One of the best things you can do for your family’s financial success in debt paying and budgeting is to have an emergency fund in place. Dave Ramsey recommends having a $1,000 emergency fund in place until you have your debt paid off, and then you can build up a more significant emergency fund.
A lot of people complain that a $1,000 fund isn’t enough in case of emergencies and that it should be higher.
But here are my thoughts on this-
$1,000 cash in your emergency fund should cover most (if not all) down payments for things. With proper budgeting, you can make do with this amount, for the time being.
Say you have a car wreck and need to pay your deductible before it can be fixed, you have it and enough money to pay out of pocket for needs (new car seats or pain reliever prescriptions not covered by insurance.)
A lot of professional practices will allow you to make payments but require some upfront down payment. You fall off your bike, teeth hit the concrete, and now you need implants or a bridge. Unexpected job loss or invasive medical testing to figure out why you’re so exhausted and dizzy.
While a $1,000 emergency fund will not cover everything and won’t cover the final bill, it IS enough to help and make a difference.
It’s enough to keep you from pulling out a credit card or loan, so you don’t go into debt during this crisis.
It’s enough to help you feel a little stress relief but not enough to make you feel complacent.
The larger your emergency fund, the higher the chances you are to either:
- A) spend it all impulsively on something frivolous
- B) start living a more daredevil lifestyle and taking more risks because “you have it covered.”
So that being said, here are 20 helpful ways you can earn that $1000 FAST!
Brew your own coffee
Americans, on average, spend about $3 a day on coffee. My venti peppermint mochas with almond milk cost over $6! $3 a day x 365 days a year =$1,095 you’re spending unless you’re me in which case you could be wasting twice that.
This is a big reason why Starbucks is a “sometimes” treat and not an everyday thing. Saving money and brewing my coffee at home helps to save me a ton of money.
Simply cut out the middleman for a month or two, and you’ll save up to $360.
Turn off TV
Your TV uses electricity, whether you are actively watching it or not. You can get a good idea of the math involved with kilowatts and technical stuff by looking at the charts and detailed descriptions provided here.
No more leaving the TV on when you do a quick errand or leaving it on overnight to keep the dogs’ company.
Turn off lights
Better yet, do one better and switch out your light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.
Switch to LED lights
This site has a really great (and eye-opening) post about which lightbulbs cost less to operate. Using LED lights is a great way to save money on your electric bill every month and they last much longer than a standard bulb too.
Buy a power strip to stop vampire electronics
Vampire is a term used for electronics due to how they continue to draw power (and suck your money) as they remain off, but are still plugged in. By using a power strip like this one, you can just push a button and turn off the power usage.
It’s also essential to make sure that your power strip has a surge protector! Just because I learned this lesson the hard way, doesn’t mean you should too.
Turn the house temp down 2 degrees in winter or up 2 in summer
I learned this tip from an HVAC installation and repairman. I actually saw a difference in our Tennessee home by about $10 during the most extreme temperature months.
Also, if you do adjust your temp at all, never do it by more than 2 degrees at a time, to prevent a surge of “emergency power” trying to make it quicker. This feature, while convenient for you, also costs more to do.
Pack your lunch
$5 a day x 5 days a week is $25 a week you could be saving. Making leftovers into lunch, a sandwich, or some other frugal meal plan in place could save you about $100 a month!
No buying bottles of water
Bottled water, while cheap in larger packs, is 1) bad for the environment and 2) money you could be saving. Unless you turn them all back in for recycling plastic money, I don’t recommend buying plastic bottled water at all.
Call cable and phone providers and ask for discounts
Most people don’t know that if you call your cable and phone providers to talk about lowering your costs or ending service, they will provide you with a deal or discount to avoid losing you as a customer. While it may not be a considerable discount, any discount certainly adds up.
If you are a low income family receiving WIC or EBT, you can qualify for discounted services too!
Don’t use dryer sheets, try wool balls
Not only do wool balls help dry your laundry faster, but they also save you money. Most wool balls are suitable for up to 1000 loads or more, hypoallergenic, and aren’t full of chemicals or perfumes like standard dryer sheets.
Use less laundry detergent
Sometimes the adage ‘less is more’ is very accurate. Laundry detergent often gets overused and doesn’t make clothes any more clean than, say, using half that amount. For heavily soiled items such as work clothes, try adding a cup of baking soda versus excess detergent.
Use rebate apps
Rebate apps, such as Ibotta and Receipt Hog, are great for saving on many things, and most can be used by merely scanning your shopping receipts. Who doesn’t like hassle-free ways to save money?
Get someone to sign up using your referral links on the rebate apps
Not only can you start earning money on rebate apps by merely signing up yourself, but you can also make money for every person that signs up through your unique referral link.
Coupons are a great way to save money whether you clip them from inserts, download store coupons, or print them from apps. Coupons.com is an excellent resource for all your couponing needs.
Use grocery pick up and have a meal plan so you don’t impulse buy or go over budget
Walmart Grocery Pick Up has become my new best friend, and here’s why. I can resist impulse buys by strategically planning my purchases while avoiding large instore crowds. I also get to price shop on items from the quietness of my own home and schedule a slot to pick-up at my convenience.
Buying generics can save you money and has become increasingly better in quality over the years, giving name brands a run for their money. Some generic brands are even made by the big name companies!
Cancel or pause subscriptions for 1 or 2 months
Whether it’s a streaming platform or gift box subscription, you can save by choosing to cancel or pause your subscription. Often when you do this, the service will offer a deal or discount to keep your subscription active.
Weatherproof your home
Insulating your home can save you money year-round by downsizing your electric bill. Also, some electric companies provide discounts if you use things such as smart thermostats. Weatherproofing can be as simple as putting plastic around the inside of your windows during winter to keep any potential drafts at bay.
Pay in cash and save all loose change
When you use cash, you can physically see your money as you spend it. This helps to stay within budget and prevent overdraft fees. You can also pocket your loose change to put in a savings jar. You’ll be surprised how quickly that loose change adds up.
Don’t shop when hungry
Shopping while hungry can be awful on your wallet as it’s hard to stick to a plan when so many ready to eat options abound the store — don’t do it. Plan your shopping trip after you’ve eaten, so you’re not led into temptation by hunger. A casual stroll around the grocery store after a meal also aids in digestion, which is a win-win.
Do a Fun Money Saving Challenge
Saving money can often feel more like a chore than anything else. When saving money doesn’t feel fun, it can be hard to stay motivated. Consider doing a fun money saving challenge so that you can track your savings and make it into a game rather than a chore.
By following the above tips, you should be well on your way to building your $1000 emergency fund to cover some of life’s curveballs.
Do you have other ways to save money? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!
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