Find how to start or build an emergency savings account on a limited income.

It is possible to start to build, or increase, your emergency savings even when living paycheck to paycheck (like most Americans do) or when you are in effect broke. There are a number of ways to easily make a few extra dollars (often from things you do daily now) as well as ways to easily cut back and save money. Between those two things you can free up some cash for your emergency savings. Find tips, suggestions, and information on how to start or increase your emergency savings below.

When it comes to the amount of money that should be saved for an emergency, so called “experts” will say different things. They may say 6 months or a years worth of your salary. Or some experts say a few months of salary. The point is you should have some cash set aside for an emergency…even if just a few weeks. Low income families or anyone living check to check need to do this as well, as they are technically more on the financial edge.

Emergency savings are critical. That way if your car breaks down, you get sick or injured and miss work, a partner has a reduction or loss of income or anything else, you have some money set aside so you can continue to pay the bills. Anyone can build an emergency savings account; people living in poverty, those living check to check, the low income and anyone can start to save.

Make some money for your emergency savings

Of course you can work more hours at your current job (if you are not “salaried”) or get a higher paying job. Those are the obvious ways to make more money. But what we have noted below are maybe some non-traditional ways to increase your income above and beyond what you may currently be earning.

One of the easiest ways to start to earn money for your emergency savings is to literally monetize what you do now on a daily basis. Now all of these activities do require a little upfront work (such as registering for a site, downloading a phone app, etc.) but they do pay out. They will not make you “rich”, but that is not the point here. Rather it is to start to save some money for a crisis.





Some ways to do this include getting paid to watch TV or videos or movies. Marketing companies will pay for feedback for views. Almost everyone takes pictures on their cell phone these days. Well you can upload those “safe” or more “generic” pictures to online marketplace websites, and on occasion some company such as a news publication may license to buy photos from you. Find how to sell your photographs.

Another thing to start an emergency savings account is to rent stuff out. If you own a car you can put advertising on it. Or rent out an extra room in your home, unused electronics, and the like. Or simplify your life and sell some “clutter” or arts and cash for extra cash, and dump that money into an emergency savings account. There are a number of online marketplaces to sell crafts.

While not very recommended, another option is to sell plasma or a female selling Eggs. There is a healthcare impact to this though, so it is not highly recommended. Then of course you can sell your hair when you cut it.

Anyone living paycheck to paycheck, who things they will be broke forever, probably has a hobby. Yes, there are some hobbies that can help you build up an emergency savings account. Read more on turning a hobby into money for savings.

Save some money to apply to emergency savings

Of course the second way to start an emergency savings account (or to increase the size of it if you have one) is to save money. Now this sounds so easy to do, yet so few people do it. They do not have the time, discipline or energy to cut back. Or they just lack the effort. But it is much easier to save money these days, mostly using technology for things you do every day. Once again, put that money into your savings account!





First, be sure to use a cashback website or app when shopping. You can literally save (or even get paid free money) of 5, 10, even 20% of what you spend. There are tons of free coupons out there as well. You can have them appear on your cell phone or computer as you shop. Or use a coupon to pay for clothes, dinner out, or countless other items. The websites are free, and find the leading coupon websites or apps.

Save money for your emergency savings by comparison shopping too. There are websites that will direct you to the lowest price for all your shopping, such as food, travel, electronics, and more.

One tactic is to use coupon apps, and every single dollar saved can be put into a savings account. There are some smartphone apps that will in fact automatically do this. There are free coupons for medications, to pay for groceries, travel, and countless other items. Or transfer the money yourself. There should also be no “stigma” with using coupons, as studies show a majority of middle to upper income households use them. Find details on how to find free coupons, where to get them, and how they can help build an emergency rainy day savings account.

We have a comprehensive listing of money saving tactics. Use the money for your emergency savings account. Save on food, housing, home repairs, medications, utilities, and more. The tips are all across the site, and every dollar saved is a dollar earned (and it can be saved!).

Charities can help low income families build emergency savings

Low income families can use all of the agencies that are out there to help them through a difficult time. They can provide guidance, free stuff (thereby helping you save money for a savings account), counseling and more. Never hesitate to use these charitable or non-profit resources, as that is why they exist.

Then of course there are all the financial aid programs as well as free resources out there. Non-profit as well as charities can help you save money for your savings account. Examples include food pantries, free clothing or furniture banks, thrift stores, and more. Charities often provide free stuff for low income families or those facing a hardship. These are even more effective for very low income or broke people who want to get ahead. Find a list of national and local charities.




Everyone should have some form of emergency savings. While it can be more challenging for a low income family to start on this path, it is possible. The list of tips, resources, and suggestions below will help you start to save or add to an emergency savings account.


By Jon McNamara

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