Having a rainy day fund can make all the difference when unexpected costs come up – but finding the spare cash to build one can be a challenge.
A lack of spare money meant 14.5 million UK adults (29%) couldn't put anything towards savings in the last 12 months.
See also: Free debt advice can help ease money worries
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A further 19% could only afford £50 or less a month according to new research from StepChange Debt Charity. So it wouldn't take much to push many into debt – if they're not there already.
But there are ways for most people to find some extra cash and build up even just a small savings buffer.
Why a rainy day fund is important
Could you afford to fix a broken washing machine, pay a higher than expected phone bill or cover the costs of a failed MOT?
If you're struggling with essential spending week to week, it won't take much to push your finances over the edge, and sudden costs like those above can – and do – happen at any time.
And if you were to lose your job, or be unable to work for a short while, the pressure on your finances to cover everyday costs such as rent or food could be huge.
Borrowing money might be a quick fix for these types of expenses, but most will come with charges and fees. Plus, the costs can increase further if you're unable to make repayments.
But having a buffer, or rainy day fund, will give you a little bit of protection and save you the cost of borrowing.
Ways to help you save
If you find you don't have any spare money, do you also feel you're not sure where it all goes? One way to make sure it's not being wasted here and there is to build a budget.
This can be as simple as listing out everything you spend on a sheet of paper. The Money Advice Service budget planner tool can make it even easier by helping you find all the spending areas you need to include, and adding up all the totals for you.
Once you've got a budget you're happy with, look for any surprises. It could be something is costing far more than you expected, or you might spot expense you didn't realise you were still paying for.
If you can cut anything out or reduce your spend on certain items, put the new-found money into savings rather than spending it elsewhere. A separate savings account should help you avoid accidently using it for regular spending.
What to do if you're already struggling with debts
Though a budget should help you trim any excess spending, if you're already struggling with debt repayments, it will be even harder to build your rainy day fund.
The answer is to seek help as soon as you can. A trained debt adviser can really help you work through a way to fix your finances.
It's possible to get free and independent advice online, over the phone and in person and everything you say will be confidential.
Then as you begin to clear your debts, you can begin to think about how to build up savings to stop them coming back.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.