Part of the Resource Center Guide to Managing Your Money
Life is full of surprises, right? And while we love the good surprises, the bad ones can be an annoyance - but there is a way to prepare financially for immediate cash needs. Starting a rainy day fund will allow you to function without resorting to credit cards, should a sudden job loss or any variety of recession-related catastrophes occur. You've probably heard you should have between three and six months' worth of living expenses in an emergency account. Feeling overwhelmed yet? It may seem like there's no way to squeeze another cent from your paycheck, but getting started is often the hardest step. It may take one year or five to build a rainy day fund, but from the first deposit-even if it's small-you will have more than you did the day before and can start earning interest on that cash right away.
Vacation coming up? Need money for the holidays? Don't let that stop you from tucking a little money into the emergency account. The key to building a rainy day fund is consistency, not quantity. The more you get accustomed to depositing that cash and not touching it, the sooner you won't even notice it's missing.
Large or small, an extra chunk of cash can boost your morale and make saving a little easier. Try using income tax refunds and commission and bonus checks to instantly fatten up your account. You'll feel better knowing you've saved it, rather than spending it on items you don't immediately need.
Debit cards have made spending easy, but you can use other banking tools to make saving easy, too. Direct your bank to have a designated amount automatically routed into a separate rainy day savings account on payday, before you have a chance to spend it.
Sure, the smaller interest rate earned in a traditional savings account may not seem like much, but the point of a rainy day fund is to provide emergency cash quickly and easily. Having that rainy day fund will lessen your anxiety about coping with those unplanned expenses, and even better - you'll keep spending on your credit card to a minimum.
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