Saving for 6 months of living expenses

Most folks have heard the advice that you should keep 3-6 months of living expenses in an emergency fund in the event you lose your job.  In many cases, this seems like a mountain of a task.  For example, let’s say your net income is $3000 per month, this could equate to $9000 to $18000.  That’s a lot of money and those figures can really be difficult to attain for some people.  However, if something like job loss does happen, in most cases people can trim at least 25% off their budget so that number looks more manageable.

That being said, how do you get there?  Here are some tips to follow:

1.  Do not consider your IRA or 401K as part of this fund, except a ROTH IRA where you can withdraw the amount you have contributed tax free.  There are significant penalties for early withdrawal.  Instead, consider reducing your IRA or 401K contributions for a short period of time to help you boost your emergency fund.  Only do this for a short time.

2.  Look around the house for things you are not using and sell them.  With websites like EBAY or CRAIGSLIST, there is always the opportunity to turn that unused stuff into cash.  Put that cash in your fund.

3.  Hold a garage sale and put the proceeds in this fund.  Most people have old stuff in the closet and garage that would not be missed.

4.  Consider a part time job for a short period, especially during the holiday season.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas many retailers need extra staff for the evenings and weekends.  Or on Valentine’s day call a florist and see if they need delivery help.  Take a vacation day and work at a florist that day.

5.  Put your income tax refund to work as part of this fund. 

6.  Most people can trim their budget in some areas, so look for those, even if it is temporary.  For example, if you have cable TV and spend $80 per month on cable you can probably reduce your service without penalty.  You can probably switch to the basic package for about $35 a month.  Do that for 1 year and you have an extra $540.

I am not saying that this will be easy and you will probably have to make some sacrifices to get your emergency fund in place.  However, if you read the newspapers or internet about the current unemployment rate, you will see how important this is.