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While you are in debt, it might seem counterintuitive to put money into savings instead of paying off your debts. In most cases, it is, but only if you don’t have an emergency fund already set up. You should always have at the very least $1,000 in savings that you can use in an emergency. This will help if you ever find yourself in situation, whether it be a medical emergency or an emergency fix on your house, where you need cash fast.
While paying off your debt should be a main priority, having an emergency fund can keep you from going even farther into debt. Pretend you have no emergency fund and the roof caves in on your house. What will you do then? You could try to open a new credit card to put it on or try to borrow a loan from the bank. The problem with these solutions is they end up putting you farther into debt. Beyond the money you have to spend to fix the rough, you also are going to be adding the interest from the loan or the credit card to your debt, which can put you hundreds more under water. Having the money ready to go saves you all that extra interest.
It obviously won’t be easy to squirrel away some extra cash, especially if you already feel broke because of your debt. Here are some easy ways to start putting away some extra money.
1. Cut back on expenses: You may seem like you’ve already cut every corner just to pay down your debt, but there is always room to cut back a dollar here or there. Buy generic. Buy a thermos and take your coffee from home. Make sure you are turning off lights when you leave the room and taking shorter showers. It seems like little things, but those little things can add up to a big savings.
2. Eat out less: You work hard, so sometimes you just don’t have the time to make your lunches for the week or dinner at night, but eating out or even ordering in can be a big hit to your budget if you do it often enough. Instead, keep some staples in your kitchen to make “cooking” easier. A loaf of bread. Cans of soup. Anything that will make eating at home easier. Most food staples are also cheaper, which can help your bottom line.
3. Take advantage of deals: We live in a world full of deals. With sites like Groupon offering deals every day, you can pretty much save on everything you need to buy. You just need to be on the lookout for deals that you need. Unless you are in desperate need for a new wardrobe, avoid deals on clothing. Instead look for deals on places to eat or certain products you need. Search the Internet for “coupon codes” for any products you might need. There is a wealthy of deals out there just waiting to be found. Start by checking out the Simple. Thrifty. Living. Deals page.
4. Use your money wisely: Many people don’t know that there are a few money tricks that can help them save some money but just rethinking how they use their money. First, if you are paying credit card debt and can qualify for a balance transfer credit card that has a 0% intro APR, get one now. You could save hundreds in interest just by transferring your balance. Pour over your bank and credit card statements to make sure you didn’t set up auto-pay for a service you no longer use, like an old gym. Instead of throwing your money into a low-interest savings account, look for other safe investing options like a CD or money market account, or even an online savings account.