Many financial advisors tell you that you should have a minimum of 2 to 6 months income saved in case of an emergency. Unfortunately, as a low income earner, you may feel that even scraping together one month’s income is impossible when you can barely make your bills as it is. Part of the answer is better money management and the other half is putting away a little at a time until you reach your goals. The end result is a little nest egg that can protect you from true financial disaster.
Squeaking a Little More Out
Being a low income earner it is understandable that it feels like having an emergency fund is impossible, even more so if unemployed. Yet, with better money management and taking advantage of all there is to offer from government and charitable organizations, you can often eke out $20-$50 a month to set aside. If you are unemployed, you should review financial benefits available for everyday living needs. This will provide much need cash flow to get buy and possibly a bit to save.
Budgeting isn’t something that many want to take the time to do, but it is very effective. For example, is there anywhere in your current cash flow that you could shave $1-$2 a month? By doing this exercise in 5-10 different areas of your expenditures, you could shave a healthy $20 savings a month into an emergency fund. From cutting out a coffee to taking shorter showers to save on a water bill to lowering or raising your thermostat 2 degrees in the winter or summer; they all provide a little cut that is hard to feel on a monthly basis but allows you some room to save.
Be fastidious and merciless in your frugality in order to achieve a comfortable emergency fund. During this initial phase when you are adding to the fund, try your hardest not to reach into those funds. Instead of reaching into the fund, reach out to your community for help as explained below. This emergency fund should only be used in dire situations, as in there is no community help available and you will go without food, water, shelter or other basic necessities. It should never be used for comfort or luxury items.
Get Help to Save
Look at your monthly budget and the local help programs to find out where you may be able to get help and put the corresponding money from your budget into this emergency fund. For example, if there is a food bank program that you could benefit from, saving you $50-$100 a month on your food budget, that amount then could go into your rainy day fund.
Do this over several areas in your budget over a few months and you can easily get an emergency fund of at least 1 month’s income, the absolute minimum you should have in this fund. From food, clothing and utility help you could be able to ensure a decent emergency fund.
However, be careful not to reach out to too many of these emergency help organizations too often to help develop your emergency fund, as even their emergency help is limited.
This was a guest post