Nearly 30 percent of Americans have no emergency fund in place, according to Bankrate\’s Financial Security Index. While just about everyone knows it\’s a good idea to have money saved up in case of emergency, it can be hard to do, what with your student loan debt, credit card bills, new apartment, clothes for work and social life. But without one, you could be one missed paycheck or unexpected emergency away from financial disaster. We\’re going to help you build one.
Set a Budget
You won\’t ever know what you\’re really earning or spending without a solid budget in place. An app like iReconcile ($2.99 for iOS) comes with a built-in check register, online backup and budget tracker tool. Set up the app to budget for rent, outstanding debt, transportation, groceries, coffee and beer. Add in a new category to budget for emergency fund savings. Even a $100 a month over the course of a year could cover a car repair or emergency travel for an illness in the family.
Take the Long View
It\’s tempting to ignore your debt and strict budget and sign a lease on a spacious apartment with all the latest gadgets. Instead of renting a one-bedroom apartment by yourself, consider a studio or sharing an apartment with roommates for a few years to lower your costs.
Earn a Side Income
Young adults are usually on the bottom of the salary food chain. It\’s difficult to consider saving three to six months\’ worth of living expenses for an emergency fund when you\’re just trying to make ends meet. Taking on a side gig like landscaping, pet sitting, tutoring or errand-running is a good way to save up extra cash quickly. If you live in an urban area, advertise your parking space, garage or storage area for extra side income. Parking spaces near stadiums or venues, airports and cruise ports are also in demand
Keep this extra money in an account that makes it difficult to withdraw impulsively at a local ATM. An online account like Capital One 360 frequently offers cash back sign-on bonuses and can\’t be simply withdrawn from at a moment\’s notice.
If you receive regular payments from an annuity or structured settlement, consider selling some or all of them for a lump sum now, to give yourself an emergency cushion or to pay down your student loan debt. You can use the lump sum toward paying off your student debt. Or, you can also sell your structured settlement payments and reinvest the money, if you so desire.
It takes some creativity to juggle an emergency fund while paying down student debt and managing living expenses, but with some ingenuity, a financial cushion is within reach.
Author Bio:Gloria is a financial planner from the Midwest.