Want to take control of your money for good?
You already know this advice: Get out of debt. And we’re totally on board with this plan. But first, you need a starter emergency fund. Just $1,000 in the bank provides you with all kinds of financial protection.
When you’re holding $1,000 before getting out of debt, you can avoid taking on new debt. So when life tries to mess with you—your tire goes flat, your kid gets sick, the pipe under your sink bursts—you’re ready. You can easily pay what you owe and move on to more important things like knocking out that debt.
Of course, maybe you’re wondering, How on earth am I going to make $1,000?Don’t worry. We’ve got plenty of ideas. If you’re willing to get a bit radical, you’ll not only make $1,000, but you’ll make it fast!
Save Money by Managing It Well
1. Start budgeting. Want to hear something cool? The first time you create an EveryDollar budget you’ll probably find money you didn’t know you had. Seriously. Without a budget we often spend money carelessly. After a few dollars here or a couple twenties there, we have no idea where our money went.
With a budget, you give every dollar a name. And one of the top names on that list should be your $1,000 emergency fund. Decide how much money you can save each month and do that first. Then tell the rest of your money where to go.
Save Money by Cutting Your Spending
2. Drop entertainment, restaurants and unnecessary shopping. Brace yourself for this one. We all have to eat, right? But we don’t have to eat at a restaurant. If you’re serious about gathering $1,000 quickly, consider putting a temporary stop to dining out, visiting the movie theater, and grabbing Friday night drinks with friends.
Be aware of other ways you tend to spend for the sake of fun. Maybe you’re a sports junkie who goes to every home game, or maybe you enjoy a good online shopping spree. Perhaps you like to decorate and redecorate or love to entertain large groups in your home. To save $1,000 fast, look for inexpensive ways to have a good time.
3. Evaluate necessary expenses. Spend some time with your budget. Get acquainted with categories like groceries, clothing, diapers, and gas. We’re talking about areas you can’t cut out but could cut back.
Buy generic brands or store brands for a bit. Try traveling less. If you find a great deal on an item you absolutely need, buy it in bulk. Make a list and stick to it when running errands. You might just surprise yourself with your own creativity in spending less to save more.
4. Re-examine your bills. Most likely your monthly fixed bills are of the “set it and forget it” variety. You chose your plans years ago and just don’t think about them now. Well, it’s time to rethink everything because you have $1,000 to earn!
Log into the online accounts for your cell phone, cable or internet provider, car insurance, life insurance, and gym membership. Investigate how much you pay, the benefits of the service you pay for, and how much you actually use those benefits. Contact a customer service rep or independant insurance agent to negotiate better deals or consider cancelling where you can.
Save Money by Increasing Your Income
5. Get to work. Of course, one of the best ways to save money quickly is to bring home more of it. Talk with your boss, if needed, for approval to work overtime. Increasing your hours temporarily may be just the boost you need.
You might consider taking on a job after work or on the weekends. Many people find success with a side business, using a site like Etsy to sell their creations. The practice of earning extra income will serve you well through all of the Baby Steps.
6. Offer your services. Maybe you’d like to keep things simple as you work to earn more cash. By offering services to your neighbors and community, you can control your schedule and the amount you bring in.
Get the word out online, like through your local Facebook group. You might babysit, do yard work, clean homes, organize basements, help with errands, or make dinner. Aim for any task people need, but don’t want to do—or simply don’t have the time to do. That’s where your extra money is!
7. Declutter. There’s something powerful about resetting your priorities. When you decide to take control of your money and save $1,000 for an emergency fund, other things start to look less important. And by “things,” we mean stuff.
Dig around in your garage, attic and closets for stuff you haven’t seen or used in a while. Can you sell any of it? Put up a post online! There are tons of websites dedicated to helping you sell your stuff. You can even drop off items at your local consignment shop for quick cash or host a garage sale.
Save Money by Getting Radical
8. Sell your car. Crazy, right? Here’s the thing: You might be driving around town in your emergency fund. Take a good look at your ride to see if you could get by with an older or smaller vehicle.
If so, give her one last wash and say your goodbyes. Purchase reliable transportation on the cheap, and you may even have enough to put away $1,000 and jump-start your debt payoff plan.
9. Halt savings in other areas. Yep, we said it. To really bust through the Baby Steps, you’ll need laser focus. And right now, your focus should be on saving $1,000.
Put a pause on retirement contributions and saving for your children’s college fund. Don’t worry about paying your home off early (not yet anyway). And do your best to limit the amount you save for Christmas, birthdays and family vacations.
10. Believe in yourself. The tips and tricks above work, but only if you do. The folks who get after it are the ones who see the biggest—and quickest—return on their efforts. You can do it! Believe in yourself! Make a plan for building your emergency fund and trust that you’ll have the willpower to follow through and then actually follow through.