The Fastest Way to Rebuild Your Savings
A savings account is a safeguard against unexpected expenses — after all, emergencies never strike when it’s convenient. If you’ve used up all of your savings, rebuilding your financial safety net as soon as possible is an important priority. Katie Ross, education and development manager for American Consumer Credit Counseling at ConsumerCredit.com, suggests using a five-point plan to get your savings back in shape.
- Reevaluate Your Budget
Using a budget is always a good way to ensure you are saving money, but it's even more important when you're dealing with a financial emergency. "Once you’ve depleted your emergency cash," Ross says, "it’s more important than ever to make sure that you’re spending responsibly and looking for more areas where you can cut costs."
If you have been using Quicken Starter Edition, your budget is already done, based on your current spending habits. Look at each category and sub-category to find where you can cut down on spending and automatically see how much you will save in the next month when you do make those cuts.
- Cut Expenses
"Cut expenses as much as possible," Ross advises. "Look at how your funds are dispersed each month and determine if there are a few more things you can live without until you’ve reestablished your emergency fund." Cutting your cable subscription, bringing a lunch to work and limiting other entertainment expenses is a good way to increase savings dramatically, she notes.
- Focus on Saving Every Day
When you need to save money as quickly as possible, Ross advises using everyday saving strategies that you may not have needed when your accounts were flush. These include using coupons for groceries, turning off the lights and appliances when not using them and limiting your fuel consumption by avoiding unnecessary trips. "There are many little ways to save a few dollars here and there," she says, "which can add up quickly over the course of a month or two."
- Sell Unused Household Items
Take a look around your house for quick sources of cash. "A good way to generate a decent chunk of change quickly is to have a yard sale or sell some items on Craigslist," says Ross. "This can provide a little breathing room without too much effort or stress."
- Find a Side Gig
Consider taking on a part-time job until you get your finances back where you want them. Not only will working extra hours generate additional income, it will severely cut your entertainment expenses. "Working two jobs, freelancing, or otherwise using your free time to earn extra money can be exhausting," she admits, "but it is a very effective way to rebuild your savings quickly."
Additionally, Ross recommends that you resist the temptation to splurge or to impulsively buy things you don't need. Any windfall you may receive, like a tax refund, should be used to fortify your emergency fund.