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How To Build an Emergency Fund

by Kristin Smith

An emergency fund is something that all of us need but many of us neglect, even though it can mean the difference between having the extra cash or going into debt when faced with an unexpected expense. Is your emergency fund feeling neglected, or all together abandoned?

Here are some simple steps you can take to bring that relationship to the next level.

1. Add it up

The first step in building your emergency fund is determining how much money should be in it. Sit down with a budget worksheet and lay out your monthly expenses. To be comfortable, you’ll want to have at least 6 months’ worth of expenses saved up.

2. Start small

Six months’ worth, you say? That’s a lot of money! You’re right, knowing the amount you need in your emergency fund can be overwhelming. Start small by setting a savings goal for each week. The smaller amount will seem more manageable and the weekly goals will keep you on track. Use a savings calculator to determine what your weekly goal should be.

3. Automate it

You can’t spend money you never see. If you have a small amount of your paycheck directly deposited into your savings account, you won’t be tempted to spend it.

4. Carry cash

It’s really easy to swipe a card and walk away without thinking about how much you just spent. Start to carry cash and you’ll be quick to pick up on unnecessary spending. It’s much harder to hand over $20 than it is to hand over a debit card. Plus, you can drop your dollar bills and change into a jar at the end of the day and add that extra to your savings account weekly.

5. Eliminate waste

Take a second look at your budget. Where can you reduce your spending? There are always ways to bring your expenses down, you just have to decide where you’re willing to make some lifestyle changes.


If you don’t neglect your emergency fund, it will be there for you when you need it the most. The key is to keep at it. Don’t give up because the money isn’t growing fast enough. Having just a little extra on hand can make a big difference. How do you keep your emergency fund growing?


Updated 1-6-23

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