Living paycheck-to-paycheck, barely making progress paying down debts, making financial progress inch by painfully slow inch. Or, not making headway at all.
Because I have so been there.
I started out really wanting to make progress. My goal was to build an emergency fund cushion for financial peace-of-mind. I would set aside money at the end of the month, eventually that money would begin to accumulate in my savings account, and then something would pop up, my credit card bill was higher for the month, my cat needed to go to the vet, those shoes were just too cute to resist. And all that hard savings work would disappear.
There always seemed to be something. Some random expense that would wipe out all my hard work.
Thankfully, those days are long past. Now, I can buy a used car with cash rather than taking out a new loan. And when said “new” used car suddenly needs a new engine, I’m able to shell out the extra cash to keep it running. All because I finally learned how to build an emergency fund for these unexpected financial emergencies.
I can write about how important an emergency fund is until my fingers are numb and I need a new keyboard. But will you actually be able to create one?
I don’t want to just tell you to go out and start saving money. You know you wish you had a that emergency stash of cash.
What you need are the tools to take action, start successfully saving, and finally start seeing results.
In this article I will cover the top 3 things you need to do in order to finally start saving money and building your emergency fund.
#1: Understand your personal why.
This might seem trivial, but there’s a reason it’s #1. Take the time to dig deep and think about why personal finance is important to you. What does having a savings buffer mean to you? Freedom of choice? Freedom to leave an abusive relationship? The ability to pursue other career options? More time with family?
This can be as easy as being able to walk into Whole Foods and buying the makings for an amazing dinner without feeling guilty that you’re spending more than $2/person. Or, it can be as impactful as just wanting the peace of mind that a savings cushion grants you.
But this reason is different for everyone.
Your personal why is going to keep you motivated to make the right spending decisions and stay focused on your financial goals.
#2: Map out HOW you will do this
Now this step is a little harder and could take some time to work on. But it is time well invested. If you don’t already have a substantial emergency savings fund, what can you do now to create one?
Side note: How much do you need in an emergency fund?
By substantial, I mean 3-6 months of living expenses. Whatever you spend every single month, multiply that by at least 3. More if you feel like you may have unexpected loss of job or large expenses. Less if you have great job security and the ability to cut back drastically if a large expense popped up.
Here’s the breakdown of my personal emergency fund:
- $2,000 to $3,000 in a standard savings account that I can access instantly
- 4 months worth of living expenses in a high interest online savings account that can be accessed within a few days
- Any additional funds go to a personal investment account with Vanguard and can be accessed by selling stocks if necessary
Save for later by adding this post to your favorite Pinterest board!
Create your savings plan
If you are starting from no plan at all, start tracking your spending, get a feel for where your money goes every month, and then create your budget. This will tell you how much to allocate to debt payoff and savings every month. Then, automate everything!
You should feel like you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, even though you aren’t! Money comes in, then it has a place to go.
If you want a cleaner way to step through this process, with all the info organized step-by-step, check out the 7 Steps to a Financial Clean House email course.
Better yet, check out the Master Your Money Super Bundle which includes the 7 Steps to a Financial Clean House course, along with so many other resources to help you budget, save and organize your finances.
It’s really important to understand that sometimes spending money now will help you save more money down the road. This is one of those products.
#3: Patience and the right mindset
Personal finance is a never ending process.
I have made tremendous headway and I still work on this every single month. There is always room for improvement and adjustment. You WILL make money mistakes along your personal journey. And that is okay!
You WILL go over budget sometimes!
You WILL have unexpected expenses that set you back!
You WILL have months where you say “F-it! I’m spending money on this because it makes me happy!”
You WILL feel defeated sometimes and frustrated that it’s taking too long to achieve your financial goals!
This is all okay! Learning to manage your money and achieve your personal financial goals is a marathon, not a sprint.
The important thing is that you give yourself the grace to learn.
Learn from your mistakes, learn how to make improvements. And be patient because this is a marathon.
It will take time. Be patient, celebrate the small wins along your journey, and keep that marathon mindset that you WILL make progress and you WILL achieve your goals. Just. Keep. Going.
- Download the checklist
- Write down 5 reasons why you need an emergency fund. Include how your life will be different once you have a solid emergency fund and why it is so important to you achieve this financial goal.
- Map out your plan to save money for your emergency fund. Do you need more tools and education? Do you need to track your money create a budget? Get detailed here and figure out how you will free up the extra money and start setting it aside for this specific purpose.
- Be patient. Be kind to yourself through this process. Keep your why front and center so you can stay motivated and maintain the right mindset that this is important, you can do this, and it will take time. This is a marathon, you will make mistakes, but you can keep going.