Building emergency savings: Tips from the financial experts at State Bank of Southern Utah

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CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — If you’re like most people, saving money is easier said than done, but when an emergency happens, how financially ready will you be?

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PrathanChorruangsak/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

State Bank of Southern Utah Senior Vice President Tyler Brown encourages every household to build an emergency savings fund. No matter where you are in life, now is always the best time to start saving. 

“If you’re prepared, the emergency isn’t an emergency because you have a solution,” he said. 

Be prepared

Nearly two-thirds of Americans don’t have enough money set aside to cover unexpected expenses like car repairs or an emergency room visit. It’s easy to focus on the needs and wants of today, but when disaster strikes, would you have rather spent your money dining out or going to the movies?

Brown said a key step to becoming financially healthy is building a savings account dedicated to dealing with emergency circumstances. Knowing you have money to fall back on provides peace of mind. 

Experts recommend keeping between at least three to six months of living expenses in your emergency savings. Brown said that although many people can’t start with that much, everyone can start with something. 

Make a budget

Brown said a monthly budget is the most important tool for building emergency savings and your guidebook for getting the most out of the money that you have. List any sources of income and all your expenses. Do you feel good about where your money goes? If not, it’s time to make some adjustments. 

“When you set up a budget, it has to be realistic or it won’t last,” he said. “Make minor lifestyle changes that you can live with.” 

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Draw a clear line between necessities and conveniences. While some expenses are fixed, keep in mind that costs such as groceries and utilities are likely to fluctuate from month to month depending on your household’s needs. And beware of automatic payments for services like online subscriptions, which are easy to set up and then forget about.  

Stay on track

After using your budget for a month, sit down and review how you did. Maybe you followed it to the letter and have money left over, or perhaps it needs some changes to better fit your lifestyle.

Unless you have a dedicated savings account, there’s always going to be a last-minute need or an impulse buy threatening to drain your emergency fund. Using a debit or credit card also makes it easier to track spending. 

Make saving a habit. You can build your emergency fund without having to think about it thanks to technology. Brown recommends setting up automatic transfers to your emergency savings every time you get a paycheck or make a deposit in your checking account. 

Be patient

You don’t need to set aside a huge sum of money all at once. Brown said saving is easiest when you plan for it and then take small steps towards your goal. If you’re not hitting that mark as quickly as you hoped, don’t give up. As long as you’re saving, you’re heading in the right direction. 

Every dollar counts. Saving just $1 per day for the next 30 years eventually totals up to about $45,000. What could you do with $45,000 more to put toward your children’s tuition, your dream house or your retirement fund? 

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“Slow and steady investments in yourself pay off over time,” Brown said.  

To this end, State Bank of Southern Utah created the Dollars & Sense online education program that teaches life skills and various aspects of financial literacy. The self-paced learning modules, each lasting no more than 10 minutes, cover subjects such as building financial capability, making prudent investments, owning a home and preparing for retirement. 

State Bank of Southern Utah operates more locations than any other financial institution in the area and has flourished by focusing on the needs of its customers for more than 60 years. Brown said that’s why they decided to make a wealth of information on healthy financial habits available to everyone in the community at no cost, not just bank customers.

“The more information you have, the better decisions you make,” he added.

For more information about State Bank of Southern Utah, visit their website. The bank is an equal housing lender and member of the FDIC.  

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

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