Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How to Build Your Emergency Fund

If you are a fan of Gail Vaz-Oxlade or a follower of Dave Ramsey, you are no doubt aware that the first important step toward having a balanced, healthy financial situation is to have an Emergency Fund.

The first step in getting that E-Fund is to define what they Emergency Fund will cover, what a 'true' emergency is to you. For our family, a job loss would qualify. A large insurance deductible for a collision is another for us. A $200 pair of pumps is not. Get the idea?

Due to the unique nature of our own personal and business finances in our household, we also had to separate and define between an Emergency Fund and an Essential Emergency Expense Account. No difference to you? No worries then. But for our family  the E-Fund is for things that cannot be planned for, and completely unexpected. Our EEE Account is for the specific case of loss of income, due to job loss or a period of continual low income. It's our own built in safety net.

If you are striving to save a DR $1000 Baby Emergency Fund, or several months worth of household expenses, you have to set aside money out of your budget, from one area or another.

How do you build an E-Fund?
One bit at a time.

In order to get $1000, you must first have $500. In order to get $500, you must first have $100. To get to $100, you must first have $20. And in order to do that, you must not spend and save the first dollar. That first dollar requires a change in your thinking. You have to acknowledge that you are not in the best place you could be financially, and that to get where you want to be, you must do things differently.

Ideas to build your E-Fund:

  • cut back a little from each of your variable expense categories; even a $5 reduction in groceries per week could mean $20 to start out
  • save your pocket change: a few coins could add up to a sum of $10-$20 over one month
  • call your cable and/or telephone provider and see if you can temporarily reduce your monthly bill
  • OR cancel your cable altogether for 3-6 months; you'll save on the expense and it will encourage you to find alternatively inexpensive forms of entertainment
  • have a yard/garage sale: selling unneeded stuff from your home can bring in hundreds of dollars
  • have one week where you replace all purchased beverages with tap water for your family, the 'savings' being put toward your fund
  • ask for some extra hours at work, or find a temporary part-time job; all earnings go to fund
  • make do with things you already have or do without (this one is very hard for most folks)
  • challenge your family to have a 'no eating out' month; cook together at home and bank the difference
This list is not exhaustive by any means, but for those who are striving to get their finances to a better place, this is a good start on the Emergency Fund. The more you put in, more opportunities to 'save' will become apparent to you as time goes on. But it won't be without sacrifice. You have to do things differently in order to get a different result, kwim?

What say you, readers? What are your suggestions on building an Emergency Fund?


  1. Oh, such a great post! Especially since I am currently building my emergency fund. I am currently working on collecting items around the house for a big yard sale once the days are a bit nicer and have put a few bigger items on kijiji. I am cutting back in lots of areas but not sure how long I can keep that up. And I am trying to think of other ways to boost my efund. Look forward to reading the suggestions that others come up with as well.

  2. Great post! I'm currently rebuilding my EF. I'll be throwing any "extra" checks in there. ie. medical reimbursement, rebates etc. as well as making weekly deposits. I'm hoping it adds up fast.


  3. Love your ideas! If murphy will stop visiting, I may just be able to have an e-fund. I like your idea of two...

  4. I'm trying to build my Efund too. It isn't easy and it seems to grow so slowly. This month we're doing a quasi-no-spend month. I'm hopeful that we'll have around $200 to slap onto the EFund at the end of the month. That's $200 we wouldn't have had because we simply would have spent it in our jar amounts. On a positive note, my Efund earned $8 in interest last month! Finally, I'm starting to see my money working hard FOR me! Cool!