When the going gets tough, the tough guys burst into the emergency fund they’ve wisely built up. Ideally, these savings are easy to access and using them won’t break the bank because they serve their exact purpose: to cover you in the event of an unexpected financial crisis.
It is generally advised that we all have a six month emergency fund. But why save more than the amount generally recommended? Isn’t a nest egg of six months or even a year enough?
Unfortunately, the answer is: Maybe not.
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“The future is unpredictable,” said Adrian Tudorache, personal finance editor at Finances today. âLook what the last few years have brought for everyone: the pandemic, supply chain shortages, inflation, the war in Ukraine. Building a sense of security is invaluable these days.
If you can, building a 24-month emergency savings fund can only help you and your loved ones. Here’s how.
Set your monthly budget
It’s time to evaluate your monthly budget, again!
“Take a look at the money coming in and going out to understand your finances on a monthly basis,” said Mary Hines Droesch, head of consumer and small business products at Bank of America.
From there, look for places where you can cut your expenses completely and use that amount to save instead. Can you temporarily forgo multiple streaming services? Do you regularly dine out more than once a week? Once you’ve identified areas of potential savings, build momentum by “paying yourself first” and scheduling automatic transfers to your fund on or around the payday equal to that “money found.”
Follow the 50/30/20 method
“A good rule of thumb for budgeting is to also follow the 50/30/20 method,” Droesch said. “Fifty percent of your after-tax income should cover your needs (rent, groceries, student loans, etc.), 30% should go to wants, and 20% should go to savings. However, since you’re looking to save enough funds to cover a two-year period, consider reassessing your percentages to stay on track to reach your savings goal.
Manage your cash better
âMost of the time we tend to pay our bills all at once, but sometimes that can leave you short and (you) seeking short-term personal loans,â said Paul Sundin, CPA and tax strategist at Estate CPA. “One simple solution you can consider is adjusting your bill due dates to help balance your finances better each month, allowing you to put a little more into your emergency fund.”
Keep funds separate from your other funds
As with any growing nest egg, you’ll want to keep this 24-month fund separate from your other budgeted dollars.
âCreate a separate bank account for your emergency fund to avoid the temptation to spend the money you (save),â said Kelvin Stewart, co-founder of .
Maintain a standard monthly deposit
“You should keep a standard monthly deposit so that no matter what happens to you, you can save comfortably,” said Stella Scott, co-founder of . “This is a crucial step in building a 24-month emergency fund without stretching your budget. It ensures you maintain a precise slice of your savings to reach your due date without extending it, especially if you never miss to deposit the said sum or to set aside an amount less than that required.
Use a Financial Advisor to Invest (and Fight Inflation)
Pouring money into an account is certainly one aspect of building an emergency fund; but, if you’re aiming for two full years of savings, you’ll probably need to consider investing (mainly to fight inflation). It’s a big step. Consider engaging the services of a financial advisor for advice.
“Work with a financial advisor to figure out where you can invest your money and earn more interest than in a savings account,” said Melanie Musson, personal finance expert at ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. âWhile you should have three to six months of funds available instantly, savings beyond that should not sit in a bank account. You will lose money each month with inflation, and there is no no advantage to compensate for this loss.
Bring back more money
If you’re barely getting by as is and can’t afford to set aside much of your monthly income, a side hustle might be imperative.
“If you want to save even more money, consider increasing your income,” said Samantha Hawrylack, personal finance expert and co-founder of How to shoot. “That could mean taking a part-time job or looking for ways to earn some extra cash on the side. The more money you can bring in, the faster your emergency fund will grow.
Look for overtime opportunities
âIf your workplace allows it, working overtime at your current job is a more effective way to earn more money than working a second job,â said Shaun Myers, founder of Zero debt. “Overtime pays more and you’ll save time commuting to another job.”
Use Round-Up services to help you
“You can enjoy apps that complement your purchases,” said Jon Dulin, founder of Smart Money Guides. âThere are even banks that will do it for you too. Basically, when you spend, say, $24.35, your purchase is rounded up and $0.65 is transferred from your checking account to a savings account. Although the amount may not seem like a lot, it adds up over time. Last year I saved $750 doing this.
Consider a credit union
â(An) important step to take is to start saving in a place that has your best interests at heart,â said Jenna Carson, financial partner at lucid money. âMy advice is to save with a credit union â a member-run organization that cares about its customers because it’s not driven by profits. These organizations (often) offer a higher percentage return on your savings compared to a bank. Â»
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