Build your Cash Emergency Fund

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

Now that the new year is here a lot of people are making resolutions to “save more money.”   I am one of them.  To be specific, one of my goals is to increase my cash emergency fund.

I used to do all my spending using debit and credit cards,  until I realized I needed some cash set aside in case of emergency.   Think for a moment what would happen if you lost access to your bank or credit card accounts.  This sounds far fetched but it can happen:

  • Cyber attack – As we discussed in this previous article, stores and banks are increasingly being targeted.  There is always a possibility that consumers’ accounts would be frozen temporarily as banks investigate the matter.
  • Your account gets hacked – If there is a data breach or if your identity gets stolen, a bank will immediately freeze your account.  And if the credit card is linked to your checking and savings account, you might lose access to all your accounts at the same time.
  • Widespread power outage – If there were a large scale power outage due to some type of emergency, cash machines, debit and credit transactions would not work.  I was in a grocery store once when the power went out, and the only transaction accepted was cash.

A cash emergency fund would protect you in the event you could not access your cash for whatever reason.  You would, at least, have money for food and gas.

Money is tight for many of us and it is hard to come up with extra cash to set aside.

How to build up a small cash emergency fund:


  • Pick up change!  I actually know people who throw away pennies.  Apt Prepper son tells me kids at his school are too lazy to pick up their own change when they drop coins on the ground.
  • Keep all “found money” in a change jar.
  • Use coupons at the supermarket, but keep coupon savings in cash.  If you had a $1 off coupon, then save that $1 in your emergency cash fund.
  • Sign up for any product rebates you qualify for.  When you receive the check, cash it and save it in your cash stash.
  • Conserve water and electricity; when you get the bill that is lower than your budgeted amount, even if it’s a few cents, save the difference and take it out in cash.
  • Call your cable, phone and cell phone provider and ask the rep to go over your bill.  Review each service you are paying for, and ask for help in trying to lower your bill.  Or, consider moving to a lower cost plan.  Set aside your savings in the cash fund.
  • Save any “gift money” received during birthdays and holidays.
  • If you receive gift cards you will never use, sell them (at a discount) at sites such as
  • If you habitually spend money on lottery tickets, take the money you usually spend and save it instead.  It is fun to occasionally buy a ticket but you have to admit, it’s usually a losing one.  Save the money instead at least for a few weeks; in a few weeks you will have a nice cash cushion instead of lost dollars.
  • Save any windfalls, work bonuses instead of spending them.

How much money you will need to set aside depends on your family’s expenses and what you feel comfortable keeping in the house.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

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  1. I have an empty 5 gallon water jug that every time I spend cash I take the change AND the left over $1 bills from breaking larger ones and I put it all in there. I’ve had it for probably 3 years and I bet there’s at least $1500 in there and I’ve never even noticed it’s gone

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