Personal Finance

Women Are Struggling to Build Emergency Savings. 3 Steps to Ramp Up

A woman leading a meeting in an office.

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Here’s how women can give their cash reserves a boost.


Key points

  • Having money in the bank can prevent debt when unplanned bills arise.
  • Only 47% of women have built an emergency fund, compared to 59% of men, says a new survey.

Emergency expenses can pop up when we least expect them to. Your car could break down and need a repair. Your heating system could stop running in the middle of winter. Or, you could fall, get hurt, and need costly surgery that forces you to miss work and pay off a series of medical bills.

That’s why it’s important to have an emergency fund. Ideally, you should aim to have enough money in your savings account to cover three to six months of essential expenses. But in a recent Nationwide survey, only 47% of women say they’ve been able to build an emergency fund. By contrast, 59% of men have checked that important item off their financial to-do list. If you’re behind on emergency savings, here are three steps that can help you catch up.

1. Get on a strict budget

Ramping up your emergency fund may require you to make cutbacks temporarily. That could mean going without some of the things you enjoy for a number of months. But if you’re low on emergency savings, that’s an important sacrifice to make.

Comb through your budget, or set one up if you don’t yet have one in place, and identify spending categories that aren’t considered essential bills. From there, set priorities. You don’t necessarily have to deprive yourself of every single thing you enjoy, but it would definitely serve you well to slash your spending in some categories and put that money into savings instead.

2. Take on a side hustle

You may be the kind of person who only spends a limited portion of their paycheck on non-essentials already. If that’s the case, cutting your spending may only go so far toward meeting your emergency savings goals. It could pay to pick up a side hustle to speed up the process.

These days, there are so many opportunities to earn money on top of your main job. If you need a flexible side gig, you can get paid to blog, do data entry work, or drive for a ride-hailing service at your own convenience. If you’re willing to commit to a few evenings a week, chances are there are local businesses in your area that are desperate to hire given the labor shortages so many are grappling with.

3. Fight for fair wages

It’s unfortunate that, statistically speaking, women are likely to get paid less than men for doing the same jobs. The less money you earn, the harder it can be to build savings.

That’s why it’s so important to advocate for fair wages. Do some research to see how well your salary stacks up. If you can put data in front of your employer highlighting the fact you’re underpaid given your role and experience level, it could make the case for a raise. From there, you may have the option to pump all of that extra cash into your savings account.

A solid emergency fund could protect you from unwanted debt when life throws you a curveball. If you’re lacking in cash reserves, take these three steps to get closer to your savings target — and buy yourself the peace of mind you deserve.

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