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How to Save $10,000 for Your Rainy-Day Fund in One Year

Your parents always told you to set money aside for a rainy day. This advice is by no means earth-shattering.

But here’s something that is: 47% of Americans surveyed by the Federal Reserve Board say they don’t have the cash to cover a $400 emergency. That’s not okay! A healthy emergency fund should be able to cover three to six months of expenses.

So let’s talk about how to fix that.

Here are five simple ways people like you save money every day. Try them all, and you could have an extra $10,000 at the end of the year!

Embrace Change: $500 a year

This savings hack goes out to all our cash envelope users!

Every time Angela O. gets a one- or five-dollar bill back as change, she sets it aside for bigger savings goals. “When I do spend money, I end up saving money too,” Angela says.

Chelsea T. offers this advice: “Whenever you get cash from anything—a friend or co-worker chipping in for gas, receiving money from selling odd and end items—put it in savings.”

Using this technique to stockpile $10 a week could net an easy $520 saved at the end of a year!

Check for Insurance Discounts: $1,000 a year

Here’s another pain-free way to save your hard-earned cash: Ask an independent agent to review your insurance policies.

An independent insurance agent is a great money-saver because they’re not limited to a single provider’s options. With access to a whole network of insurers, an independent agent casts a wider net to find you the best deals on the coverage that’s right for you.

If you think such a simple change won’t make a difference, think again. Ryan H. gave an independent insurance agent a try and saved $86 a month on even better coverage. “We just gave our family a $1,000-a-year raise,” Ryan says.

Bring Back the Swap: $1,500 a year

Did you ever trade your PB&J for a pudding cup as a kid? Then you, my friend, know the joy of bartering!

So why not use it to your advantage today? These ideas can get you started:

  • Connie H. finds trade opportunities on Facebook. Simply search for your city’s name with any (or all) of the following keywords: free, trade, or swap.
  • When your kids outgrow their toys or clothes, Tisha M. suggests arranging a swap with other moms you know.
  • When Lynn S. isn’t borrowing books from the library, she uses Paperback Swap to keep her reading habit from breaking the bank.

So how much could an old-school swap save you in a year? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American households spend more than $3,000 a year on clothing, toys, books, and household furnishings and equipment. If you use the power of trade to cut just half of those expenses, you could see a $1,500 boost in savings!

Do a Written Budget: $3,000 a year

You might be wondering how a budget is going to help you save more without a big fat raise to go with it.

Take it from Lisa G. “In my early days, I used to go to the grocery store and box stores without shopping lists,” Lisa admits. “I had no idea how much money I was blowing until I decided to budget! I was able to save an extra $250 a month!”

That means Lisa’s adding an extra $3,000 to her rainy-day fund!

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Are you prepared for life’s emergencies? Learn how to get there with Financial Peace University.

Not sure where to start? Kathy W. is a cost accountant and says the key is finding ways to cut expenses that work for you. “I would focus on keeping a log of all our expenses for a month,” Kathy says. “Take an honest look at your wants and see what you are willing to give up (or reduce the cost of). You can't gain something without giving up something.” 

Make Work Days No-Spend Days: $4,000 a year

Gerald P. designates three no-spend days each week—and is working his way up to five. “Most of my no-spend days are work days,” he says.

Jennifer S. tried a no-spend week recently to save for a new roof. “We made it a challenge and not a chore,” she says. So did it work? “At the end of the week, we had an extra $250-plus saved.”

Let’s say you spend $15 a day during the work week on coffee, lunch and snacks. Brew coffee at home and brown-bag it on just three of those days, and you’d have an extra $45 a week—or $2,300 a year. Bump it up to five days a week, and your annual savings skyrocket to $3,900!

You Can Do It!

Building a rainy-day fund doesn’t happen overnight. But every dollar saved gets you closer to peace of mind.

And small steps do matter. According to the Urban Institute, a cushion of just $250–749 can reduce the impact of income loss, enabling you to keep the lights on and cover your rent or mortgage. Imagine the difference $10,000 would make!

Want to jump-start your savings? Create a budget with our free app, EveryDollar!

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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