5 Ways to Build Your Emergency Fund


Do you ever feel daunted by the task of building up your emergency fund?  The recommended “fully stocked” emergency fund is 3-6 months of living expenses for your entire family.  If you don’t have a lot of extra money, that can be a big undertaking. Here are a few practical ways you can build up your emergency fund without sacrificing your sanity.

Cut Expenses

First things first, if you don’t have a lot of extra income to save up consistently, it’s time to cut expenses.  If you are serious about building your emergency fund, you will have to make some sacrifices to get it to where you want it to be.  Making a budget and sticking to it will help you find areas where you can cut back and still be able to save money for a rainy day.

Setting Goals

Setting a weekly or monthly emergency fund savings goal is a great way to break down the total amount you want to save into a tangible, realistic target.  If you are overwhelmed with the thought of having to save 3-6 months worth of expenses, then this strategy will work well for you. Take your overall savings goal amount and divide it by 12.  Is that divided amount a reasonable amount you can save in one month? If not, break it up further. By breaking it up into sizeable chunks, you will be able to systematically meet your goal over time and not worry about how you are going to save such a large amount of money.  Any goal can seem attainable when you sort it out over time.

Make Money

Another way to save money quickly is to make more of it.  Is there some way you can get a side hustle to make a bit more money each month?  Do you have a skill that can be monetized on the side? Maybe you can get a part-time job temporarily until your goal is met.  If you are serious about reaching your savings goals for your emergency fund and cutting back expenses isn’t really getting you anywhere, it might be time to make a little extra.  All the money that you make from this side job should go straight into the emergency fund. Don’t use it for anything else until you reach your savings goals. This approach can expedite your emergency fund status to “fully stocked” in no time!

Keep Change

Do you pay for a lot of things in cash?  If so, you probably have a lot of change and dollar bills floating around your wallet, purse or pockets at any given time.  Next time you find yourself with lots of extra pocket change, dump them all into a jar. Once the jar is full, deposit that money into your emergency fund.  While this approach to saving won’t make you rich quick, it still will help you along the way. Use this savings method in addition to some of the others to really get your emergency fund in place quickly.

Tax Time

Do you get a sizable tax refund every year?  If so, put all of your refund into your emergency fund.  For some people, that could equal almost one month of expenses all at once!  Putting your tax refund into your emergency fund can really give you the quick boost you need to keep you going on your savings journey.

Building your emergency fund doesn’t have to be a chore.  Watching your savings account grow can actually be fun when you are fully invested in making it happen.  If you just take some time and employ these few tips, your emergency fund will be fully stocked and your peace of mind will be worth all the work.

Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Funds

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you had a real financial emergency in your life?  Do you have enough money in the bank to cover your potential expenses?  If you have an emergency fund plan in place you do!  Here is everything you need to know about having an emergency fund.

What?

An emergency fund is an account set aside to save money specifically and only for true emergencies.  Unexpected health expenses, job loss and vehicle emergencies would fall into the category of things that would make good use of your emergency fund.  Of course, you hope you never have to use it, but when you do find yourself in a financial crisis, if you have an emergency fund in place the peace of mind is worth it.

Why?

Well, as we stated above, if you get into a deep financial problem, you will have the money set aside to cover the expenses.  Many people who don’t have money saved in an emergency fund find themselves in a bind and end up having to take out loans or put their expenses on credit cards, which only magnifies their financial issues.  This is a vicious cycle, and it is very hard to break the cycle once you get going in it.  If you are someone who is serious about getting out of debt, it’s important to have an emergency fund in place, because you will have a hard time doing so if financial times get tough.

How Much?

As far as how much to save–it really depends on your financial situation.  If you have a lot of debt to pay off, or if you are living paycheck to paycheck, you might only want to save $500 – $1000 at first.  That way you will have something to fall back on if something major happens. If you are in decent financial shape, but don’t have much savings, you might want to consider trying to save 3-6 months worth of living expenses in your emergency fund.  That way if you suddenly lost a job, you would have enough money to live on for 3-6 months while trying to find another job without any panic.  As with any financial situation, you know how much you can reasonably put back into savings.  In this situation, some is definitely better than none.

Where?

So where do you put your money?  A WCU savings account would be the perfect place to keep your emergency fund.  It’s easy to access online with our home banking and mobile app.  It’s also easy to access while traveling (in case something happens) with our Shared Branching Network all over the country.  A savings account is just accessible enough that you can get to it in a hurry if need be, but not as easy as keeping the money in your checking account or in an envelope in your bottom drawer.  You don’t want it to be too convenient to where it is tempting to dip into it in non-emergency situations.

So that’s the case for an emergency fund.  It’s something everyone should consider having in their lives, no matter what their financial situation.  When you plan for emergencies, you will navigate through life’s troubles with much less panic–especially over your finances.

 

Top 5 Reasons Credit Unions are Great

Credit unions have been around a long time, but what makes them different from regular banks?  Well, as it turns out, there are quite a few differences. Credit unions are unique and they offer many benefits that banks simply can’t due to the nature of their business model.  Here are the top 5 reasons to choose a credit union over a bank:

  1. Credit unions are owned by the members, not stockholders.  If you are a member of a credit union like WCU, then you are part owner of the credit union!  The whole reason for the credit union to be in existence is to assist the financial well-being of the members that own it.  That’s it!

  2. Credit unions return their profits to their members in the form of lower rates and fees and new products and services.  Since they are not-for-profit entities, everything they make goes back to you–the member-owner.

  3. Credit unions almost always have lower interest rates on credit cards and loans than traditional banks.  Right now at WCU, you can get an auto loan for as low as 2.00% interest. Awesome rates like that can be done through credit unions because the profits are funneled down to the members instead of stockholders pockets.

  4. Overall, credit unions rate higher on the customer satisfaction scale than traditional banks.  This is because the operators of credit unions are members of the community in which they serve.  Since they are dedicated to serving the best to the financial needs of the community, they are more apt to treat each member with the quality of service they wish to receive themselves.  You are being served by your neighbors, so the atmosphere seems more like a big family.

  5. Since your credit union is owned by the members and operated by fellow community members, credit unions are dedicated to serving their community.  Credit unions are often involved in many local community events, because that is where their heart lies. Without the community, credit unions would cease to exist.  That’s why they make serving the community through local events and charities a priority.

As you can see, credit unions aren’t in the business to make as much money as possible.  They are in the business of serving the community and helping their members find success in managing their financial business.  At WCU, we treat our members and community like a family, and we would love to have you join us!

4 Saving and Investing Habits To Live By

Would you like to be better at saving and investing your money?  For a lot of people, saving and investing is hard to accomplish, so they just don’t do it.  Yes, depending on your financial situation, it can be tough, but if you take time to build habits that revolve around your goals, you will reach them in no time.  

Here are four habits to learn that will help you on your saving and investing journey:

Always Have a Plan

First and foremost, it is essential to have a clear-cut plan for your money.  Of course, this includes a budget, but more importantly it requires specific goals for saving and investing.  By figuring out how much you actually want to put in your savings accounts or invest in the stock market, it will give you an idea of how much you need to hold back each month for those specific areas.  You can pick any amount you want, just make sure that it aligns with your goals.  If you don’t have a whole lot of extra money to save or invest, that’s ok!  Any amount–even small ones–will add up over time.  It’s better to put something in your accounts than absolutely nothing.  Just make sure you have a plan in place so that you can know where your money is going.

Regularly Contribute

Now that you have a secure plan in place for your money, the next habit to focus on is regularly contributing to your savings and investing accounts.  You can do this the easy way by getting it automatically deducted from each paycheck and put into the appropriate place, or you can manually do it yourself.  Whatever you decide, make sure you do it in regular intervals.  Maybe you don’t want to do it every paycheck–that’s ok.  Just pick a regular time period (every 2 weeks, once a month, etc.) and contribute your set amount every single time. You will be amazed at how fast your accounts can build up with just a little consistency.  

Live On Less

This habit isn’t as fun as watching your accounts grow in wealth, but it’s definitely necessary.  To save and invest money, you have to live on less than you make.  It just makes sense.  If you spend everything (or more) that you make, you can’t possibly have money to save or invest.  This is where budgeting rears its head again.  Stick to your plan you made in the first habit we discussed, and cut out the things that are not pushing you toward your savings goals.  If money is tight, then cut out the superfluous spending.  Things like eating out regularly, going to the movies, getting your nails done and even cable are not necessary to live.  Budget your living necessities (house, utilities, food, transportation, debt) first, budget your amounts to put into savings and investments second, and THEN use what’s leftover for the fun categories.  If you make saving and investing a priority over the fun items and learn to live on less than you make, you will accumulate wealth easily.    

Stick With It

At times sticking to your budget and goals will be annoying.  You will really want to use your money that was set aside to invest for an upcoming trip or something else that is fun, but if you want to watch your savings and investments grow, it’s essential to stick with the process.  You will encounter hurdles along your way, but sticking with putting a little money–no matter how small–in your accounts each month will build your saving muscle and eventually turn into a habit that you do automatically without even thinking about it.  Just like with any goal you set in life, stay consistent and stick with it, and you will see results.

Developing financial discipline can be a hard process to go through.  What many people don’t realize is that if you do a little a time, you are much more likely to see results than changing everything at once.  If you practice these four actions regularly, they will become habits that you will have for a lifetime.  

Get Connected With WCU’s New Mobile App!

You asked for it, and now you’ve got it — WCU now has a mobile app so you can take your financial business on the go!  Now, it’s easier than ever to keep track of your money from any location. Let’s dive in and see what all the new app has to offer.

Home Banking On The Go

If you are signed up for WCU’s Home Banking then you will have access to your accounts when you download the new WCUCU app.  Simply use your login that you would normally use on the Home Banking website, and you will be able to see all of your accounts.  

If you don’t have a Home Banking log in, you must register for one before you will be able to use the new mobile app.  You can register straight from the WCU website at www.wcucu.com, or you can call 256-355-5010, and they can get you set up right away.

Awesome Features

With the new WCUCU Mobile App, you will be able to manage all your finances on the go.  Want to see how much you have in your accounts? Just log on and you will be able to check the balances on all of your linked accounts.  Need to make a transfer of money between accounts? No problem! The mobile app lets you transfer money between any linked accounts. The app will even let you go back and see your account history, so you will have a record of all transactions.  

More App Info

The new WCUCU Mobile App is fast, secure and free (although data and messaging rates from your mobile provider may still apply)!  All you have to do is go to the App Store or the Google Play Store and download it. It is available for both iPhone and Android. Just search “WCUCU” and it should prompt you to download the app.  

WCU is very excited to be able to bring this new feature to our members.  We hope you enjoy the ease of managing your finances on the go with our new mobile app!

ANDROID APP:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wcucu.MobileBanking

iOS APPhttps://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wcucu/id1261054567?mt=8