This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine. Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA.
No matter where you look, what podcasts you listen to, or which friends you talk to, it seems that the universal first step for getting your finances in order is saving an emergency fund.
There’s a good reason for that.
Once you have an emergency fund saved, you’re more prepared for unexpected expenses in the future. You’re not at the mercy of a credit card to save you should your car break down or your kid needs stitches or any number of other money emergencies.
That is huge.
Because even if you have a super well-planned budget and perfect self-control, something like that can quickly tank your efforts… not to mention put a serious dent in your morale!
Of course, saving an emergency fund, even a relatively modest one of $1000, can feel like climbing Mount Everest in and of itself.
But that doesn’t have to be the case.
That feeling of overwhelm is exactly why I wanted to give you some actionable ideas to start saving an emergency fund ASAP – as painlessly as possible.
7 Easy Ways To Save For An Emergency Fund This Month.
Figure out your goal.
Do you want a $1000 emergency fund? A fund that contains 3 full months’ worth of expenses? Something in between? Whatever it is, figure it out, and write it down.
Whether you write it down on a post-it and stick it on the fridge or make a fancy chart to mark how close you are to the goal, it’s up to you.
The important thing is determining the goal.
After all, as soon as you define the dollar amount for your goal, it’s a lot easier to figure out how to get there. It’s easier to define success. It’s far easier to hold yourself accountable.
And maybe your “ideal” emergency fund amount isn’t within your reach this month, but as you look through the other steps, you may find it eventually will be attainable.
Regardless, though, if you get $50 more prepared for an emergency, that’s an extra $50 you don’t have to worry about. The important thing is getting started!
Meal plan easy dinners (with plenty of leftovers.)
Food spending is the one area I recommend people look at first when trying to reduce their budget.
Overhauling your whole grocery/eating out budget can feel intimidating. That’s why I’m going to encourage you to start by focusing on the “biggest” meal of the day.
Dinner has always been the most tempting meal to eat out for our family. It’s the time of day where everyone is so busy, the kids are cranky, and all we want is something everyone will eat with minimal clean-up so we can just relax after a long day.
While that sounds great in theory, even just hitting up a cheap drive-through becomes a huge expense – not to mention super unhealthy!
So having dinners under control helped our spending a ton.
Now here’s the hack: plan to make more than you think you’ll need for dinner, then pack it for lunch the next day.
Boom. One session of cooking, two meals covered, minimal money spent.
Not sure where to start on this? Check out my comparison of different meal kits and meal planning services!
Switch to a grocery pickup service.
If you’ve never done this before, it sounds like an unnecessary luxury reserved only for those with money to spare.
That’s so far from reality it’s not even funny.
Whether you use Walmart Grocery Pickup, a Kroger grocery store’s service, or another store’s pickup service, this is a great way to save money.
Why? Because you have literally no choice but to stick to your list.
You can’t wander down an aisle and get sucked in by chips or frozen pizza or anything else you think you can’t live without in the moment.
You can’t give into your kids requesting a toy (after managing to thwart the first 50 requests.)
If you never step foot in the store, there’s no way for anything else to sneak its way into your cart.
And at most stores, it costs you nothing to pick up your order. They don’t even ask you to leave a tip.
There’s usually a minimum order – typically $35 or so, which is easy to meet if you meal plan a bit.
Plus, if you’re unhappy with any of the items you receive (it happens!) they’re super easy to work with re: refunds.
Best of all, this is probably the most convenient way to save money ever. Talk about satisfying.
Switch to a small cell carrier with the same service.
Speaking of easy ways to save money, this is on par with grocery pickup… but possibly even easier.
After all, if you could get essentially the same plan you currently have, with your same phone and same number and everything, why wouldn’t you?
The great thing is, there are plenty of cell providers now who offer exactly that. Ting is our favorite!
Switching takes less time than you think. You can do it in just a few hours – with help from their customer service if you’re not super techy (I’m not!)
Worst comes to worst, you can switch back to your current provider if you hate it – no harm done.
More than likely, however, you’ll have saved about 75% of your previous monthly cost and get the same service.
Declutter your house and make some extra cash.
Now that we’ve looked at a few easy savings hacks, now it’s time for a little elbow grease. But not too much – remember, this is all about easy wins!
But the truth is, you probably have plenty of items in your house you could do without. Maybe more than you would like to admit.
Whether that’s housewares you’ve upgraded, things you got at your wedding or baby shower but never used (just us?), clothes that don’t fit right anymore- or whatever else, those unused items are a great way to make some extra money toward an emergency fund.
You can do a garage sale if you’re in an area and a time of year where it would be conducive, but it’s just as (if not more) effective to sell things via Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Mercari, to name a few.
In addition to netting you some extra cash, this is a great way to spend your time without spending any extra money! And a great excuse to listen to your current audiobook while you work.
Try some new forms of entertainment, at least for a while.
That reminds me – sometimes entertaining yourself and your family can be expensive. When you’re trying to save an emergency fund, that’s the time to re-think how you do so.
Instead of buying new books at the store, hit up your local library for some good reads, including audiobooks. Most even have new releases available – they just loan them out for a shorter amount of time.
Even if you’re more into audio or ebooks, many libraries now offer electronic ways to check those out, too!
Find some new movies to watch at home and have family movie night instead of going out. Again, this can be done via the library. You can even choose a treat to make at home, like super economical popcorn or a splurge like cupcakes or something.
Instead of going out mini-golfing or doing other activities that cost money, play board games as a family or even video games together. Get creative and make a mini-golf course at home – or whatever game you can think of.
Like hanging out with friends? Have dinner or drinks together at home whenever possible.
When it comes to entertainment, a little ingenuity can make for an even more fun evening for way less money.
Find your money-saving tribe.
On that note, if you’re really serious about saving for an emergency fund and overall getting in a better financial position, it’s a lot easier when you have people on your side.
After all, brown-bagging your lunch every day can feel a little discouraging when you’re surrounded by people who don’t think twice about a $20 lunch 5 days a week.
But when you’re working toward a goal with even one other person, the lousy side-effects of working toward that goal impact you far less.
As much as possible, surround yourself with people who share your goals. You can chat and commiserate with each other, celebrate each other’s successes, share any tips and tricks you find, and generally have a friend on the journey together.
This journey can sometimes feel isolating in a world that’s all about buying stuff, all the time -Having others around you who support your choices (and who you can support in return!) is priceless.
Cheesy? Maybe. But also true!
The month of April is also Military Saves Month. Join a community of people, who just like you, are dedicated to saving money and improving financial wellness. Take the Military Saves Pledge and share your savings success story!
Saving an emergency fund can feel daunting, but getting started right now is the best way to ensure that you will be that much closer to where you want to be in the long term.
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