How to Build a $1,000 Emergency Fund in 90 Days

Emergency Funds are crucial to survive life’s unexpected expenses, but where do you find the extra money to start one? Here’s how I turned my medical emergency into a money making challenge, and what I did to build an Emergency Fund FAST!

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Emergency Funds are crucial to survive life's unexpected expenses, but where do you find the extra money to start one? This blogger turned her medical emergency into a money making challenge, and explains, in detail, how she earned $1,100 in just 90 days! #emergencyfund #savings #buildsavings #extramoney #budget #slushfund #sinkingfund

The moment I opened up that bill from the hospital, I knew we were in big trouble. Just a few weeks prior, we were dealing with a cancer scare (which turned out to be nothing, thankfully!, but all the tests, mammograms, and then ultimately a biopsy procedure quickly added up into a big chunk of change.

Even though I have insurance, it still requires a $2,500 deductible before any percentage kicks in, so obviously, a major claim would require significant payment up front. On the bright side though, if anything else happens between now and the end of the year, I’m pretty much covered! Not that I’m hoping for another emergency…..ahem.

Thankfully, Joseph and I have always had a $1,000 Emergency Fund in place to cover things like this. We’d love to have more, of course, but it’s certainly better than nothing. This recent medical emergency, however, depleted our fund rather quickly. We needed to find a way to not only cover the rest of our medical bills, but also build an emergency fund back up again….and fast.

I got right to work figuring out all the extra things we could do to pull in more income. My goal was to see how fast I could earn an extra $1,000 from scratch, and kept detailed records so I could show you how to do it too!

Brainstorm and Make a List

My first course of action was to do a major brainstorm. I took out a blank sheet of notebook paper, and wrote down anything and everything I could come up with to put extra money in our pocket.

This included things like:

  • Household items to sell (things we didn’t need or use anymore)
  • Freelance job opportunities
  • Money making apps
  • Reward programs

I was very detailed in my list, and even went through some of my own Income Earning posts to make sure I didn’t miss anything!

Hustle…..a Lot

Next, it was time to get to work. Joseph and I both searched Craigslist every day for random job opportunities, sorted through our stuff so we could sell it later, and kept a running tally of everything we sold or earned.

Here’s what we pulled in during the process:

  • Sold a $50 unused gift card to a restaurant we don’t like through ($40.25)
  • Sold a couple books through Amazon’s Trade-in Program ($7.46)
  • Sold books, real estate signs, a SodaStream, and a deep freezer that didn’t work through Craigslist ($49.00)
  • Sold a board game on ($18.00)
  • Experimented with, which hires individuals to test websites. ($13.00)
  • Received birthday money from grandparents ($45.00)
  • Cashed out pending credit card rewards ($125.00)
  • Cashed out my Ibotta rewards (if you haven’t heard of Ibotta, you just must check out my Ibotta app review!) ($38.00)
  • Took on a dog-sitting client ($150.00)
  • Went back to my Virtual Assistant roots and did some work for a friend ($182.50)
  • Joseph found a professional on Craigslist who needed photos of items they were selling ($239.40)
  • Joseph filmed peewee football for a few Saturdays ($200.00)

All in all, it only took us 90 days to earn everything mentioned above, and our final Emergency Fund amount came in at $1,115.72. This was even more money than we were originally hoping for!

My Biggest Takeaway

Now, I know $1,000 sounds like a lot, and to be honest, there were a few times when I thought we’d never meet it in the timeframe we wanted, but we DID. It reminded me again how important it is to never let a lofty goal scare you into inaction. Just because something sounds hard, doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

So here’s my challenge to you, should you choose to accept it….

Maybe you don’t have an Emergency Fund yet, OR it has unexpectedly dried up over the past few months. It’s time to set a new goal to replenish it as soon as possible. Having any amount that is safe and secure for whenever life’s unexpected emergencies pop up is crucial to not losing the financial progress you’ve made so far.

$1,000 is a great number to shoot for, but the final total is ultimately up to you. Be sure to let that goal scare you just a little bit though, because I find that’s what propels you forward to actually meet it!

Do you have an emergency fund?

Looking for more tips for how to manage money better? I’ve got 60+ resources over on this page!

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. We have an emergency fund that we ‘funded’ from our 2 businesses. I am actually looking into selling some unused stuff, since husband likes to ‘hoard’ all kinds of things we never use.

    1. That’s great, Ramona! It’s smart that you are still looking for ways to increase your emergency fund even though it’s not depleted.

  2. I love this, Kalyn! My husband has always been adamant about having an emergency fund, even when it would have been nice to put the money somewhere else. We’ve trimmed the grocery budget to add to the fund, but I love all of your ideas! I am definitely going to have to try some of them, especially selling books-did you find that to be hard, or fairly easy through Amazon?

    1. The program itself was very easy. The value you get for your books depends totally on the book. Some books will fetch you a few dollars, others may not even be available. They let you know all that information on each book though before you commit.

  3. It’s always good to have a few side hustle levers you can pull in a pinch. You might not do many of them on a day to day basis but when push comes to shove, it’s good to know you can turn time into cash just to get back to square one. Certainly better than going into credit card debt!

    1. Absolutely! We treat credit card debt as something that is not an option. Whenever something comes along that surprises us it’s all about what we can do to pay it off now rather than pay it and extraordinary interest rates later. Ultimately I’m hoping to get to the place where it takes more and more to deplete that emergency fund.

  4. Well done, Kalyn, and I’m glad you are okay, health wise, as well! We’re so close to fully-funding our emergency fund and I think that might be our big goal come January.It’s just a crazy time right now, but I think it would be a great way to approach and begin the new year, determined treach a big goal! Thanks for sharing all the ways you reached your goal. Very helpful!

    1. You can totally reach that goal next year, Kristen! If you use any creative ways to get there please share them!

  5. Congrats on your successful goal accomplishment and out of the box thinking!I have gotten really serious about decluttering the last year, and until I can walk through my home and smile at everything, I’m going to keep going. I’ve been selling a lot on Craig’s List and have promised not to buy anything new before really giving it a lot of thought and then it has to be purchased out of the selling money. I love a bunch of your ideas and am going to try them out. I have yet to tackle my books, some of which I’ve had since 1968.

    1. That is so inspiring , Sylvia. Clutter is one of those things that creeps up on us without realizing it. Sounds like you are being very pro-active not just in taking care of the clutter, but in keeping it from coming back. Keep up the great work! {Books can be so hard to get rid of can’t they?!}

  6. This is so inspiring, Kalyn! The way you all are digging in and working hard to make the best of a difficult situation is just admirable. And so glad that the cancer ended up being nothing! What a blessing!

    1. Thank you, Lydia. I am so grateful that it was nothing to worry about. That said, I really look up to those people who have had to, and who are walking that tough road when their news was not as positive.

  7. how was your experience with I’m looking into checking into it and wanted to know everyones opinions.

    1. Usertesting was hit and miss. My husband was the one that tried that out and sometimes he would be able to do more than one in a day, but more often than not he didn’t meet the requirements of whatever the testing company was looking for. When it came to action itself it was very easy to do and probably gives you a really good payout for just a little work. I think it works best for those who can check their accounts several times per day.

    2. You have to be patient with it. As it gets to know you, you get more tests that you qualify for. I have been doing them for 3 years now and it is a huge help! I completely funded spending money for our Disney world trip earning $1800 in 6 weeks. That was extraordinary. I had it open all the time and checked it constantly. My family knew i was saving money for Disney and understood that temporarily I would accept every opportunity that came through. I always do a bunch around Christmas too to help with our travel expenses.

  8. Just found this post and it came at the perfect time for me. My husband had a cancer health scare and had surgery. He. Is better now but the bills have not come in yet and we have a very high deductible. Thank you for this post. I will be applying what you mentioned and this will keep me focused to keep pushing.

    1. Hi Christine! I am soo happy to hear that your husband is better!! You’ve got this. You can tackle all those bills. A service that you might want to look into is I’ve read about them and researched it a little bit but have not used them yet. They might be able to help you lower some of those bills.

  9. I have many challenges 52 week, I have quit drinking and that money goes into a saving account weekly. I also trying to sell stuff that I have but no luck yet. I’m sure I will sell soon.

  10. I’m getting married in November 2016 and I was looking for ways to make extra money for our wedding. I do save money but never really thought about doing something like this. Thanks for the idea I accept the challenge.

    1. Congratulations, Catrina! With a few months until the big day you should be able to see lots of extra cash! 🙂

  11. Always handy to have some money on hand that you simply don’t touch outside of emergencies. Love the post – particularly the fact that you took the time to provide links to sites that worked for you. Thanks!

    1. It truly is, Amber. Although I have to admit, any time I have to spend some of it on an actual emergency….I still get a little anxious to see the balance go down. 🙂

  12. What a wonderful post! Too often I read posts that are so vague they aren’t any help. I love the way you’ve actually broken it down here. Real information that is very helpful. Thank you.

  13. We’re on baby step 3 of Dave Ramsey’s plan, so we’re working on finishing our 3-6 months of expenses in the bank. We are aiming for $10,000.00 and are almost there. We are so thankful that we made this a priority. On the same day that my husband got laid off from his job, one of our tires also needed to be replaced. Since the emergency fund was there, I simply went and paid for the tire and didn’t have that stress stacked on top of the unemployment stress.

    Having an emergency fund means turning a crisis into an inconvenience! It has made such a difference for us. The biggest thing that we’ve done to turn our finances is to follow a written budget every month. My favorite way to do that is EveryDollar. It has really been a huge blessing to us! I highly recommend it!

    1. “Turning a crisis into an inconvenience.” I like that.

      Great work on building your emergency fund!

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