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3 Creative Ways to Build Your Savings


Here’s how you know nearly 40% of Americans could stand to be better about saving money: According to, 37% of Americans have credit card debt that equals or exceeds their emergency savings.

“These numbers mean that three out of every eight Americans are teetering on the edge of financial disaster,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. Americans between the ages of 30 and 49 are in the worst shape, mainly due to the high cost of raising children and paying a mortgage.

To start building an emergency fund, which is crucial in the event of a job loss or major health issue that cuts deeply into income, putting 10% of your current paycheck away is a good head start, as is cutting your household budget. But those are conventional strategies; in finding ways of beefing up your emergency savings, the more creative, the better.

The side hustle

Kali Hawlk, a 25-year-old marketing manager in Atlanta, Ga., took a step-ladder approach to creating an emergency fund, essentially by building a part-time business.

“As a consumer, I saved for my emergency fund by establishing a side hustle,” Hawlk says. “I started my own personal finance blog, which led to paid freelance writing opportunities. While I created my budget around the income that I made as a marketing employee, I met my emergency fund savings goals with money I made on the side of my day job.”

Playing pretend

Ted Jenkins, a certified financial planner and founder of Alpharetta, Ga.-based oXYGen Financial, says playing “make believe” is a savvy way to add to savings. “You can pretend gasoline is still $4 a gallon,” he advises. “Just fill your tank, go home and immediately put away in cash what you would have spent at $4 per gallon.”

(Jenkins also has more basic advice: Increase your payroll deduction through your employer. “Just $20 a pay period can quickly help you get to $1,000 over the course of a year,” he says.)

Planned inconvenience

Eliza Cross, a blogger at Happy Simple Living and creator of the January Money Diet, advises a “simple” strategy for growing emergency savings. “Open a savings account in a different location from your main bank — a credit union several miles away is ideal.”

Then contribute regularly via an automatic payment, but don’t get a debit card for the account. Set it up so you have to drive over to the bank and physically take the money out. “This will reduce temptation and make it tougher to draw money out for non-emergencies,” Cross says.

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Brian O’Connell

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