Five Ways to Build an Emergency Savings Fund (without really trying)

You don’t have to make big sacrifices to start stashing cash for surprise expenses

When you’re balancing paying bills with trying to meet multiple savings goals, putting away extra cash to build up an emergency fund might feel impossible. But an emergency fund is the key to staying on track with all of your goals.

Having a pot that you can dip into for unexpected expenses, like a home repair or medical bill, can help you avoid using cash you’ve set aside for retirement — or racking up a credit card bill you won’t be able to pay off quickly. So where will you find that extra cash to start your emergency fund? Here are a handful of easy ways to boost your savings.

1. Choose water

The daily coffee you get on your way into work is one of life’s small luxuries — and no matter what the pundits say, you don’t have to give it up to gain financial security. But skipping soda or iced tea when you buy meals out can really cut down on your dining expenses over time. Try drinking water with lunch to save a few dollars every time you grab takeout with colleagues.

2. Conserve energy

Turning off lights and other electronics before leaving a room is a simple way to lower your utility bill. Light timers and motion-detecting nightlights can also be a good option if you need to illuminate a dark room but don’t want to leave a lamp on all night long.

3. Ask for deals

Cable, cellphone and internet providers often run promotions that can save you money — but only if you ask. Call to find out about the latest offers, and remember to call again just before a promotion expires to see if you can sign up for another deal.

4. Cancel unused subscriptions

Between streaming services, gym memberships, and all the apps on your phone and tablet, there are more subscription services than ever before. And it’s possible you’re signed up — and paying — for a few you don’t actually use. Review your subscriptions and consider whether there are any you could do without.

5. Save spare change

Make saving a fun family challenge by setting up a jar where everyone can deposit loose change. Not only does a change jar give you a reason to clean out messy drawers and backpacks, it also sends an important message to kids about the value of money.

Growing an emergency fund doesn’t have to mean making major lifestyle changes. If you start with these small steps and keep it up, you’ll have a healthy savings cushion that helps protect your other goals.

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