In this risky economic climate, more than two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. With financial emergencies lurking around every corner, are you prepared for “rainy days?”
According to Mint.com, an emergency fund is a major part of financial security. If you loose your job, if your home needs of emergency repairs, or if you have sudden health bills, this emergency fund can help you through tough times. It’ll also give you peace of mind and keep you from making hasty and disastrous financial decisions like borrowing from loved ones, maxing out your credit cards, pawning valuables, or accepting high interest loans.
So, exactly how much do you need to save? A great starting point is $1,000. However, most experts agree that we should have enough in our emergency fund to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses (mortgage/rent, gas, water bill, electricity bill, etc.). Unfortunately, Bankrate’s recent Financial Security Index shows that 49 percent of Americans don’t have enough emergency savings to cover three months.
You’ll need three things to start an emergency fund. First, be sure to keep your emergency money readily accessible, but separate from your regular checking and saving accounts. This will keep you from being tempted to misuse the money. Secondly, consider setting aside a small amount of money every week or month for your emergencies. Lastly, be clear with yourself about what constitutes an emergency and what the funds will be used for.
Here are four quick Mindful Money® tips for rainy days:
- Yard sales. With the start of spring, there’s no better time for a yard sale. You can reduce the amount of clutter in your home and make money for your emergency fund.
- Hobbies and skills. In your spare time use your talents to generate money. For instance, if you’re good at math consider tutoring. If you like knitting consider selling your creations.
- Recycle. You can help save the planet and make a little extra money by collecting recyclables and taking them to recycling centers yourself. Also, don’t forget to collect cans and bottles from your office or local religious center for extra change.
- Jars of pennies. The coins that slip into couches, under car seats, and into dresser drawers can add up quickly. So, if you’re looking for a few extra bucks, do a thorough coin-sweep of your home and car.