How to Budget for an Emergency
An unfortunate economic reality nowadays, is that most Americans don’t have all that much in their savings - should some kind of catastrophic event or emergency occur. The good news is that budgeting for an emergency doesn’t have to break the bank, and you can make it fit with your own personal household income and needs.
There are many different ways you can put some extra funds aside that will help to start or increase the amount of funds in your emergency account. Here are just a few:
- Cut utility costs. If you live in a warm climate, consider opening the windows after dark and switching off the air conditioner. If you live in a cold climate, it’s always a good decision to winterize your home and help keep warm air inside and cold air outside. Turn off lights and appliances when you leave a room.
- Carpool to work or anywhere else possible. If you have kids, develop a schedule where one parent takes the kids to baseball practice one day, and then the next the other day. If you live in an area with mass transit, consider taking the bus. Gasoline is expensive, and cutting down on the amount of driving you do can add up to some significant savings.
- Make a detailed shopping list of everything you need before you go to the store. One of the biggest waste that households waste money is by buying more food than they need and ending up throwing things out. Develop a meal prep plan that everyone likes, and stick to it. Consider scheduling your meal prep time and shopping trips for the same day. This way, you’ll cook everything fresh that day, then be good to go for the week and not have to worry about making dinner after a long day.
- Speaking of home-cooking… Cook more meals at home in general, and dine out less. Not only is this a great way to spend some quality time with your family, but you’ll also be saving money in the process. If you have little ones and they are feeling up to it, teaching them basic cooking skills can be a valuable thing to learn in life in general, but especially in an emergency.
- Don’t forget about the coupons. Most grocery stores and retail locations have some kind of frequent shopper card that will send you money-savers right to your email or print out when you’ve checked out. These savings can add up to more than you think.
- Stop buying fancy, expensive coffee drinks every day. Instead, buy an inexpensive coffee press and make some at home before you leave the house.
The harsh reality is that some people will never have enough leftover in their monthly budget to afford to add a significant amount to their emergency fund. However, with a bit of practice and cutting some unnecessary expenses, you might find that you have more to save for an emergency than you originally thought you did.
Stash it Where You Can’t Easily See It and Don’t Touch It
If all else fails, consider taking any kind of funds and opening up a separate savings account specifically dedicated to putting away money for emergencies. Choose another financial institution other than the one you normally bank with, to avoid any kind of temptation of spending your precious emergency fund. If you add savings to the account you typically use, this can be an effective strategy to stop buying any kind of unnecessary items. Most of us aren’t economists who are stellar with money, so keeping that money in a new account can help you avoid having it burn a hole in your pocket. Most people amaze themselves at how rapidly they can grow their emergency funds, or savings in general, by just putting aside $5 or $10 a week. Even those of us on the tightest of budgets can make better financial decisions to help grow our emergency funds.
Don’t Forget the Water and Food Storage Items
Believe it or not, one way you can help build your emergency fund is to purchase freeze dried food with a long shelf life. Rather than purchasing a ton of canned goods that you might never use and eventually throw out after two or three years, purchasing a food storage container will last you 25 years, making it an economical choice for those of us restricted to a tight budget. You can’t put a price tag on that kind of peace of mind. You can also purchase long term water storage containers that will last you up to five years, instead of worrying about cases of water.
At More Prepared, we are committed to helping people start or improve their emergency survival kits and items - whether that be putting extra money away, or finding food and water storage solutions. Survival kits make great school fundraisers. We also offer custom kits if you have special requests. If you have any questions, request a catalog or call us today.