Don’t spend a long time getting $1,000 saved for your Baby Step 1 starter emergency fund. You need to save money fast to get this completed as fast as possible. This is going to help you change your behavior with money.
You have no emergency fund until you get this money saved. Without a small emergency fund, you risk reverting back to using a credit card when an emergency arises. Most people should be able to get this money saved in a month.
Even if you take three months to get $1,000 saved, that’s only $333 a month. That should not be an issue for most people. That’s around $80 a week is all. Saving $80 a week isn’t very fast.
There are many ways to save money fast. Most people are spending money on things in their budget they don’t need. You most likely have items in your house you can sell. But when all else fails, when you need money, the best place to go is to work.
Review Your Budget
If you are not following a budget each month, you need to create one. Make sure you have a plan for your money. Create a plan and follow it. When you have a monthly budget, it will be easy to save money fast for your $1,000 starter emergency fund.
Go through each item in your budget and see if it’s something you need right now to live or if it’s a want. This is when you get to decide if you want to save money and pay off your debt or if you want to continue with your same financial habits.
If the item in your budget is a want, put it off to the side for now. Continue to go through your budget until you have a list of all the wants. The fastest way to save money and pay off your debt is going to be to get rid of all the items in your budget that you don’t need. Again, you get to decide what you want to do with your money, but you won’t build wealth by spending all your money each month. Give up most of those wants for a month to see how much money you can save.
Declutter and Sell
How much stuff do you have in your house? How much of it do you need to live? Be honest with yourself. We all have so much stuff in our houses that we could have a month-long garage sale and still have some left over!
My wife and I had a garage sale this past fall and made around $500 over a weekend. It rained most of the day during the last day, so most of that money was made in the first two days in the morning. It didn’t even seem like we sold anything. We were mostly decluttering and didn’t need the money, so we ended up donating to charity everything that didn’t sell. The kids even enjoyed helping get the items priced.
There are some local laws that might limit your ability to have a yard sale multiple weekends in a row, but if you can, keep selling things. Making $1,000 at a yard sale is not out of the question. There are so many options to sell your items online during and after the yard sale ends, so investigate those as well.
Stop Retirement Savings
Stop all retirement saving when on Baby Steps 1, 2, or 3. If you are putting 10% of your income into your 401K at work and making $50,000, that’s $400 a month. With some additional taxes being taken out, your take home pay can increase around $350 a month depending on your tax situation.
Stopping retirement saving even means to give up the company match. Remember, you are trying to save money fast for your $1,000 starter emergency fund. You are not multi-tasking and saving some for your emergency fund and some for your retirement. You need to get this $1,000 saved fast.
When you need money, the best place to go is to work! You have many options when it comes to earning money with a part-time job.
The best option is to see if you can work overtime at your current job if you are paid hourly. Go talk to your manager about working extra hours. Tell them about the journey you are on and how you plan on saving money and paying off your debt. Who knows, maybe they can be a cheerleader for you. If they don’t have extra work for you, maybe they know someone who does.
The next best option is going to be to find a side job in your current career. Use your skills to find a part-time job with another company, whether as an employee or a contract worker. You need to make sure you don’t have a non-compete agreement with your current company. You should discuss this with your current manager to verify everything is good. Again, maybe your manager will have some other options for you, including overtime at your current job.
Look next at a $10-$15 an hour job that you can do in the evenings and weekends. Delivering pizzas, mowing lawns, or stocking shelves at a store. If you can find something that you think you would enjoy, that would be great. If nothing else, this is something you will just need to grin and bear it for a month or two until you can get your $1,000 starter emergency fund saved. Maybe you will enjoy the part-time work and continue doing it to eliminate your debt.
If you have a hobby that you think you could make a profit with, this is going to be an option. Although you can turn hobbies into profits, I would caution you here. The reason it’s a hobby now is because you aren’t making money at it. You are trying to make money so that you can save money fast, so don’t be putting in a lot of money you don’t have into your hobby. You might be better off stopping your hobby, saving that money, and using your time at a part-time job for a few months.
Adjust Your Tax Withholdings
If you get a big refund each year, this can mean you have too much state and federal tax withheld from your paycheck. Ask your boss how you can adjust your tax withholdings. Many companies will let you do this online, but some smaller companies might require you to submit a paper form. In either case, it might be one or two paychecks before you see the additional money in your paycheck. However, this money will be in every paycheck going forward. Use this extra take home income to save your starter emergency fund.
No matter what you determine is the best way to save money fast for your $1,000 starter emergency fund, go do it! Get this money saved in a month. If something is preventing you from doing that, get it saved over two months.
Go fast and hard. You will need this intensity to pay off your debt. These aren’t things you will have to do for the rest of your life. Get this money saved and your snowball rolling so that you can reach your wealth building goals.