How to Start an Emergency Fund with No Money

Guestpost by James Paul

Hello Amigos,

Building an emergency fund is a crucial piece for your finances, especially in a crisis as this has been mentioned in several articles throughout the blog with the most recent mention in the special COVID-19 podcast episode.  Saving for a rainy day will ensure you are prepared in case of an unexpected event of any sort: Car repair, job loss, medical expense (this might be reimbursed later depending on where you live but you still might need to pay upfront first), water boiler, etc.

See here a real-life example for yourself of how an emergency fund can bring peace of mind.

That peace of mind is absolutely priceless indeed, knowing you will not have to cut on your regular expenses or going into debt to face those unexpected expenses. If you have not yet created that financial safety net for yourself, worry not my friend! James, our guest writer today will help you get started with it!

How to Start an Emergency Fund with No Money

Want to start an emergency fund? Worried that you don’t have enough money, to begin with. No worries. You can start an emergency fund today, even with zero balance in your bank account.

No, there’s no secret to it. It’s actually all laid out in front of you, but you can’t see it. In this article, I’ll help you see it.

How to save for an emergency fund? #moneysavingtips #emergencyfund #savings #priorities #safefuture
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Get out of debt

Repay existing debts and avoid taking on any new debt at all costs. When building an emergency fund, the last thing you want is getting caught in the spiral of debt.

This tip is extremely relevant if you are a student. Student debt is a nationwide problem now. If you are a student who has taken the loan in the past, talk to your lenders about schemes that pool and package student loans into securities.

Additionally, you should look for part-time jobs and similar employment opportunities. The whole purpose of taking the job should be to pay the debt as quickly as you can. Getting rid of debt enables you to save money that could be useful at the time of a crisis.

[Jonathan: If you are not an American student this tip remains nevertheless valid: Do not take on new debt while stashing your cash away in your emergency fund]

Throw a garage sale

There are stories of people becoming millionaires via garage sales. I agree that such stories are not dime a dozen and at times, a bit hyped.

But the point is that you are not trying to be a millionaire. You are going to build an emergency fund with no money. For that, you may have to be a scrap collector. A garage sale inevitably comes in the mind when thinking of someone who collects scrap.

Start by evaluating all the items you have in the garage. Don’t weigh their value in terms of their market rates. Instead, value them in terms of how much someone is willing to pay for them. If someone has long been looking for 80s action figures and you have them, try negotiating for a high price. Whatever little money you make, put it into the piggy bank and don’t touch it until the situation demands.

[Jonathan: Excellent tip and from experience, there will always be a buyer for whatever you sell]

Dining out costs money

The reason people go dining out at upscale restaurants is that home-cooked meals are boring. But are they? Thanks to YouTube, you now have so many fancy recipes at your fingertip. So, cook healthy, cook tasty, and cook at home. You could save a huge amount of money by preparing restaurant-quality meals at home. All that money can go to your emergency fund.

person cutting veggies knife
Easy and healthy!

Most restaurants overcharge customers. They don’t do it out loud as that could warrant legal action against them. They keep it thinly veiled. Give a run-of-the-mill dish an outlandish name, add one or two new ingredients to it, and oh, don’t forget about the personalized touch by the chef, and voila! You have a $300 exotic dish on the table. There’s no point paying for an overly expensive dish that you could cook at home at half the cost. The money that you could save this way can go to your emergency account.

Prioritize DIY

The restaurant example is a primer on the importance of not being reliant on third-party services, and instead, being independent when it comes to doing and fixing things around the house.

DIY not only saves money; it helps you acquire new skills. The roof needs repair. DIY instead of calling up a roofing company that’d charge you thousands. There’s soot all over inside the chimney. Clean it yourself instead of going to professional chimney cleaners. You have little idea how much money you could save this way.

Live off the grid 

Before you say that this tip is not for everybody, a crisis situation doesn’t affect everyone equally. People with expanded social circles hate living off the grid. But doing that could save them a lot of money.

Being socially connected may be good for several reasons, but not when it comes to your finances. You get invited to parties and events. Your colleagues expect you to give them a treat when you achieve success. Your friend is having a baby shower and expects you to show up there with an expensive gift. Living off the grid means not having to spend money or very little money on such frivolous occasions.

person with gift
Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

I am not telling you to cut off contact with people you already know, your friends, and family members. I am telling you to not actively put effort into expanding your social circle as that could be costly.

Summing up

The five tips shared here all serve one purpose. When an emergency occurs, you’d have extra resources to deal with it a courtesy to these tips. The reason most people fail to reap any benefit is that they couldn’t follow these tips strictly. Don’t be one of them if you want to build an emergency fund with no money.

About the author

James Paul is a personal finance blogger and writer who writes at Basic Finance Care about money management. He is on a mission to help people to take control of their finance for a better future.

James Paul

How Much money should you save? 

Now that you have realized the importance of having a money safety cushion, know how to save money, the questions remains: How much should you exactly save?

The common advice with regards to emergency funds is to start with at least 1000$ as fast as possible and to then build your way up to 3-6 months worth of expenses. Here is a useful “highly unscientific quiz” to help you figure out how much to save according to your needs.

10 Quick Questions to Figure out Your Emergency Fund Number

It’s fun and quick to go through, try it and see where you land! And now over to you: Have you ever heard of an emergency fund? Any further tips on how to save money here and there? Let us know!



I would like to thank James once again for helping us with building our emergency funds and see where to easily “find” money.

If like James you wish to collaborate for guest posting or sponsored posts please do not hesitate to reach out by e-mail and of course, for everyone, do follow us on social media as well for more great content, check our FacebookInstagramTwitter, and join our e-mail list. I would love to connect with you!

3 thoughts on “How to Start an Emergency Fund with No Money

    1. Absolutely, I really like that idea, who knows how much undiscovered treasure (/junk?) you have in your house, 😉

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