Six Simple Steps to Jump-start Your Emergency Fund

Saving several months’ worth of living expenses for an emergency fund can be intimidating, especially when it feels like all of your available cash is already accounted for each month. Better Money Habits offers these six simple steps to help you get started building a reserve of cash — bringing with it greater financial security and peace of mind.

  1. Take it day by day
    Putting aside months’ worth of living expenses might seem like an impossibly tall task. But more important than hitting your savings goal right away is simply getting started. To do that, pick a realistic number you think you could work toward in the short term. Some people, for example, might start with a goal of $50 or $100 a month—as little as $2 to $3 a day.
     
  2. Pick something and cut it
    You could carpool or use public transportation to save on gas, bring your lunch to work or cancel that gym membership or cable subscription you don’t use. You may want to identify one discrete thing you can cut, which can be easier than trying to change your behavior.
     
  3. Make it easy on yourself
    An easy way to save more consistently is to set up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account. If you have direct deposit at work, you might be able to set aside a percentage of your paycheck to go directly to your emergency savings account each pay period.
     
  4. Don't let debt get in the way
    If you’re struggling to pay down debt, saving might be the last thing on your mind. And if your debt carries high-interest rates—like credit cards—it might make sense to aggressively pay down balances first. But if your rates and balances are lower and more manageable, you can work on both goals at the same time: Consider allotting funds to both debt and savings each month.
     
  5. Keep your funds accessible—but away from temptation
    Emergency funds must be available when you need them. That means not locking them up in accounts that charge you to access your money—or keeping them in an account you’ll be tempted to tap for everyday expenses. Consider creating a separate, interest-bearing, FDIC-insured savings or money market account.
     
  6. Now, up the ante
    Don’t stop once you’ve hit your initial savings target. Steadily increase your savings goals until you have put aside enough money to cover your expenses for three to six months—a significant buffer against unexpected emergencies.

Take the Pledge

Savers who make a plan are twice as likely to save successfully. 

Take the America Saves Pledge

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Administrator2 | January 13, 2014

    Never purchase expensive items on impulse. Think over each expensive purchase for at least 24 hours. Acting on this principle will mean you have far fewer regrets about impulse purchases, and far more money for emergency savings. http://ow.ly/sj972

Saver Tips and Stories View all »

Saving for a Bright Future

Written by Guest Blogger | April 15, 2019

Kristin Hendricks, a single mother from Texas, understands the importance of saving money and following a tight budget. She decided to make saving money a priority when she gave birth to her son.

Read more...

The Gift of Homeownership

Written by Tammy G. Bruzon | August 5, 2015

Quaneka Willis, a single mother of three children, was receiving rental assistance through the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee when she decided to take control of her finances. So, in September of 2013 she attended the Make Your Money Talk program and pledged as a Wisconsin Saver. In less than 12 months, she had maximized her savings and was beginning the process of purchasing her first home.

Read more...

From Overwhelmed to In Control

Written by | September 12, 2019

In 2017 Debi felt overwhelmed. Her credit cards were maxed, and she wasn't exactly sure how to handle it. When asked how her credit issues started, her answer sounded like many Savers that we've spoken to: making too many impulse purchases. “I was driven by feelings like ‘That sounds good,’ or ‘I am too tired to cook.’” Then she attended a university extension program that introduced her to America Saves. That’s where she heard the tip that set her on her savings journey - stop accumulating debt.

Read more...

Receive Updates

Take the Pledge

Written by Super User | September 16, 2013

Start Saving

Receive Texts

Written by Tammy G. Bruzon | July 15, 2014

Learn More

Partner News & Updates

Written by Katie Bryan | October 18, 2013

Sign Up