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Why You Need an Emergency Fund and How to Get One

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An unfortunate reality for 69% of Americans is not having a rainy day fund of $1,000 or more in savings. If you’re among the 69%, you know all too well the stress of hoping not to run out of money before month’s end.

It is a stressful grind but you’re managing. Until the unexpected hits. Your car quits on you on your way to work, the hot water tank springs a leak, or your pet is in need of some special veterinary care. Chances are, none of these scenarios are factored into your monthly financial plan, so how do you deal with them? The best way to plan for the unexpected is to have an Emergency Fund.

What Is It?

An Emergency Fund is money that you consistently set aside from your regular monthly expenses to cover life’s unexpected happenings.

For those trying to avoid the temptation of thinking your Friday night pizza is an emergency or that you simply must have a Booze Pinyata, it is best to keep your Emergency Fund in a separate savings account.

How Much Should You Set Aside?

For an initial emergency fund goal, aim for putting aside $1,000. This may seem like a lot, but with the average price of a single auto repair coming it between $500 and $600, this is a good buffer amount to start with.

Once you have your finances in order and are able to pay off any debt you have, you can work on saving up a larger fund. This one should have enough in it to cover three to twelve months of expenses. This can see you through an unexpected job loss, short-term disability or time off to care for loved ones.

How Can You Save Enough for an Emergency Fund?

You may be thinking that an Emergency Fund sounds great but you don’t see how to come up with the money for it. Let’s face it, if you had $1,000 just laying around you would have started one already.

The good news is you don’t have to have all of it at once to get started with many savings accounts. Check with your bank to see what their minimum deposit amount is to avoid any monthly fees. Alternatively, consider opening a bank account with someone like Chime that doesn’t have a minimum deposit amount or monthly fees of any kind.

To come up with the rest, try these tips:

Set Up a Budget

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Nothing makes it easier to find some extra cash than knowing how you are spending it. If you track every dollar, you’ll start to see where you can cut back.

Financial tools like Trim can help you take a look at where you are overspending in addition to helping you negotiate your bills and cancel unwanted subscriptions.

Take these reclaimed dollars and channel them into your Emergency Fund. Wouldn’t it be worth giving up your morning coffee shop trip for a few weeks to not have to deal with the stress of an urgent situation?

Look For an Automatic Savings Program

Sometimes it’s easier to save money when you don’t have to move it into savings to begin with. This is the principle behind bank accounts like Chime. It offers two programs to help you automatically build your savings.

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Chime’s “Save When I Spend” feature, rounds up each purchase to the next highest whole dollar and deposits that amount into your savings account.

Their “Save When I Get Paid” feature allows you to automatically transfer 10 percent of your payment directly into savings. It simply skips your spending account. This can really help you build up your emergency fund and Chime members enrolled in both are saving $3,000 a year on average.

No matter how you get there, an Emergency Fund can not only reduce your stress, but it can save you money too. You won’t have to resort to expensive payday or title loans or ask your in-laws for a helping hand. Sometimes just the feeling of knowing it’s there can boost your morale and allow you to rest easy.