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You never know when an emergency expense might arise. If you own a home, there’s a host of things that could go wrong and leave you staring at a multi-thousand-dollar repair bill. And even if you don’t own a home, you might need to fix your car out of the blue, or cover a medical expense your health insurance plan won’t pay for.
Plus, you never know when you might lose your job — even if you’re a solid employee. And while workers who were terminated due to no fault of their own are generally entitled to have illness benefits, those typically don’t replace your full wages.
That’s why it’s so important to have a solid emergency fund. In fact, you should aim to have enough money in your savings account to cover at least three months of essential expenses. And for better protection, you may want to aim for six months’ worth — or more.
But in a recent Bank of America survey, only 44% of women said they’re doing well with regard to emergency savings. And if you feel that you’re lacking in cash reserves, then it’s important to take these essential steps to build more.
1. Get yourself on a budget
Without a budget, you might have a hard time tracking expenses or figuring out which of your bills to adjust. So take a little time to set one up and get yourself into a solid groove. You can budget by listing your expenses on a spreadsheet or piece of paper and comparing what you spend to what you earn. Or, you can play around with different budgeting apps and find one that’s easy and convenient to use.
2. Start spending less
The money you’re hoping to add to your savings account will need to come from somewhere. And a good place to start is non-essential spending — things like streaming services, gym memberships, restaurant meals, and other expenses that may make life more interesting and enjoyable, but don’t count as necessities the same way rent, utilities, and medication do.
You don’t necessarily have to eliminate every non-essential expense in your budget. But you may want to get rid of a few if your emergency fund isn’t close to where it needs to be, and roll that money into your savings.
3. Boost your income with a second gig
Today’s gig economy is thriving, and that means it’s a good time to go out and pick up a side hustle. That job can be pretty much anything you want it to be, whether it’s selling pieces of art or hand-crafted jewelry, offering childcare or pet care services, driving for a ride-hailing service, or doing marketing or web design work from home.
Think about the type of gig you can most seamlessly fit into your schedule, as that’ll be a good starting point. But don’t hesitate to try out different jobs, because the goal is to generate consistent income that adds to your savings nicely.
Building a solid emergency fund should be your primary financial goal. If you’re not confident in the state of your savings, take these steps to boost them — before the need to dip in arises.
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