I started saving an emergency fund almost a decade ago. At that time I was a single mom working two days jobs while trying to build an online freelance business.
I had desperately wanted to quit both of my day jobs and freelance full time, there was just one thing holding me back: my lack of savings.
When I decided that a $10,000 emergency fund was my magic “quit my job number” I was determined to make it work. I was only making close to $20,000, or a little more, per year at this time but I knew I’d find a way to make it happen.
Here’s how I was able to save an emergency fund on a low income - and hopefully inspire you to do the same thing!
I Prioritized My Spending
My first step was to prioritize my spending. I was already on a pretty strict budget but I knew there were a few more things I could do to take it even further.
I bought a $10,000 trailer (took out a loan) that had a $226 monthly payment on a four year term. This one move drastically reduced my living expenses. I also set a strict grocery budget and ruthlessly adhered to it. I didn’t have cable TV and instead took advantage of my Amazon Prime membership and DVDs my girls and I had received as gifts.
Entertainment was kept modest as well. I decided to have my fun on a budget! One of our go to entertainment escapes was fishing at my Dad’s pond which was 100% free for my daughters and me.
After all of my budget slashing I was living on less than $1,500 per month. (Babysitting was my largest expense.)
I Side Hustled
Next, and probably more importantly, I started my side hustles, which later became my full-time job.
I decided that I was going to make money online by writing for other people. I started out slow only charging $20 per article. Little by little I started amassing clients until I was fully booked. Today, I'm easily able to charge $200 or more per article - because of my experience and getting started with clients at a low price.
I saved every single penny of this extra money. It all went straight into my emergency fund.
I Saved Bonuses and Income Tax Refunds
During the year that I was working hard to save I ended up getting a modest income tax refund (around $900) which went directly to my emergency fund.
On top of that I was working as insurance agent and after landing my boss a very good account I got a $2,500 bonus. Once again, every single dime of that money went into savings.
Each year, I would also diligently track when to expect my tax refund and plan to catch-up and save that money as well.
I Hit the $10,000 Mark With Fierce Determination
After I had my emergency fund built up to a decent amount I ended up quitting the day jobs in order to start my own freelance business online. That was in October of 2013. Just about one year later.
Even though I was making a low income at the time I started saving, I was determined to reach my goal. And I think that’s the key – you can accomplish anything in this world if you’re determined and willing to put in the work.
You might also enjoy reading my 10 low-income money tips where I share other experiences from my life.
What’s a goal you’ve recently accomplished?
Alexa Mason is a freelance writer and wanna be internet entrepreneur. She is also a newly single mom to two beautiful little girls. She chronicles her journey as a single mom trying to make it big at www.singlemomsincome.com.