It’s always good to have some money put aside for emergencies, in case of anything sudden and unexpected such as a job loss or urgent home repairs. Ideally it should be enough to cover all your essential bills for at least a couple of months or more, but in practice any amount you can save up, however small, is still helpful.
If you don’t already have an easy-access emergency fund you can build one from scratch faster than you think. First, look for ways to cut back on your spending and hopefully create some savings, then consider a few options that could help you earn more.
Ways to make speedy savings
1. A budget is your key tool for speedily pulling some emergency money together. Look at your earnings and outgoings and decide how much you’d like to save each month, then create a budget for the rest of your spending, starting with essential bills. Set limits for how much you want to spend on groceries, transport, socialising and so on, and try to stick to them.
2. Cut back wherever you can, starting by cancelling any unwanted subscriptions and memberships. Be careful when cancelling gym memberships as some of them are actually credit agreements, so read the small print first.
3. If you can create a workable budget, try setting up some regular automatic savings to come out of your account shortly after you’ve been paid. This ‘pay yourself first’ technique is one of the easiest ways to save, and helps to resist the temptation to spend it elsewhere.
4. For a speedy cash boost, get a refund on anything you’ve bought recently that can still be returned. It’s also worth making a polite request for a refund if any product or service has failed to live up to your expectations. It’s your hard-earned money so you might as well get it back.
5. Try some extreme budgeting for a short period. Give up something non-essential for a month or two in an area where you often overspend, such as nightlife, takeaways or clothing.
6. Take your small change to the bank, or use ‘sweeper’ style apps to round up transactions to the nearest pound and add the equivalent of small change to your emergency savings. It takes longer for these smaller savings to mount up but every little helps.
Fast ways to earn extra money
7. Start with your own workplace. Can you do some paid overtime for a few weeks? You could also consider getting an additional part time job for a while, as long as your main work contract doesn’t prevent this.
8. Clear some space and boost your income by selling anything and everything you no longer want or need. Use auction apps and sites, sell through local Facebook groups, or offer items to friends and co-workers. Remember to factor in postage, packaging, fees and other expenses. Alternatively, get a pitch at a car boot sale, or do a lawn or garage sale at home for quick cash.
9. Start a side hustle by offering local services such as house sitting, dog walking, tutoring, childcare, gardening or cleaning. Research whether you need to register to pay tax, or get insurance or a DBS certificate, then set up on your own or join an agency. It doesn’t have to be forever, and could include seasonal work during summer holidays or over Christmas and New Year.
10. If you have art or craft skills, try your hand at making cards, knitwear, artwork, jewellery, print-on-demand designs or other creative items. Sell at craft events or festivals, or use sites like Etsy or Redbubble to reach a wider marketplace.
Start saving and earning more now, and within a few weeks you’ll have a handy fund to help you through hard times.
Penny Golightly is a journalist and author who set up her site to share bargain-hunting tips and information. After living below the poverty line as a child, she decided to avoid running up unnecessary debts as an adult and now lives happily and creatively within her means, and loves finding all the nicer things in life for less. She has written for titles including the Huff Post, The Times, The Guardian and Independent.