Saving up an emergency fund is no easy feat. Most experts recommend setting aside at least six months’ worth of expenses, which can translate to several thousand dollars. So if you managed to actually save up that money, only to have an emergency wipe it all out, it can be tough to find the motivation to start all over again.
Unfortunately, the pandemic left millions of people in this exact position. But that’s the point of an emergency fund: to financially prepare for the unexpected. A recent GOBankingRates survey found that over half of Americans — 51% — currently don’t have any form of emergency fund. So, if you’re struggling with getting motivated to build (or re-build) your savings safety net, here are a few tips to help.
Remember That Nothing Is Permanent
The first step in getting your savings back on track is understanding that much of what feels overwhelming in life, and with finances, is temporary, according to Lauren Anastasio, formerly the Senior Certified Financial Planner at SoFi. Plus, the whole point of having an emergency fund is to use the money instead of falling into debt. So, know that depleting your savings is not a failure, but a temporary setback.
“Keep your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel,” Anastasio said.
Shift Your Focus
We often have competing financial priorities in life, such as paying bills, paying down debt, saving for retirement, saving for a house, etc. But spreading your focus and emotional and physical resources across multiple goals can quickly become overwhelming and eat away at your overall quality of life, Anastasio said. Not to mention, it can slow your progress. Instead, focus on one goal at a time, starting with building your savings.
“By doing so, you can make progress quicker and alleviate some of the additional stress that could negatively impact your journey to becoming financially independent,” she added.
Find a Budget Buddy
It can be comforting to know that someone else truly understands the effort and emotional toll that goes into reaching a big savings goal. Anastasio said that talking to your partner, a close friend or family member about what is going on may help you let go of guilt, shame or anxiety.
“Your budget buddy can be your cheerleader when you need it and motivate you whenever you get frustrated or discouraged,” she said.
Be Kind to Yourself
“Nobody is perfect, and comparison is the thief of joy,” Anastasio said, noting that it can be difficult to avoid making assumptions about how others are faring financially. “But just because a friend is posting about their exotic vacations or a neighbor seems to be doing one luxury home renovation after another does not mean they’re experiencing success while you’re not.”
So to avoid getting discouraged, compare your current progress to where you started — not with what or how anyone else is doing. And be sure to reward yourself (within reason) for hitting savings milestones.
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