In this harsh economic environment, there is hardly a better time to have a reserve stash of cash. A well-established emergency fund can mean the ability to make it smoothly through a job loss, health issue, car problem or other unforeseen personal crisis, as opposed to having to take on substantial debt, encountering costly delays or worse. If you’ve decided it’s time to prepare for the worst, while at the same time building some peace of mind, here are a few tips to help you boost your emergency fund.
1. Sell Off Old Stuff
Reselling old stuff is a great way to supply your emergency fund. Whether it’s books, CDs, DVDs, clothes, antiques and old comic books, or whatever, there are plenty of sources of cash among your unused or unwanted items. Check your local neighborhoods for specialty shops that will buy lightly used cloths, books, and similar wares, or hit the internet for online companies that will purchase these types of items. They may even pay your shipping to send them in!
2. Auction Off On eBay
Selling your stuff on eBay can be a great side project to fund your emergency stash. The beauty is that you can sell just about anything on eBay: from all sorts of odds and ends to antiques and even gift cards and coupons it’s all fair game. If you aren’t a big eBay seller or don’t want to bother with the work to set up an account, consider taking stuff to an eBay store, and let them do the work for you. Beware though, they will take a commission on the stuff they sell for you and will typically only take items of higher value to make listing them worthwhile.
3. Reduce Expenses
The best way to save is not to spend. Try taking the money you might spend on more frivolous items like gourmet coffee, clothing, or dinners out, and set it aside for a month or two to begin your emergency fund.
4. Cut the Cost of Utilities
Another great way to save for a rainy day is through your utility expenditures. Make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of electricity or natural gas you use each month by turning off lights and using heaters and ceiling fans rather than the furnace or air conditioner. You might also consider reducing your cable package and put your monthly savings toward your emergency fund.
5. Pick Up Extra Hours
In the current economic environment, many employers don’t want to hire more people. Hiring new employees is costly since they require employers to pay more in benefits, it takes time and money to train them, and there is no guarantee that they’ll end up working out. Many employers would rather use the staff they already have, which could be an opportunity for you to pick up extra hours and earn additional income that can be set aside for later.
6. Seek Freelance Work
If you don’t see any other way to compile an emergency fund, consider putting your skills to use. Whether your talent lies in carpentry, home cleaning, childcare, writing, tutoring, artistry, or lawn care, there are often needs for all sorts of services and skills that you might have. Check Craigslist, online classifieds or wanted ads in your local paper for services required. This supplemental income might not make you rich but it can be a great way to build up an emergency fund.
7. Do It Yourself and Save
Do it yourself projects can save you big money – money that can be put into your emergency stash. Cutting your own grass, sealing your own asphalt driveway, painting your own home, shoveling your own snow, and doing a variety of other household tasks yourself can help you save, and in many instances, keep you healthy as well.
8. Spare Change
While that extra change you have sitting in your car or in the jar on your dresser might not seem like much, you may be surprised. It can add up quickly. I recently took my in-laws’ change jars in to the bank for them. They were stunned when I came back with two empty canning jars and just over $220 in cash. The great thing about keeping your emergency fund in the form of change is that you’ll typically only go to the trouble of taking it to the bank if there is an actual emergency. It’s just too much trouble, and a tad embarrassing, otherwise.