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Are you a part of the 61% of Americans that wouldn’t be able to pull $1,000 from your savings in the event of an emergency?

Clearly, you’re not alone. I, too, used to live paycheck to paycheck with a big fat $5 in my savings account. That $5 was the same $5 that I opened my account with.

We’d spend our days hoping and praying that we didn’t get any bills out of the blue because we only had just enough to cover our monthly bills. If something came up, we were either using credit cards or something didn’t get paid that month.

A lot of us are accustomed to living for the now with little regard for future expenses.  After all, life right now is expensive and hectic enough.

But what if I told you that having money in a savings account would actually make your life easier? What if I told you that putting money up would give you so much peace of mind? And, afford you the opportunity to do things you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t?

Everyone should have a savings account.

When you have a channel for excess in the realm of money, you are less likely to stress and fret over unexpected emergencies. You walk with a little more pep in your step, have more joy and confidence in your life because you actually feel like you can afford life.

For instance, you take your car to get its yearly inspection and the mechanic tells you it needs a $500 fix before it can pass inspection. Without money in a savings account, you may be in total shock and dismay trying to figure out how to scrape up this $500. But with a savings account, you take that news easier knowing you’re okay because you have money set aside even though no one wants to pay $500 unexpectedly.

Having money in a savings account prevents you from accumulating more debt. Instead of relying on credit cards during your times of need, you now rely on your money in savings.

We all save money for different reasons.

You may be saving for an emergency fund for those unexpected, but urgent situations like the car example above.

Maybe you want to buy a house and you know you’ll need money for a downpayment, closing costs and furniture for that home.

Maybe your car is on its last legs, and you need money to be able to buy a new one.

Perhaps you want to take your family on a vacation in the near future.

Or maybe you want to have a baby and you realize all the expenses that come along with that.

What is your reason for saving money?

Saving money and building up a savings accounts just to be able to say you have a savings account is not going to motivate you long term to keep on saving.

Having a savings goal and writing out how you plan to get there to achieve this goal can drive you to continue putting money into a savings account.

Think about what you value and what you want to do. How much money does it take to get you there? Realistically, how long will it take you to get to that point?

Personally, the stage of my life that I’m at right now – I want to get out of debt. In order for me to not continue to accumulate more credit card debt, I need to have a funded savings account to act as a buffer. This buffer comes in handy during times when I need money outside of what I have accounted for in my monthly budget.

The power of a money savings challenge

Sometimes doing things repetitively and out of routine can get boring. We end losing our “umph” to continue doing that same thing.

It’s no different when it comes to saving money every month. Even though we know we’re doing it to serve a specific purpose, we still get tired of doing the same thing over and over again.

That’s where creating saving money challenges come in to play.

Everything is more fun with a little bit of competition to it. In a sense, these challenges allow you to compete with yourself to get to an end goal. It creates a visual measure of your success.

You end up being more accountable and more laser focused on completing the challenge.

Save $1,000 in 3 Month Challenge

You may be thinking in your head there’s no way I can save $1,000. I live paycheck to paycheck and hardly have anything left after all my bills are paid.

But you CAN save $1,000. Keep reading to find out how. 

Ways to free up extra money

You can find money in your current budget that can be reduced or eliminated.

Stop going out to eat

The cost of food at restaurants continue to go up. If you’re used to eating out multiple times a week, you could either stop all together or just cut back. You just freed up some money in your budget that you didn’t realize you even had.

Recommended: 15 Ways to Save on Groceries

Sign up for these money saving platforms

Trim is a website that you link your accounts and banking information to and they will analyze where you can potentially save money. The best part is they will negotiate things like your cable and internet bill for you. They will review what you spend money on each month and alert of your recurring subscriptions offering to cancel them for you.

Honey is a website that is most notably known for finding you discount codes and deals. After you sign up for it, you install it as a chrome extension. When you go to check out, you click the Honey icon and and it will apply any discount codes it found to your cart thus saving you money.

Say no to friends

You’ll want to learn how to decline invites from your friends at times if you want to save money. This may mean not going to lunch or dinner with coworkers. You may have to skip happy hour with your BFF. Or maybe you decide that you won’t accept EVERY party invite.

Recommended: 10 Expenses to Cut From Your Budget

Ways to make more money to save more

You can bring in additional money each month to meet your savings goal.  

Make money with online surveys

Surveys are a great way to make a little extra money each month if you have an hour or two a few days out the week. Try some of these to bring in additional income:

Download these money making apps

Ibotta gives you cash back on your grocery shopping purchases. Simply open up the app and search for the store you’re going to. It will list all the offers available for that particular store, claim the offers of items that you will purchase.

You can think of it like coupons in the form of cash back. After you complete your purchase, scan the receipt and earn real money. Cash out with PayPal, Venmo or gift cards. Get a $10 welcome bonus after you scan your first receipt.

Fetch Rewards doesn’t require any upfront legwork other than downloading the app. After you download the app, just scan your grocery receipts and the app reads your receipts to pull in offers you’ve purchased.

You can get a bonus 2,000 points by using code C9QVF when you scan your first receipt. You don’t have to claim offers ahead of time, but you can browse to see what offers are available. This app will give you points for buying brands that they’ve partnered with. Points are redeemed for gift cards.

Ebates gives you cash back for both shopping online and in store. After you sign up, to start earning cash back you just open up their platform before you make your purchase. The only thing you have to do differently when shopping is go through Ebates first then search for the store you’re shopping at.

It’s essentially free money because it’s literally the same store you were going to shop at anyway. But by going through Ebates first, now you’ve unlocked some cash back opportunities. AND you’re paid real money through PayPal. Get a $10 bonus when you make your first online purchase of $25 or more.

GetUpside is a cashback app for gas. After you download the app, search for gas stations in the zip code you’re in. A list of gas stations will appear showing you which gas stations are offering cents back per gallon. So you can think of it as discounted gas because you’re getting some money back per gallon of gas you buy.

With this app, you have to make sure you claim the offer first and buy your gas within the 3 hour window they give you. Cash out with PayPal, gift cards or by check. By signing up with my code F9YF3, you’ll get 15 cents/gallon cash back on your first use.  

Sell unused items around your house

These 3 platforms have apps and websites that allow you to create a listing to sell your things.

Poshmark gives you a space to sell new and used clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories and makeup. Look in your closet and find the clothes and shoes you’re not wearing. Creating a listing is easy and simple. Instead of donating your unused clothing to the thrift store, you can turn your old stuff into cash.

eBay allows you to sell almost anything. I have sold clothes, shoes, books, laundry detergent, toys and much more. If you have something that you may want to sell, you’ll probably find other’s selling it on eBay too. I like to search for what I want to sell to see the price other people are selling for so I can price my items similar.

Mercari is almost like eBay in that you can sell so many different types of things on their platform. They have categories for things like clothing, shoes, toys, handmade items, baby accessories etc. There are only a few prohibited items that you cannot sell. I typically sell clothing, shoes and toys, but they offer so much more.

You can also use these platforms to buy items at a discount price which ends up helping you save even more money. Poshmark will give you $5 to use on your first purchase when you use code EMEXCLUSIVES. Mercari gives you $10 to use on your first purchase.

What to do after you saved your $1,000

Put your savings to good use and let it give you the biggest benefit for you depending on your situation.

Spend it on what it was meant for

Don’t spend it on things you never intended to save for. You’ve worked so hard to build this money up to spend it on purposeless things.

If you were saving for a beater car, well go buy your car.

If you were saving for a baby fund, set that money aside for when baby arrives.

Pay off debt

Maybe you already have some money in savings and you just challenged yourself to see if you could save $1,000 in 3 months on top of what you already save.

If that’s the case, or even if it’s not, once you have a $1,000 buffer, it’s wise to start tackling your debt. Think about all the money you could have every month if only all your debt was paid off.

We want to make saving a priority so we have something to fall back on in case times get hard and we need extra money. If we never build our cushion, we will continue to accumulate debt to stand in as our cushion.

Savings Account

You could also choose to just hold on to that money and put it into a savings account. That money could then act as your rainy day fund for when emergencies arise.

Continue saving

After all obligations are accounted for, continue the process of saving.

Doesn’t it seem like we will never have enough money to do all that needs to be done?

This $1,000 savings challenge may have been for one particular reason, but now you have what feels like a million other things you need to save for. So, continue saving.

A bonus tip for you that works so well for me is to automate your saving. Basically, what this means is you open an online savings account, one that isn’t attached to a checking account or bank card.

Then designate a certain amount of money from your paycheck to be directly deposited into your online savings account. That way, this money is automatically put into your savings account before you even see your check. Allow the account to continue building and before you know it, you’ll have a hefty savings that you don’t really think about.

Saving $1,000 has never been easier with this challenge coupled with the additional ways to earn more money as stated above.

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Ozella is a millennial wife and mom on a journey to financial freedom. Having grown up financially dumb, she learned the hard way and is now working her way out of debt. She uses The Intentional Dollar to share all that she is learning with others through her own journey.

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