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Your washing machine. Your car. Your front tooth.
If any of those broke right now, would you be able to get it fixed immediately? Or would you have to walk around with a gap in your smile for months until you could get the money together?
If you can’t afford to pay to fix it today, you’re not alone. According to a 2020 Bankrate survey, only 41% of Americans could cover a financial emergency with savings. Even worse? These types of emergencies happen to 28% of people — and the average unexpected expense is about $3,500, the survey says.
That’s why it’s so important to have an emergency fund. Don’t know how to get there? Having a budget (that you actually stick to) can help you get there. Here’s one budgeting strategy we recommend, and four other tips that can help you keep your expenses in line.
1. The 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule
The 50/30/20 rule is one of the simplest budgeting methods out there, which is why you’ve probably heard us talk about it before if you’re a regular TPH reader. There are no fancy spreadsheets or pricy apps to download (unless you want to), and it’s very straightforward.
Here’s how it shakes out: 50% of your monthly take home income goes to your essentials — your rent, your groceries, your minimum debt payments, and other necessities. 30% of your cash goes to the fun stuff, and 20% is dedicated to your financial goals. That could be paying more than the minimum on your debts or adding to your investments. And it definitely includes building up your emergency fund!
If you take a look at your budget and realized you don’t have enough leftover to contribute to your emergency fund, here are a few ways to help balance your budget:
2. Cut Nearly $500 From One Of Your Must-Have Bills
You’re probably overpaying the bills you have to pay each month. But you can cut those expenses down, without sacrificing anything. Maybe even enough to cover that window your kid just smashed with a ball. Definitely enough to grow your emergency fund a meaningful amount.
So, when’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $489 a year.
Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
3. Earn Up to $225 in Easy, Extra Cash
If we told you you could get free money just for watching videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh. It’s too good to be true, right? But we’re serious. You can really add up to a few hundred bucks to your emergency savings with some mindless entertainment.
A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.
All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.
InboxDollars won’t make you rich, but it’s possible to get up to $225 per month watching these videos. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.
It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started.
4. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month
Just by paying the minimum amount on your credit cards, you are extending the life of your debt exponentially — not to mention the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars you’re wasting on interest payments. You could be using that money to beef up your emergency savings, instead.
The truth is, your credit card company is happy to let you pay just the minimum every month. It’s getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to nearly 30%. But a website called AmOne wants to help.
If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 2.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
5. Get a Side Gig And Make More Money
Let’s face it — if your monthly income is less than what your monthly expenses are (and you’ve run out of things to cut), you need more money.
Well, we all could use more money. And by earning a little bit extra each month, we could make sure we’re never taken by surprise when an ER visit tries to drain our savings.
Luckily, earning money has never been easier with the rise of the “Gig Economy”. Here are 31 simple ways to make money online. Which one could you do to pad your emergency savings?
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.