Are you a natural saver? Some people are. Some people are great at thinking twice before buying anything, large or small. Most people, though, struggle with saving. Credit card debt is how some people get by and saving money is most likely an afterthought for the average family. But, if the past year has shown us anything, it is the importance of having a well-funded emergency savings account. Here are five strategies to help build an emergency fund quickly.

Set up automatic withdrawals to a savings account. This is the best tip I know of for saving – make it automatic. You can set up your accounts so that each time a paycheck is direct deposited, a certain percentage is automatically withdrawn and deposited to a savings account. The trick it to forget the money exists and live on only what’s in your checking account.

Budget. This is a step that most people skip over because it seems too difficult. But it’s worth it. If you aren’t a natural budget-er, get a little help from a software like Quicken or a free website like Having a budget will help you see where you spend too much and it will be easier to see where you can cut back, making room for saving.

Cut expenses. Speaking of cutting back, is it time to chop entire categories from your budget? No! A good way to start anything is to start small. Start saving money in small ways that will eventually add up. Here are three to get you started.

  1. Take away one thing per week. Big Starbucks fan? Take away one coffee per week. Like to eat out? Pack your lunch one day every week. You may find that it helps so much you can start doing it two or three times per week.
    1. Make a grocery list before you head to the store and stick to it. This will keep your mind on track and hopefully away from extras.
    1. Refinance your car loans. You will find that saving a few percentage points can save hundreds over the life of the loan. It’s really a much faster and easier process than you might think. And obviously check out the credit union first since our rates are so unbelievable right now!

Keep your emergency fund separate. It can be tempting to dip into your account for non-emergencies. Remember, an emergency fund is just that, only to be used in a real emergency. You can set up multiple savings accounts for each of your savings goals. So, if you want to take a big vacation, save for that in a vacation fund. That way you won’t dip into your emergency savings.

Increase your income. Another method to quickly build your emergency fund is to earn more. That doesn’t mean you need to go ask your boss for a raise. Here are three ways you can earn a little extra money.

  1. Is there something you are really good at and have a little free time to do on the side? Start a side-hustle! A side-hustle is a great way to earn extra income. Choose something that is simple to start, and requires little to no investment to begin, then save everything you earn.
  2. Sell household items. You have money just sitting in your house and selling your items is now easier than ever. Try online options, second-hand shops or a traditional garage sale. Large ticket items like gym equipment and furniture will make the biggest difference, but don’t stop there. Clean out your closets, the garage and those kitchen gadgets collecting dust. Every dollar you get for those items should go directly to your savings account.
  3. Save bonus money. If you get a tax refund, stimulus check, bonus or birthday check, put it toward your savings account. These added windfalls can add up quickly, giving your savings account an immediate boost!

Saving takes commitment and determination, but all of that consistency definitely pays off. An emergency fund is one of the most important safety nets you can provide for yourself and your family.