That’s how long it’s been since our rental home was struck by lightning simultaneously destroying our rental house and our emergency savings account.
Even though we didn’t stop our retirement savings, we put the break on regular deposits to our emergency savings account during, what we called “Lightning Gate.”
As grateful as I am that we made emergency savings a priority, actually watching your savings account drain to nothingness is sobering and the idea of rebuilding your stash is, frankly, irritating, annoying and overwhelming.
Regardless, we knew that we had to get back into the swing of saving money for our emergency fund as soon as we could. Here’s how we did it.
How to Get Back into the Swing of Saving Money
Give yourself time to bitch about starting over again. And then get over it.
No, seriously. This is part of the process. Think about it…when something crappy happens or when you’re sad or mad or feeling things, one the most cathartic things you can do is vent about it.
Forget the silver linings, forget the kumbayah and spare yourself the it-gets-better speech. Sometimes adulting sucks and now is the perfect example.
Once you get the bitching about it out of your system, take a deep cleansing breath and…
Dust off your budget and examine your current spending to get a better idea of what you’re working with.
When you and your finances are operating in crisis mode, you’re just trying to make everything work. You’ve got transfers coming from savings to checking and from checking to crisis-related expenses.
Things are NOT business as usual. Your spending patterns aren’t normal and your mindset is operating in high alert.
Take time to reevaluate your budget and set new goals that include rebuilding your savings account. Going back to budgeting basics will help you rebuild your confidence. It will also make you better informed and better positioned to make smart decisions to move your financial situation forward.
Look for opportunities to accelerate your progress toward your savings goal.
Rebuilding your emergency savings account is obviously going to take time. Are there any opportunities for you to look for a quick win?
Can you tackle a financial Whole30 where you cut out all unnecessary spending for a month or stop your coffee or restaurant habit for a few weeks?
Or maybe this is the perfect time to do the garage sale you always wanted to have?
Getting an early win can help jumpstart your motivation to get back into the swing of saving money.
Put your savings plan on autopilot.
One of the easiest ways to force yourself back into saving money is to put your savings on autopilot. Set up an allotment from your paycheck and/or your spouse’s LES (Leave and Earnings Statement). You can also schedule a regular automatic transfer to your savings account on paydays (read: before you have time to spend it).
Accept that rebuilding your savings takes time and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Emergency savings accounts are always a work in progress. Always. They exist to help you help yourself during a time of crisis.
You got there once, you’ll get there again.
One step at a time.