• Finance

5 creative ways to build your emergency fund

Unemployment may be at an all-time low, but the cost of living is on the rise in the U.S. As wages stagnate, housing, utilities, vehicles, and education are becoming more expensive.

These factors are contributing to the savings crisis across the nation. According to Bankrate, 28% of Americans don’t have any emergency savings. While 25% do have a fund to fall back on, it's not enough to cover expenses for the recommended three months.

While many Americans have steady incomes help build their emergency funds, freelancers don’t always have that luxury. Unpredictable schedules and changing client needs can result in unreliable cash flow, making it crucial to use creative thinking when it comes to building a savings safety net.

If you’re a freelancer and you’re looking to save up, here are some steps you can take to feel more financially secure.

1. Use automatic transfers

Experts recommend saving at least 20% of every paycheck. It takes consistency to save money, and it can easily slip your mind to contribute to your emergency fund. To safeguard against this scenario, set up automatic transfers into your savings account for each paycheck you receive.

2. Work out of a coffee shop

Working out of a coffee shop doesn't just offer a change of scenery – it can also save you money. Free WiFi and electricity means you can cut costs on the upkeep of your home office. Find a café that offers a rewards program so that you can save money on your coffee bill, too.

3. Lower your interest rates

High interest rates can drain your bank account. If you’ve been paying off your credit cards consistently, call your company and ask them to lower your interest rate. Another option is to sign up for a balance transfer card with 0% interest and pay off your debt within the promotional period. Keep in mind that there is usually a fee for a balance transfer, and your interest rate will likely jump significantly after the introductory 0% interest period is over.

4. Use envelopes of cash

It’s easy to get into debt when you can simply swipe your credit card to make a purchase. Psychologically, it’s easier to spend less money if you use envelopes of cash instead. Look at your monthly budget, take cash out of the ATM, and divide it into envelopes that you’ll use to pay your bills and discretionary expenses throughout the month.

5. Switch over to pay-as-you-go Internet

As a freelancer, your Internet needs can ebb and flow based on your workload. Pay-as-you-go Internet lets you purchase passes on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis, allowing you to cut costs by only paying for what you need. Internet passes can also be a cost-effective option when you're on the road and need to go online to get some work done.

Getting started is intimidating, but you can build your emergency fund with just a little bit of creativity. To speed up your savings, look for a savings account with a good interest rate. If you put your money to work, you’ll have a solid savings account in no time.

Kylie Ora Lobelle Kylie is a copywriter, marketer, and publicist who covers small business, tech, and legal. She has been published in New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.

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