? Every bit you can slash from your monthly budget gives you more cash you can put toward your emergency fund.
For more information on budget planning see our article here
5. Increase your savings
Once you’ve got into the savings habit, look for opportunities to increase your contributions.
For example: If you’ve decided to save 10% of your monthly pay consider making a small increase and set aside 12% instead. It’s likely you won’t even notice the difference, and these small changes can really add up over time.
6. Keep saving beyond your goal
When you get started with an emergency savings account, it’s great to have a goal. But what happens when you meet that goal?
By this point, it’s likely that you’ve become accustomed to setting aside some of your income for your emergency fund. And just because you’ve met your goal doesn’t mean you should stop saving. There’s no such thing as having too much money saved for an emergency, so keep it up if you can.