13 Ways to Build Your Rainy Day Fund

  1. Check your “extras”

    It may be only a few dollars here or there, but these little extras really add up. Addicted to Orange mocha frappuccino? Try making your coffee at home instead of splurging for that expensive drink from a shop. Drinking soda or juice with every meal? Time to switch to water instead. Stop eating out for lunch everyday and try bringing a bagged lunch instead.

  2. Re-evaluate your “essentials”

    Think about those everyday products you use, and discontinue the use of 5 of them. Can you find items that seem “essential” but are really splurge options. Things like daily coffee from a stand, regular wardrobe updates, replacing cable with streaming services, unneeded insurance, etc. You might find you can free up some serious cash.

  3. Buy generic

    No matter if we’re talking about cereal, cough syrup or batteries, products featuring nationally recognized name brands tend to cost more than their generic store-brand counterparts. But the assumption that higher price means higher quality is fading. 

    The Great Recession brought with it new opportunities for supermarkets and drugstores to reach out to consumers who grew increasingly eager to save on everyday purchases. One of the simplest strategies to trim bills has been to switch to cheaper brands — or rather, generic “no-name” brands sold only at specific chains.

  4. Go discount

    While discounts for students and seniors are well known, websites like Retailmenot, install an extension like Coupons at Checkout or Honey and get automatic coupon codes for a ton of retailers all over the web. While you're at it, make sure you're using price alerts, price comparison tools, and newslettters to stay up-to-date on all the products you want to buy. (Of course, if you're still old school, there's something to be said for clipping physical coupons too).

  5. Shop smarter for your groceries

    There are many methods to stretching your budget at the grocery store. Some of these include shopping at a discount grocer, making a shopping list, bypassing unnecessary aisles and sections, buying the store brand version, buying the bulk versions of non-perishable items, meal planing before going shopping, sticking to manager's specials and the overflow bakery section, buying seasonal produce, and never shopping while tired or hungry.

  6. Watch out for “impulse” buys

    Think about small changes creating a big result. The average American spends roughly $5000 on impulse buying each year. Think about what you could do with an extra $5,000! And even if you only spend a few hundred dollars on impulse purchases every year, that is still enough money to help you pay rent one month if ever you're strapped for cash.

    In addition, it plays to know the psychology of impulse buying behavior. Regularly giving in to impulse purchases doesn't mean that you're bad with money, it just means you're human. Work to understand how and why you make impulse purchases. Our brains are hard-wired to crave immediate gratification and emotional spending satisfies that need.

  7. Cancel your subscriptions

    This one should be obvious. How many subscriptoion programs are you using, and do you need them? Amazon Prime, Spotify music, Netflix, meal prep and delivery services, the list goes on and on. Take stock of whether or not you can live without these products, and ditch the ones you don’t really need.

  8. Entertain at home

    The average event-goer spends $81 on a night out, and goes out two nights a week. That is $160 you could be putting away each week! An easy change to your lifestyle to put a few extra dollars away, and perhaps engage in some new hobbies and interests.

  9. Down-size your services

  10. Sell your extra stuff

    Consider a few ideas: there are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times). The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR). 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades (New York Times Magazine). 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy). Point being, it is likely that you have a lot of extra stuff! Use websites and apps such as Offer-up and Facebook marketplace to get red of the stuff you don’t utilize regularly.

  11. Have a “no spend” month

    A great way to resent your financial barometer, having a “no-spend” month will really show you where your money is going, and how you can live without a lot of the purchases you’re regularly making. There are tons of great resources to help you along the way - blogs, books, videos, and the like. You can even find and join groups to support you in your no spend month!

  12. Save your change

    Empty your pockets, dig through the sofa, check any nook and cranny for coins each day. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fast your coins add up.

  13. Don’t spend bonuses

    Save tax refunds, holiday bonuses, birthday money, or any extra money you get from a raise.

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Andrew Figgs