Saving Your $1,000 Emergency Fund

January 30, 2014
emergency fund

When you feel as though you’re living paycheck to paycheck, the thought of building up a $1,000 emergency fund can be daunting. But it’s so important, and with a little creativity it can be a fun and rewarding challenge!

However, those dollars will not accumulate without a plan. So as you read, decide which of these idea – or others – you’ll implement to free up cash and make the process of saving go a little faster without your current budget being affected in a way that’s stressful.

Cut back on convenience groceries

Do you have a Keurig? Stop buying those spendy little pre-filled cups and use a refillable one with your own coffee. Instead of individual snack packs, make your own snack mixes in bulk and then portion them out. Figure out what you save on groceries each week and put it in your emergency fund.

Get rid of services you’re paying for and not using

Does gym membership come to mind? A time-share? The newspaper you don’t make time to read? Even small subscriptions can add up. Cancel the ones you don’t use and set up your bank account so that that same amount automatically goes to savings rather than being withdrawn for those memberships.

Purge closets & storage and sell what you no longer need

Whether it’s on ebay, Craigslist, at a garage sale, or on a local Facebook buy/sell group, get rid of those anchors and make some money doing it! They’re not doing any good sitting in your house or garage unused, so you may as well free up some space and put that chunk of change in the bank.

Cancel cable or satellite

Even if it’s just for a season, trim the fat on the channels you get in order to fatten up your emergency fund. Supplement with a digital converter box and movies checked out from the library. If you are a frequent movie renter, add a subscription to Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu Plus so that you save on the cost of both the rentals and the gas to drive there and back twice. After you see how much money you are able to squirrel away from not having a cable bill, you may decide never to go back!

Look into switching to a pre-paid phone plan

While there are some people for whom it’s not practical, changing to a pre-paid plan is often a wise choice that can drastically cut your wireless phone bill. With flat-rate pricing, you won’t have to worry above overages or hidden fees.

Avoid your vices

Does your steering wheel start working on its own when you approach a Starbucks? Can you not leave Michael’s without dropping $50? Then stay away! If you know you lack self-control when it comes to spending in certain stores, simply don’t go. Whatever you’re accustomed to spending in a month on those non-necessities, put that money in savings instead.



Use your skill or talents to earn extra money

Whether it’s a handmade item or a service, leverage your knowledge and experience to make a little extra money providing something that people need. They’re probably going to pay someone to do it or make it, so why not you? Mention your availability via email or on social media so that others are aware.

Take a break from eating out

Try and go just one month without stepping inside a restaurant. Some people may end up with a few hundred dollars in that emergency fund at the end of it! Wouldn’t that be a great motivation to extend it for a few more?

Transfer a certain amount to savings with each paycheck

Determine ahead of time how much this will be, and pretend as though it’s not even available to you. Even if your budget is super tight and you can only manage $20 per bi-weekly paycheck, you’ll have over half your emergency fund saved in a year!

Use your tax return

If you are anticipating a tax return this year, don’t view it as free money and make plans to spend it. Decide that you’ll immediately save $1,000 for your emergency fund (or the full amount of the return if it’s less than that), and then put any excess toward your debt snowball. You will not regret using it this way. I repeat: You will not regret it!


Are there other methods to that have helped you build up your emergency fund?

Please share in the comments! 

Melissa is passionate about people living within their means and becoming--and remaining--debt-free. She is the owner of A Time for Everything, which includes both a shop where she sells handmade cash envelope system wallets and accessories, and a blog where she writes about frugal living, creating, and life in general. She's been blogging since 2007 and making pretty wallets since 2011.

9 comments on “Saving Your $1,000 Emergency Fund

  1. This was a great post idea. It is often hard to save emergency funds – something we all need in the current economic climate really – and you’ve provided some pretty useful tips Melissa. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Brandi says:

    Great advice, I keep thinking about making changes to my bills but get so nervous. I have a husband who spends our tacx return 6 mo before we get it! lol These tips are so helpful I think I am going to try the purging of the closets first.

  3. Drop each and every $5 bill you end up with into a jar that’s kept tucked away. This has worked for us … and I can’t tell you how easy this habit was to kick into gear …

    Count it occasionally – when you get to $100, pop it into the bank.


  4. Crystle Monahan says:

    I like these ideas. I cannot implement most of them at this time (personal reason) but they are good to know. Another idea is this: If you pay in cash for certain things, collect the coin change and put it towards your fund. It may not be much, but every little bit helps!

    Also, if you get a financial aid refund from grants and scholarships from college, it might be a good idea to put as much of that as possible toward a college-specific emergency fund.

  5. Melissa Orona says:

    These are some great tips. I seen an instagram post about saving money on a weekly basis. For example: the first week of January, put $1 in savings; second week $2, third week $3, etc. By the last week of the year (week 52), you will have saved $1,378.00. Just by putting away money every week. This can be your starbucks that week or maybe packing your own lunch and putting that money towards savings. I personally have started this. My boyfriend and I get paid bi-weekly, which gives us a check every week. We budget our bills then put the savings away for that week, then do all the other things we need to do.

    Thanks for the great tips.

    xoxo, Melissa

  6. Janet says:

    My family is in major cutback mode right now and we’re doing all of these things. However, one huge change we’ve made was to do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi’s. Most everything there is super good quality (have you tried the teriyaki pork tenderloins or the dark chocolate topped shortbread cookies??) and my husband and I laugh at the prices. $0.69 for a bag of washed, ready to eat baby carrots? Yes please! $0.49 cans of corn? I’ll take two! We have easily saved over $100 on each grocery trip by planning our meals from this store.

  7. Claire says:

    Great ideas. I am on a mission to save as much money as possible and have managed £1200 so far. Aiming for £1500 by the end of February. I am on a low income, so this can be hard some weeks, but I have given myself a money makeover, and have done loads of the things you suggested above 🙂

  8. Amanda Long says:

    Awesome, and very helpful post. My husband is always asking me if we have enough to replace our furnace if it goes. He works outside and feels the worst of the cold. Clearly we don’t have $5,000+ sitting around. I would be ecstatic if we could start with $1,000. A million thanks for this post.
    Many blessings your way,
    Amanda Long

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