Want to boost your savings, but don’t know where to start? Check out these five things you can cut from your budget to build emergency savings.
Life happens, sometimes resulting in unexpected expenses. Having a cushion to fall back on in these situations is incredibly important. I recently learned that nearly half of Americans would not be able to cover $400 of emergency expenses without having to borrow money or sell belongings (source). We all know unexpected things can happen, and I personally feel better having the piece of mind that in the event of an emergency or unexpected expense, that I’m prepared as possible. Having an emergency savings can really help ease those concerns. However, saving isn’t always easy.
Since starting my partnership with member-owned credit union BECU this year, I have felt inspired to be diligent with my finances now more than ever – especially in the savings department. While I have been in the habit of saving a portion of everything I earn for years, I realized I wasn’t capitalizing on all of the opportunities I had to save. After evaluating my financial goals and going through my budget with a fine-tooth comb, I have been able to focus more on saving by adjusting the following areas of my budget.
Over the years, I racked up memberships to several services that added up over time, from streaming services I rarely watched and clothing services to subscriptions for my business that either added up quickly or weren’t moving the needle for me. When I looked at how much I was spending each month on subscriptions I didn’t really need, I was able to free up a good chunk of my budget to allocate for saving.5 Ways to Build Emergency Savings Click To Tweet
Renegotiated and Adjusted Bills
When was the last time you contacted your cell phone provider or car insurance company to renegotiate your rate? For me, the answer was…never. At least, not until a few months ago. While automatic payments for your monthly bills can be a great way to make sure you pay your bills on time, they can also make it easy for you to go on autopilot, potentially overpaying for things when you don’t have to be. When I started using the BECU Money Manager tool to better track how much I was spending on my bills each month, I realized I was over-paying for my cell phone provider and car insurance. After working with the companies to renegotiate my rates, I still have coverage for everything I need but can now dedicate what I was previously over-paying to build my savings.
Ok, hear me out on this one. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love fitness (I am a personal trainer after all). And I am certainly not advocating that you let your health suffer for the sake of saving money because cutting corners as far as your health is concerned can cost you money in the long run. What I am saying, is that it is possible to stay in shape without breaking your budget on fitness memberships.
In the fall of 2018, my schedule underwent some major changes and I wasn’t able to frequently visit the same gyms and fitness studios I previously went to and had memberships at. To make up for this, I started working out more at home and started using an affordable ClassPass membership option to allow more flexibility for my changing schedule. Eventually, I realized I didn’t need my old gym membership because these more time and cost-effective options worked better for my schedule and my budget, and have freed up a good amount of money for me to allocate to savings.
Personal Care Products
Are there any other recovering beauty and personal care product junkies out there? I’ll be honest, for years I had a bad habit of leaving with a host of new products I didn’t need every time I went to the drugstore because they would catch my eye and I wanted to try new things out. After looking at my spending trends in BECU’s Money Manager tool, I realized my spending on products was impacting my savings goals and decided to change my shopping habits.
Over time, I have learned to minimize my arsenal of beauty and personal care items. These days I only “try out” new products when I run out of something. I have found that stocking up on my personal care items online via websites like Amazon and BLK+GRN for body care, Quip for toothbrushes and Billie for razors help me keep the products I need on hand with fewer trips to the drugstore. And for me, fewer trips to the drugstore = more money I keep for the future.
I’ll be honest, although I spent years as an avid meal prep devotee, a little while back I completely fell off my game and started going out to lunch instead of packing my own…a lot. At
And for the times I do decide to treat myself to a meal out, I like checking Passport for discounts at local restaurants. Bonus: BECU members can receive special rates on Passport memberships.
Bonus: Salary Adjustments and Automatic Savings
Last but certainly not least, a bonus tip. I set up automatic savings when I got my first job and it has been a habit I’ve stuck with throughout adulthood that has made a huge difference. Every paycheck I’ve earned has had a portion dedicated to savings (even if its just a small amount, as it was when I started my first job).
Making my savings automatic has helped me establish emergency savings, buy my car in cash, and pay off over $50,000 in student loan debt on my own. My best tip for making savings grow? Every time I get a raise or salary adjustment, I adjust my automatic savings to increase by the percentage my income increases. Doing so has helped me level out my spending over the years, and has increased my savings for emergencies and other expenses without even missing it.
Les is the founder of Balanced Black Girl and the host of the Balanced Black Girl Podcast. She’s a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and natural beauty junkie who loves 90’s R&B, trying new skincare products, and creating recipes in the Instant Pot. She created Balanced Black Girl to provide content and experiences empowering women of color to live well.