How to Grow Your Emergency Fund From $1,000 to $5,000 in a Year – The Motley Fool

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by Maurie Backman | Published on March 30, 2022
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It's not easy — but it can be done.
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It's important to have money in your savings account for emergencies. You never know when you might lose your job, encounter a home or car repair, or have to take unpaid time off of work due to a medical issue. Without money in the bank, you might quickly fall behind on your bills or land in a pile of costly debt.
If you're sitting on $1,000 in your emergency fund, it means you're off to a good start. But it also means you probably still have work to do.
As a general rule, it's a good idea to have enough money in savings to cover at least three months of essential bills. If you only have $1,000, chances are, that's not enough, because you probably spend more than $333 a month (this applies even if you happen to live somewhere rent free).
The good news, though, is that with the right strategy, you might manage to grow a $1,000 emergency fund into a $5,000 fund pretty quickly. The bad news, though, is that you may need to make some temporary sacrifices to get there.
It's possible to turn a $1,000 savings balance into $5,000 in the course of a year — but only if you're willing to make some lifestyle changes. If you are, then here's your three-step plan.
Do a deep dive into your bank account and credit card statements to see where your money tends to go, and then summarize everything on a budget you create. You might think you only spend $400 a month on groceries when, in reality, you spend $500. Knowing what each specific spending category of yours looks like is important.
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Okay, so this is the harder part. Once you're aware of what your various expense categories cost you, you'll need to figure out which ones you're going to slash. That could mean getting a roommate or downsizing to a smaller rental to shave $400 a month off of your rent. Or, it could mean making a whole bunch of smaller changes, like canceling cable and not going out to dinner twice a week like you normally would.
You might manage to cut back on enough spending to boost your savings by $4,000 in the course of a year. But chances are, your earnings will also need a kick to make that happen. That's where a side hustle comes in. Taking on a second job temporarily could really help you meet your savings goal. And if you end up liking that gig, it's something you can choose to continue once you've hit your personal target for added spending money.
A more robust emergency fund could offer you better protection against life's many unknowns. It pays to do what you can to grow your savings quickly. Doing so could be your ticket to more peace of mind.
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Maurie Backman is a personal finance writer who covers everything from savings to retirement to healthcare. Her articles have appeared broadly on major outlets such as CNBC, MSN, and Yahoo.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
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