There is one common thing that comes up in conversation with folks about money – unexpected expenses. These types of surprises can throw you for a loop and sometimes they set you back financially.
Everything can be going according to plan. However, mid-month comes around and your child comes to you and tells you they need $100 for band. Or you forgot to get your mother-in-law’s birthday gift.
These aren’t major expenses. It’s not like a pipe broke and water flooded your basement. We’re talking about some little minor incidents that you just overlooked.
None of these situations are worth dipping into your emergency fund over. An emergency fund is that big wad of cash you set aside for job loss, accidents, or water heater issues.
What you need is just a little extra something put aside to help you keep up with things you simply forgot to plan for. Just a little extra something in your checking account so you don’t have to worry about overdraft fees if you decide to buy your mother-in-law’s last minute gift.
What you need in your arsenal is a checking account buffer. A few extra dollars set aside to catch those forgotten expenses. This will be your first line of defense against the unexpected. It will keep you from going into debt. And more importantly, it will help you get ahead and give you peace of mind.
So, let’s chat for a bit and discuss how much you need and how you can build your checking account buffer.
How Much Should I Have As a Buffer?
Building a checking account buffer isn’t hard because the amount you’ll need is pretty reasonable. A good amount to start with is around $300 to $500. Since we pay our bills using last month’s income, we have a lot of cushion in our checking account; however, only about $200 or $300 is a cushion.
Let me explain:
For example, let’s say that all of your expenses for the month total $2000. If you’re like us and live a month ahead of expenses, your checking account would have $2,000 for your normal expenses, plus an extra $300 buffer.
For today’s purposes, let’s just focus on getting an extra $300 in your account. You may be saying, “But $300 isn’t enough to cover my unexpected surprises every month.”
If that’s the case, I would encourage you to revisit your budget (which you should be doing monthly anyhow). You can revamp your budget or create a new one by following the Ultimate Budgeting Series. Do that and then focus on your checking account buffer.
5 Ways to Quickly Build Your Checking Account Buffer
Now let’s talk about some ways you can quickly build your checking account buffer. First, set a deadline. Give yourself one or two weeks to come up with the extra cushion for your checking account.
Next, create your plan of action. Your plan can include all five of the methods I’m about to discuss or it can include a few. So, figure out your deadline and create your plan. Got it? Good.
Let’s discuss these 5 things you can do to quickly build your checking account buffer.
1) Save Automatically Through Chime
Chime is the first mobile bank account designed to help you live a financially healthier lifestyle.
It comes with a Spending Account, Savings Account, and Chime Visa Debit card. The best part about it is that it’s all managed from your smartphone.
Saving money on your own can be hard, but Chime makes it easier with automation. You’ll receive an incentive to for paying all of your bills and spending as you normally would.
There’s also automatic paycheck deposit and with a simple button, you can have 10% put into your savings account.
A few of the bonuses is that you’ll get EARLY (2 Day) Direct deposit, no fees, automatic savings, split the tab features, and over 24,000 fee-free ATMs. The account is also FDIC insured.
If you sign up for a Chime account, you can save automatically and build your checking account buffer that way. This is a simple option and it doesn’t cost you a dime or any additional effort.
2) Build up your Paypal Cash.
The theory here is to build up your Paypal cash to your desired goal and transfer the money into your checking account. Easy peasy.
I’ve used this method several times over the years to keep our buffer well padded. How? By taking surveys with Pinecone.
Pinecone pays out $3.00 per survey and instead of redeeming your points for gift cards or gifts in the reward center, you can just do a search for cash and then select the cash option. Your money will be put in your Paypal account.
When you setup your account with them, make sure you select the option to receive 3 or more surveys per month. Once the survey invitation hits your inbox, simply take the survey.
There is no pre-screening (I know how annoying those are) and if you get the survey in your inbox, you’ll definitely receive a payout.
3) Disconnect your cable.
Now, now. Hear me out! It doesn’t have to be a permanent situation. I’m just talking about something like ninety-days. Could you go three months without cable?
If so, this will easily put $300 or more back into your pocket. By doing this one simple thing, you’ll have your buffer account.
However, if you want to stick with a goal of having your buffer built in one or two weeks, you can still temporarily cut your cable. Just save one cable payment and incorporate a few of these other activities into your plan.
4) Look for free cash.
Here are a few options:
- Sign up for Ibotta. Redeem one rebate (it can even be a .25 cent rebate) for a grocery item you need and get a $10.00 bonus. Cash it out and have it put directly into your PayPal account. Total Earnings: $10.25.
- Sign up for Shop Tracker. You don’t have to do anything but sign in and it takes care of the rest. They only need your shopping data with Amazon and they reward you with $3.00 each month. You can get it put directly in your Paypal account. Total Earnings: $3.00
- Sign up for Swagbucks using this link and get a $5.00 bonus. You can get your bonus put directly into your Paypal account. Total Earnings: $5.00
- Sign up for Mypoints using this link and get a $10.00 bonus when you spend $20.00. But wait a minute, don’t spend money unnecessarily just to get the bonus. How about signing up for Mypoints, click on their Walmart link, purchasing all of your toiletries (or other things you need) for the month, and getting your bonus paid out via Paypal! Total Earnings: $10.00
Just by doing these few simple things, you’ll earn $28.25 to put towards your buffer right there. There are so many others out there, but we would seriously be here all day if I listed them all. These are my favorite and I’ve used every single last one of them!
5) Clean out your closet.
I’ll be you have plenty of stuff hiding in closets, cabinets, and drawers that you’ve long forgotten about. Well, it’s time to clean house!
There are several ways to get paid for some of this stuff too. You can sell your clothes online through Facebook groups, Ebay, or Thred-Up. If you have books, sell them on Amazon.
You can sell so many things and anything you sell on Craigslist or a Facebook group can get you cash in your hands today. For more ideas on things to sell, check out this post.
Wrapping Thangs Up
There you have it. Those are my 5 quick ways to help you build your checking account buffer fast. I have done all of these and it’s nice having that extra wiggle room in my checking account.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you think you’ve budgeted, there will always be something that just pops up.
So, be prepared for those little mishaps and start working on your checking account buffer today. You never know, if you do all five of these, you may end up with way more than my recommended minimum of $300.
Do you have a checking account buffer?