woman holding a box filled of stuff inside the thrift store

Any Raleigh insurance company will say that having a sufficient stash of money in your bank account is the first step toward achieving financial freedom in the Tar Heel State. Many of us feel a false sense of security by having a rainy day fund. While it is good to have $500 to $1,000 on tap to get you through from paycheck to paycheck without depending on plastic, it will not be enough when life throws a major curveball at you.

An emergency fund is what you need to avoid financial distress when a large inescapable expense catches you off guard. There is no universal figure you could aim for, but you would know you have enough when your savings can cover your monthly expenses for three to six months even if suddenly become unemployed.

Building an adequate emergency fund takes time and discipline (and luck). Fortunately, there are ways to ensure you stay on track steadily to reach your goal more quickly. Below are practical ideas you should strongly consider.

Turn Clutter to Cash

Get rid of the possessions you can live without and sell them. Many of us do not realize how much stuff we do not need. Tidy up each room, and you might find a couple of forgotten gems that have been collecting dust for years.

To be clear, not all pre-loved items have a market. Clothes, children’s toys, and books tend to sell quickly, but do not expect to get a boatload of cash for them. What many individuals and businesses consider more valuable, though, are scrap metal, jewelry, and vintage stuff.

Go Back to Basics

Assess your lifestyle, and think about the things that you do and the services you pay for regularly that are not necessary. Dining out, subscribing to cable or Netflix, and buying brand-new products are some of the poor financial habits most of us share. Make cuts, and focus your spending on your real necessities. You will be surprised by how much money you can save.

Capitalize on the Sharing Economy

Do you usually commute to work and back in your car? You might want to try carpooling to cut down your gas expenses. Taking this route can also help you reduce your auto insurance premium, for you will no longer drive as many miles per year.

Spend Your Time Wisely

man doing a freelance job at a coffee shop

If you have a lot of free time, maybe you find a second job to have another stream of income. You do not necessarily need a new skill to be of help to others. Contemplate what you are passionate about, pursue it, and make money on the side.

Are you a dog person? Trade an hour of your day to walk your neighbor’s dog for some cash. Do you love carpentry? Perhaps you can moonlight as a construction worker every afternoon or on the weekend.

You can explore different investments to prepare for your retirement, but it is hard to build your wealth if you always have to touch your assets whenever you go through a rough time. Everybody can build an emergency fund, but it needs work, so be ready to take every opportunity to beef up your savings sooner rather than later.