Tips to Help You Fund (and Keep) Your Emergency Fund

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Everyone who’s ever had an emergency will tell you money is key to making good decisions. We make bad financial decisions when were broke and desperate. That’s why having an emergency fund is vital to starting any journey in finance. But it’s so hard to save, and then you’ve got the temptation of $1000 sitting in your bank account screaming to be used. Here are some tips we’ve used to save and keep our emergency fund. We currently keep a mini emergency fund of $1000 while we’re paying our debt and so far it’s worked out great. So a note to those on the other end of the spectrum, nervous about draining your savings that low, trust me when I say you’ll be fine, just breathe, commit, and lean in. For the rest of us:

 

Budget

Tired of hearing about budgets yet? It’s like being on a diet and getting reminded over and over that you can’t have dessert. But the budget is the key to achieving your goal. Without a budget your money will get lost in other “important” purchases and you’ll be wondering why you’re 6 months in and no richer than you were to start. Start that budget!

 

Sell Something

We sold old textbooks, clothes, furniture, even a toaster. Anything that wasn’t vitally essential to our comfort had to go. Craigslist is a familiar place to start but there are plenty of ways to sell stuff without leaving the couch. OfferUp is an app that allows you to put an offer on items in your area, Poshmark is a website that lets you post clothes for sale, and yes, people still use ebay.

 

Drop the Non Essentials

Cable, your landline, gym membership, any and all subscriptions, you name it. We have money flowing out of our accounts that we never think about. Look through your statement and consider relinquishing one or two things. It doesn’t have to be forever but you may realize you didn’t need it as much as you thought you did.

 

Commit to not spending for a period of time

If this girl can go without shopping for 2 years then you can go for a month. There are all kinds of things you can fast for a period of time that wouldn’t be sustainable long term but are realistically doable for 1-4 months. Eating out, coffee, alcohol, the bargain bins at Target, these are luxuries you can’t afford if you don’t have money saved for legit emergencies.

 

Now that you’ve got it:

Keep your emergency fund out of site and out of mind. Open a credit union account that doesn’t charge fees for just letting your money sit in checking. And leave the card at home. I leave mine in the inconvenient file folder with the rest of my financial documents. Then go pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s there if your car dies, you have to make a trip to the ER, your pet eats that leftover chocolate cake you left on the counter (how dare you.) Running out of something isn’t an emergency; paying rent isn’t an emergency. These are things that should be in your budget. Don’t give yourself the temptation to spend your Emergency Fund, you’re not going to be perfect so put parameters on your money to help yourself succeed.

Buy Clothes, Save The World!

Get ready to feel really good about yourself. I know you’re concerned about your carbon and slavery footprint (You are, right? Good.) but just don’t have the time, energy, and resources to buy locally sourced and stitched goods to cover your body. It’s hard enough to remember which produce to buy organic, then we have to figure out which blouses are organic cotton? The struggle is real. But you know what’s also real? We consume 80 billion pieces of new clothing every year. Fast fashion has made design turnover faster than servers at Chili’s. And it comes at a cost you don’t pay with your AmEx. All this consumption takes a huge toll on the environment and the [pretty much slave] labor that produces it. I could delve deeper but I recommend watching The True Cost, a documentary on Netflix about what you’re really paying for when you buy that new shirt that you “kind of like but it’s on sale so whatever.”

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So here’s the bright side, you can have all the trendy apparel you want from any brand you like without adding to your carbon or slavery footprint. Buying secondhand is the simplest move you can make to save the world and push the fashion industry in a more ethical direction. And best of all, it’s cheaper than retail. You’ll save 50-90% and get pieces that are good quality and timeless. Hate the idea of the smelly thrift store and don’t know where to start on your secondhand journey? Here are some of my favorites:

 

Plato’s Closet, Revolve, Clothes Mentor

These are great because they’re brick and mortar shops where you can touch and try on everything. This is always where I start when I’m hankering for something fresh to put in my closet. Plato’s is the most wallet friendly, Revolve has a great vintage section, and Mentor is where you go to get your business casual (and where to send you mom when she asks you about all your new threads.) They’re all picky about what they buy so you can be assured you’re getting top-notch quality.

 

ThredUp

This is an online consignment store that has women’s, children’s, and maternity clothing ranging from high end to Target brands. They also carry accessories. I love the styles and variety they have (200,000+ items,) and every piece I’ve purchased from them has been exceptional quality. My favorite thing about them though is their passion for sustainable clothing practices and their commitment to education and the environment.

 

Swap.com

Another great online consignment that, in addition to women and children, carries men’s, baby clothes/gear, toys, books, and movies! They have a massive variety of things to choose from (600,000+ items) at great prices.

 

Oxfam

You’ve heard of the great work Oxfam is doing to eliminate poverty around the world. Did you know they accept donated goods at their stores in the UK and post them online for your shopping pleasure? This is a great way to get European brands for a fraction of the cost and feel so so good about yourself while doing it. Their online shop is easy to navigate and even includes a bridal section. And international shipping is less than $8 for most purchases.

 

I could go on but these should get you started for the next time you need a dress for a wedding, new colors in your closet, or gifts for loved (and acquainted) ones.