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Few of us have an extra $1,000 just sitting around the house. But that’s exactly where your debt-free journey starts. The Baby Steps begin with saving $1,000 for a starter emergency fund—before you do anything else.
Think of it this way: If you were in a class called Budgeting 101, this would be your first homework assignment! To help you make the grade, here are five things to keep in mind as you start building your emergency fund.
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1. Get on a Budget—Now!
Sure, we said the emergency fund comes before anything else, but it’s really more like 1b. Building (and living on) a zero-based budget every month—on paper, on purpose—is really 1a.
2. Change Your Perspective
If you’re not used to saving money, it can be tough. That’s why you have to change the way you think. Every month when you create your budget, give first and save second. Pay yourself even before you pay your bills. If you don’t, you’ll never get around to actually saving anything.
3. Sell Stuff
A lot of people jump-start their emergency fund with stuff just sitting around the house. You’ve probably got something you could sell: old furniture in storage, clothes or jewelry you never wear anymore, baby stuff your teen outgrew more than a decade ago. You might just discover that yard sales and online auctions are your best friends.
4. Avoid Impulse Buying
Just because you have money in your account doesn’t mean you should spend it. Let your budget tell your money where to go each month—and save your emergency fund for actual emergencies!
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5. Develop Accountability
If you’re married, be accountable to your spouse. If you’re single, find someone who will balance genuine support with brutal honesty. And be willing to listen to what they say.
Following the Baby Steps is important. Following them in order is crucial. So get that $1,000 set aside so you can move on to your next goal—and move one step closer to experiencing genuine financial peace.