How would you describe financial freedom? While some people think of retiring in their 30s, most would settle for having a substantial savings account. Savings are there to bail you out in an unexpected emergency, so you aren’t stuck deciding between paying the water bill and an urgent plumbing repair. 

This seemingly modest goal can be hard to achieve. It’s easy to believe that you’ll have to change your life drastically to save more, like moving to a cheaper town or juggling two side hustles

In reality, you don’t have to transform your life from top to bottom. Today’s little modifications can help you pack away more money into an emergency fund.

Why Are Emergency Savings So Important? 

Living without this fund is like living life on the hardest setting. You’ll be unprepared for any expense you didn’t anticipate in your budget. 

You’ve probably run into some of these surprises already this year. Things like your car breaking down, your roof leaking, or your dog eating chocolate could be an emergency when you don’t have savings. 

How can you take on a $500 auto repair or vet bill? In these stressful emergencies, online direct lenders can help.

You can find direct lender loans online whenever you get a spare moment. You can even rate shop while you’re sitting in the vet’s waiting room, as many online direct lenders provide installment loans by phone.

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But like any personal loan, installment loans come with fees and interest. Depending on your financial information or credit score, these charges may be nominal, or they can equal to triple-digit APRs. If you don’t have a lot of options, borrowing can wind up costing you a lot more than the upfront price of your emergency expense.

Tips That Make Saving Easier

While borrowing is helpful in an emergency, you can avoid these extra charges by paying for your next emergency with savings.

So, what can you do to make an emergency fund a reality, not just a financial-freedom fantasy? Try these surprisingly simple tips.

1. Call Your Utility Providers

Utility, Internet, and phone bills don’t have to take up a huge chunk of your monthly paycheck. You may be able to lower these bills without cancelling by tapping into the art of negotiation

While there are bill negotiation services available, they come at a cost. To save as much of your hard-earned cash, learn how to negotiate on your own by following this guideline. 

2. Leverage Loyalty Cards

There’s no getting around buying groceries. You have to eat, so you’re always going to have to budget for filling your fridge. 

Since you’re paying for groceries anyways, you might as well get rewarded for it. You can earn points by shopping with a store’s loyalty card, which you can redeem for free groceries. The same goes for the major gas stations.

Just make sure you don’t charge more than you can afford to pay off by your next bill to save on interest.

3. Eat Less Meat 

Have you noticed your chicken legs and pork chops are costing more this year? That’s because inflation is raising the price on most foods, but it’s especially harsh on meat. 

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Embracing a more plant-based diet can help you diversify your diet and avoid “meatflation”. Stick to hearty and cheap legumes, splurging on meat on special occasions. 

4. Stream for Free

It’s easy to collect a long list of subscriptions to keep up on the latest TV shows and movies. But did you know you don’t need Netflix or Prime to watch the latest releases? 

If you have a library card, you can access free streaming services like Kanopy, Hoopla, and AcornTV. With this free content, you can easily cancel most streaming services and save your money.

5. Carpool 

Fuel is another big drain on budgets across the country as gas prices keep on climbing. The easiest way to avoid inflation at the pumps is by parking your car. Of course, for those who rely on their vehicle to get to work, this may not be possible. 

Carpooling is the next best thing. Talk to friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers to see if you can coordinate trips and split the bill. If you don’t live close to anyone you know, you can find like-minded carpoolers online through local community pages, apps, and Reddit. 

6. Batch Cook Your Meals

Takeout, ready meals, and food subscription boxes take a gigantic bite out of your budget. A homecooked meal will always be the cheapest way to eat, so try to get into the kitchen more.

If you’re finding it hard to find the energy to cook dinner after work, batch cooking can help you avoid the temptation of calling out. Prepare large, freezable meals on a weekend (or any day you have the time) and set aside a few portions. You can pull out these frozen meals any time you don’t have time or patience to cook during the week.

Bottom Line: A Little Goes a Long Way

The road to financial freedom doesn’t have to involve drastic transformations and sacrifices. Making minor changes to multiple areas of your life can add up, unearthing the cash you’ve been dreaming of saving.