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How to Build an Emergency Fund From Scratch

This time last year, CNBC reported on a startling study that stated 62% of Americans didn’t have enough emergency savings to cover even a small unexpected expense. Only 38% of Americans said they could cover something like an emergency room visit or $500 car repair.

Needless to say, the internet blew up with stories of financial doom and gloom – most of which don’t actually help people start saving. Fortunately, we’re more interested in helping you get started saving some money in simple ways. We understand that it can be difficult to start from scratch, so here are some easy ways to build an emergency fund from scratch.

build an emergency fundSell used stuff online.

Spring is around the corner, which means it’s time for Spring Cleaning. It’s also a good time to make some money you can put toward savings.

Around March and April of last year I went on a major de-cluttering craze. I cleaned out my closet, got rid of anything I wasn’t actually using, cleared away some books and started refining my collection of gemstones by removing pieces I no longer wanted.

I decided to experiment with selling some of this stuff online and made over $300 that went directly into an emergency fund. It was so successful that I’ve made it a year round habit. The way I see it, if you’re already in the process of clearing out clutter you might as well go the extra mile and make some money with it.

Use services like

Digit is a new savings account that came onto the personal finance scene about a year ago. You open a savings account with Digit, connect your checking account and then Digit makes tiny deposits into your bank account. It’s literally only $5 here or $7 there.

The idea is that its a painless way to save money because the withdrawals from your checking account are so small. It’s money you won’t miss and Digit pays attention to what you can and cannot afford to save based on your bills, which eliminates the fear of overdrafting.

It may not seem like much but from December 2015 to now, but I’ve already saved over $400 of what is basically spare change in my Digit account. That’s almost a car repair right there!

build an emergency fundStart a side hustle.

One of the best ways to make sure you’re set financially is to have multiple streams of income. Thanks to the internet it’s easier than ever to make some money on the side by trading your skills for some cash.

If you have any sort of skill whatsoever (which we all have) you can make money. Maybe you’re a writer or designer and can sign up for oDesk to make extra money on projects. Maybe you can babysit or start walking dogs in the neighborhood. Any extra money you make can help you build an emergency fund.

Build an Emergency Fund – Final Thoughts

There are multiple options available to help you build an emergency fund from scratch. Withe the right tools and a little extra elbow grease you can build a cushion should you ever be faced with an unexpected expense.

This post was written by Amanda Abella, a business coach for millennials, speaker, and best selling author.



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Really great insights, Amanda. There is so much emotional security that comes with having an emergency fund, too. My husband and I just made another deposit in our EF and it’s just in time because his SUV blew a motor last month and our only functioning vehicle (my squash bug, little Hyundai) just surprised us with a “check engine” light yesterday. We’ve got the money to deal with the problems and get our cars back on the road. It wasn’t always this way and the difference is SUCH a relief.

    • Ah yes! There is a lot of emotional security that comes with an emergency fund. I actually had a discussion about this witha friend on a recent trip to Mexico. He noted how he can travel while running a business and knows that he is covered financially should he for whatever reason not to be able to work while on the road – all because of hefty savings. Truth be told, it’s not just emotional security it’s also about freedom.

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