5 Simple Ways to Boost Your Emergency Fund

easy ways to boost your emergency fund
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What's an emergency fund? It's extra money you put aside to keep life moving smoothly whatever happens to jump in your path.

Emergency money can be set aside to help with unexpected job loss, car problems, medical issues or any number of other big-ticket items. Sometimes something completely unexpected like a pet surgery can knock out your discretionary funds. Instead of racking up debt that you may have trouble paying back, establishing an emergency fund can help to prevent your emergency situation from becoming a full-blown financial crisis. A good rule of thumb is three to six months of living expenses. So, start small and grow your money. Here are a few tips to get your emergency fund started:

  1. Plan ahead for road trips. Many times we end up spending money because we neglect to plan. Pack snacks for the road before you and your family head out the door. Taking a couple of minutes to pack healthy snacks could save you money if the alternative is purchasing a fast food meal for each family member. Plus, by bringing your own food, you'll be in control of what you and your family eat and will be able to take better care of both your physical and financial health.
  2. Don't grocery shop without a list and plan. Your grocery store has many choices available. If you shop with your eyes or your stomach rather your carefully composed list, you may end up spending a lot more as you wander through the aisles. Stay in control of your shopping, and keep your eyes open for good deals on things you need (not just want), and you'll probably end up saving. And, don't forget to use your Freedom Check Card when you shop – those end-of-the-year rewards could make a great addition to your emergency fund.
  3. Brown bag it. Packing a lunch may seem like a very small and simple task. However, for many of us, it's easier to grab something from the vending machine or go out with co-workers than to pack a lunch before leaving home. However, the average lunch out costs somewhere between $5 and $10. If you skipped just one a week, think about how much you could possibly save in the course of a year! That money can be diverted to your emergency fund and can make a big contribution to your "financial backup plan."
  4. Budget. This tip may seem like a no-brainer but many people don't take the time to figure out what they can afford before heading to the cash register. Planning a budget will help you to feel more comfortable with your spending, as well as help you to figure out what you can afford to spend on each product, service or bill. You can find some user-friendly templates in Excel and Google Docs.
  5. Stash it. You can build your emergency fund by making transfers from your checking to your savings account each month. With just a few simple steps in NetBranch Online, you can make transfers between your account as soon as you get paid. You'll barely notice that you're saving, but the money will be there when you need it.