For us, although there have been times when we've had some money in savings, when you're raising small children--and multiple small children--there's always something that cleans out the account. Since we have a high amount of medical expenses with my husband's back injury that are not covered by insurance, it is tremendously difficult to save money each month. Plus, in a month where perhaps we could save, if one of the kids comes down with a nasty bug and needs a doctor's visit, that's $70-$80 out of pocket, plus any needed prescriptions. A trip for the boys to the dentist every six months is around $300 (we don't have dental insurance).
Suffice it to say, I'm more accustomed to saving for particular items than just to save for savings' sake. But let's say I am saving for no particular reason except to save. In the middle of the process, maybe the brakes need to be replaced on the van, or my husband needs an eye exam and new glasses, or the roof starts leaking and needs to be redone. It seems like there's always something that keeps us from meeting our saving goals.
While I don't have any magical answers on how to create a fully-funded emergency fund, what I can offer you is some practical ways to save.
- For us, I'm working to trim expenses in other areas to free up some extra money that can be saved. Even if it has to be used for something along the way, at least there's something in the account.
- Second, even if it's just twenty dollars, when you deposit your husband's check (or your own), split some money to savings right on the deposit slip. (If you don't know how to do this, a teller can show you.)
- Are there any ways you (or your husband) can increase your family's income? Can you take some clothes to the consignment store or sell them on ebay? Can you or your husband find a way to earn some extra money from home?
- Eat out less, or not at all, and save what you would have spent.
- Making breakfasts from scratch (not buying cereal, bagels, etc.) saves quite a bit. Think oatmeal, eggs (fried, scrambled, hard-boiled), pancakes, waffles, crepes, muffins, etc. Think of creative ways to save on lunches and dinners too (I'll keep sharing what I learn in the Healthy $10 a Day Menus).
- Browse thrift-stores if you haven't already. You can find great clothing and housewares for pennies. Of course, not all thrift stores are created equal. Here is a post I wrote with some thrift-store shopping tips: http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2009/10/oh-how-i-love-thrift-store-shopping.html
- Buy plastic wrap and spices in bulk (like from Sams or Costco)
- Browse through the "Saving Money" category on the sidebar of my blog for more ideas.
(linked to Works for Me Wednesday)