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The Emergency Fund You CAN Have

Posted on June 26, 2013
By Nikki Martinez

The hubby and I have been busy watching and listening to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University series (thanks to the Harper’s btw), so it’s a common thing to hear him say, “Live like no one else, so you can LIVE like no one else.” The thought behind this is that what’s “normal” spending habits in America today should not be normal…but we’ve made it that way, so everyone seems to be in debt. So if you go against the norm of America, save and spend smartly, in the future you could be able to enjoy your money a little more.

Sometimes, the easiest thing to get to this point is an emergency fund. I know, doesn’t sound possible, but it’s something EVERYONE should have. Thanks to Michele Lerner at “The Savings Experiment,” here are a few tips that can get you rolling on that extra money for those future “Uh-oh’s.”

Get a temp or part-time job. It’s the most straightforward way to bring home some extra cash.

Offer your services to parents or pet owners. Responsible, reliable babysitters, pet sitters, and house sitters are hot commodities in many areas.

Sell your stuff on Craigslist or at a yard sale. If you’ve got clothes, computer equipment, musical instruments, or just about anything that you’re never going to use again, you can usually find a buyer.

Pawn your jewelry. If you have items of particular value, you can pawn them for a loan or just to get the cash.

Scrounge for stuff to sell. While you may not want to dig through a dumpster, people often leave valuable items out for pickup on trash day that you can turn into cash.

Rent out your car or your parking space. You can bring in cash by letting other people drive your car through sites like RelayRides and JustShareIt, or rent out your space with ParkingPanda.

Sell your blood plasma or your hair. You can sell the plasma from your blood as often as twice a week. If you have long and lush hair, you can sell that too.
Reducing your expenses can also help you find the money to sweep as little as $100 or month or 10 percent or more of your income into a savings account. To save more, try these ideas:

Consolidate your savings. It may be just psychological, but keeping an eye on all your funds in one place can increase your savings discipline. Instead of tracking your money in multiple accounts, you can focus on just one.

Go on a 30-day spending diet. Little expenses like your daily latte, medium-cost items like a weekly pedicure, and splurges like theater tickets all cut into the money you have available for savings. Try a one-month “no spending” diet and eliminate everything but essential expenses to give your savings a big boost.

Quit your vices. The website CostofYourVices.com asks you how much you spend on things like smoking, drinking, buying lottery tickets, and eating burgers to estimate your annual spending. Skipping a daily lottery ticket can save you $365 a year and even switching from soda to tap water can save hundreds.

Bring in a roommate. Splitting the rent with someone else for a year or two makes a big difference in your cash flow. You can also occasionally bring in paying guests if you have a spare room to rent, with sites like Airbnb.com.

Bargain-shop for clothes, groceries, and household items. Even if you’re not ready to be a couponing queen, you can save by watching for sales and trying out consignment stores and flea markets.

Do an annual financial checkup. Get out all your insurance policies, your cable bill, your Internet bill, and your phone bill at least once a year and find out if you can save money on your services. Even if you’re paying small service fees for, say, upgraded TV channels, Spotify, and Netflix every month, see how much you can save by eliminating the services you don’t really use.