13. Keep three months' worth of living expenses in a bank savings account or a high-yield money-market fund for emergencies. If you have kids or rely on one income, make it six months'.
An emergency fund is a hassle to build, but you'll be glad you did next time your transmission sputters or your boss hands you a pink slip. Besides curbing spending where you can and setting aside a small amount of your pay every two weeks, there are several ways to build your cash cushion. Some sources to draw on:
- A bonus or financial gift from a relative
- Money you get back from a flexible spending account, a transportation reimbursement account or an insurance claim.
- An extra paycheck. If you're paid every two weeks, you'll get 26 paychecks a year. So in some months you'll get three instead of two. If your fixed monthly expenses don't change, you might be able to set aside one paycheck a year.