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8 Techniques to Boost Your Emergency Fund

Just starting an emergency fund as a part of a New Year’s resolution? Trying to boost an existing one? No worries: the following guest post has you covered with some great tips on how to find a little cash for your “rainy day fund.”

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.

About the Author: Kris is a personal finance writer with a background in business management who blogs for CreditCardCompare.com.au, an Australian credit card comparison website offering a wide range of reward credit cards that help make ends meet. When he isn’t working, which isn’t often, Kris enjoys spending time with his young family.

13 responses to “8 Techniques to Boost Your Emergency Fund”

  1. TheMoneyMan-Leo

    To expand on #6 a bit.

    I’ve used freelance workers from elance.com, rentacoder.com and mturk.com.

    Elance and RAC…it will probably take you some time to make money there…it’s a bidding process. Mturk you can earn the money pretty quickly but it will be a small amount and not sure how often you get paid.

    If you want to offer lawn care services and the like simply send postcards to 100-300 of you neighbors. Tell them you are available to mow the lawn, clean the pool, shovel the sidewalk, rake the leaves, move furniture and anything else that is legal.

    I did this several years ago a couple young family friends and they got phone calls immediately. We addressed each postcard like this:

    To Our Neighbors at
    123 Main St.
    Anytown, NY 12345

    Don’t waste your time trying to get names to put on a postcard. “To Our Neighbors at” works just fine.

    Walk along the streets near your home making note of house numbers. No need to pay for a mailing list.

    If you print the postcards at home you can mail 100 for less than $35.

    If you do this consistently, you should have a pretty good little business or source of extra income relatively quickly.

    Be sure to get the e-mail address of all your customers so you can reach them in the future.

    As the leaves start to fall, you can send an e-mail reminding them that you are available to rake the leaves. Encourage them to let their neighbors know about you as well.

    Good luck!

  2. John Hunter

    Great goal. I must say I think reducing expenses (say cutting your phone bill, cable bill, mowing bill…) and reducing the amount of stuff you buy (just buy less stuff) are the best methods.

    Freelance is great if you can actually make it work. It is not as easy as just deciding ok now I want to start raking in a bunch of money for 5 hours every week.

  3. Tom

    Great write up. Here are some tips that have worked for me and are very easy to do IMO.

    1 buy in bulk.. things like paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, soup, … anything that will last long and is easy to store.

    2 bring lunch to work. i used to eat out a lot and it was a huge waste of money.

    3 set a daily budget and only spend that much per day. I used to not care / track my daily spending and realized i was spending a ton of money on things like energy drinks, snacks, food… now i dont .. i just purchase those things at a grocery store and bring them with me.

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  5. Mike @ Antique Reproductions

    To further Tom’s comment…
    When it come to saving on your groceries (and meat esp) the freezer is your best friend.

    I buy enough pork roasts to fill my small freezer when they go on special and slice them into pork chops.

    Buy some fruit from a corner store, and you save on gas cause you will be going to the big box grocery store less often.

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  7. Lloyd

    The best way to save??

    Don’t leave the house! As soon as I step out of the front door I might as well burn a 10er with my lighter!

    On a more serious note….I saved loads each year by becoming a fully qualified carpenter. Now I do it all myself by following a simple carpentry guide

  8. MILTON

    WEAK… none of that shit saves me money. ur telling people to work harder and spend less. fuck that shit

    1. Stephanie

      Tell me more about this alternate universe where increased earnings and decreased spending does not lead to saved money!

    2. Janet

      @Milton: Just like they say in AA- It works IF you work it.

  9. CJ

    This is a lame, generic article.

    1. Stephanie

      Anyone is welcome to submit a guest post for consideration for the blog – if you have something to contribute that you feel hasn’t been well-covered, I would certainly be happy to consider it! Just use the contact page to submit any ideas you might have, CJ.

  10. bob

    Hey guys, great article on how to save yourself a bit of extra money looks like theres some pretty solid advice here. To further your point of saving money on utilities, I found this website all about reducing your electricity usuage and reducing your power bill remarkably, it’s got some pretty reliable, easy to follow info there. If you wanna check it out it’s right here