Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Follow Your Dreams

Building Our Emergency Funds Without Sacrificing Our Parenting Styles

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

A staggering 40% of Americans don't have enough money to cover a $400 emergency.

That means 4 out out 10 of our neighbors can’t afford to fix their car, get medical treatment or pay for emergency home repairs. How terrified would we feel if our oil heater broke and we had no money to fix it? What would we do if our kids were cold and we had no place else to go?

Would we choose food or heating repairs?

As parents, we understand choices. Choices like not letting our 5-year old play Grand Theft Auto are easy. Other choices are so heart wrenching that we lay awake at night, completely terrified because we have no idea how we're going to keep our family safe, fed and healthy.

We all know that it will take a lot more than $400 to solve most of our problems. But saving $400 is a great first step towards financial security. Here are a few ideas that will help reach that goal without sacrificing our parenting styles along the way.

Start a Side Business


Nothing builds confidence like starting our own tiny business. There’s just something about taking control of our lives and figuring out how to become more self-sufficient that is incredibly empowering. And a side hustle is the perfect way for many parents to make the few extra dollars they need to build a safety cushion for their families.

I’ve compiled a list of 100+ Side Business Ideas that should get the inspirational juices flowing. The idea is to create a lifestyle business that balances our family and financial needs. Maybe it will be the start of an amazing entrepreneurial journey or maybe it will be just enough to cover a growing grocery bill. Either way, it shows us how much power we have in changing our circumstances and opens the door to new and amazing possibilities.

Become a “Hustler”


My grandmother was a hustler. She was always working on some wacky new plan to get whatever she needed. She was the queen of frugality and showed me the incredible advantages of learning how to trade or barter for what I need.

Today, being a “hustler” is really easy. In 27 Best Apps to Sell Your Stuff Locally and Online, we can find easy ways to sell our unwanted stuff that’s hiding in our closets. And in 36 Bartering & Swapping Websites – Best Places to Trade Stuff Online, we can try our hand at trading items or services.

But it can go much further than that! Remember our quest is to find ways to save money without sacrificing our parenting style. So if there is something we really need for our family, start thinking about trading or bartering for it.

What about that friend that makes amazing birthday cakes? Maybe we can trade a birthday cake for lawn mowing or child care. Or maybe kids dance lessons are too expensive, but the dance school needs someone to clean once a week? The sky’s the limit when it comes to hustling! In fact, I just traded services for almost $2000 worth of new windows!

Become a Minimalist


This may be my favorite suggestion. Due to a series of unfortunate events, my family was forced to downsize during the last recession. At first it was scary and stressful. Then I actually got addicted to a new concept: Minimalism.

One of my favorite minimalists is Joshua Becker who tells a story of a Saturday when his son wanted to play but Becker needed to clean the garage:

“My possessions piled up in the driveway… my son in the backyard… my day slipping away… I immediately recognized something needed to change. My belongings were not adding value to my life. Instead, they were subtracting from it.”

I had no idea how swamped we were in stuff until I started practicing minimalism. I remember a Christmas that no one enjoyed because we actually had too many gifts! My son started crying because he didn’t want to open gifts anymore - he just wanted to play with the ones he already had! How incredibly eye opening!

In 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget, Becker explains how less can actually be more, especially during the holidays. I’m a firm believer that everyone’s minimalism will look a little different, so we need to find our own unique path. But if we want to start saving more, we may realize our stuff may be interfering with our parenting style in the first place.

Building a Better Future

We would all like to wave a magic wand and make all our financial problems go away. Until we get our hands on some magic, we'll have figure it out ourselves.

With 40% of Americans facing financial disaster at the next emergency, it's a daily struggle for many families. Some believe that going getting a new full-time job is the answer. But what if we’re homeschooling our kids or have children with special needs? Or paying for daycare wouldn’t make financial sense?

None of this is easy or simple. Yet, building an emergency fund is possible with the right plan. Just remember that if we can manage our children, we can manage to save $400 over time.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.