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i This applies across the UK.

Saving money and increasing income

Saving for emergencies or a rainy day

Most of us have to deal with unexpected costs at some point. This can be harder if you are on a tight income.

These costs can push people into debt. Or make an existing debt problem worse.

Having money in an emergency fund can help.

Here are our tips to help you save.

We know that this can be a lot harder for some than for others. If you are:


  1. Regularly review your spending against your monthly budget
  2. Put any small change you get throughout the day in a jar
  3. Save up your coins digitally
  4. Get money off your bills and online purchases
  5. Keep your savings separate from your spending
  6. Pay priority debts before saving for your emergency fund

What are unexpected or emergency costs?

There are any number of costs a person may have to deal with. Small or large, short-term and long-term.

It could be that you need to:

  • Fix a fridge
  • Buy a new boiler
  • Repair your car
  • Pay more rent after a partner moves out
  • Have emergency dental work

Having money saved is a huge help in these situations.

Taking out credit can seem like your only option without savings. But this could be worse for your finances in the longer term.

How much should be in my emergency fund?

Aim for your fund to cover at least three months of living expenses.

It may take a while, but something is better than nothing.

Emergencies or unemployment can happen without warning, at the worst times.

Are you struggling with the rising cost of living? Read our guide.

What if I cannot afford to start saving?

Saving money is harder if you have debt or you are living on a tight budget.

Start small

  • Begin with spare change
  • Any amount of money adds up

Allow time for savings to build

  • You cannot have a ‘full savings pot’ by next week or next month
  • Do not put that pressure on yourself

Look at ways to ‘maximise your income’. 

Follow these tips to save money for a rainy day

Regularly review your spending against your monthly budget

You may see ways to save by checking your monthly spending. 

Follow our budgeting guide for help.

Put any small change you get throughout the day in a jar

Put the coins into a savings account at the end of the month.

You must sort your coins before you take them to the bank.

  • You need to use plastic deposit bags if you pay in over the counter
    • Ask for these at your branch
  • Other rules include:
    • Five pence coins must be in their own bag
    • Bags must have £5 of coins before you can deposit
    • Some banks only let you pay in five bags at a time

Banks do not charge for depositing coins. But they may refuse to take them if it is busy.

Some supermarkets have coin deposit machines.

  • These give you bank notes in exchange for coins
  • These machines charge a fee of around 7p per £1

Save up your coins digitally

Banking apps can help keep track of spending.

They might:

  • ‘Round up’ each purchase to the nearest pound
  • Put the difference into a digital savings pot

You can either:

  • Access your savings pot at any time or
  • ‘Lock it off’ for a later date

These apps are often free to use.

Get money off your bills and online purchases

Price-compare your utility bills and mobile phone contracts.

Challenge your provider if you feel you are being over-charged.

Pay money you earn from cashback sites into your savings account.

Keeping your savings separate from your spending

It can be tempting to dip into your savings as they grow.

Make sure you:

  • Keep your emergency fund separate from other accounts
  • Only use the money in a true emergency

Open a separate bank or savings account

You could open a basic bank account. These have:

  • No overdraft facility
  • None of the extras you get with a current account

They give you somewhere ‘safe’ to store your savings.

You will also get:

  • Access to internet banking
  • A contactless debit card
  • The option to set up Direct Debits

You may be able to open a savings account with your current bank account. This earns interest on savings.

Make sure you use an 'instant access' savings account.

  • You do not want your money locked into a savings account or invested
  • You need to get your money fast in an emergency

Speak to your local credit union

Many people choose a credit union for a savings account.

Your employer may let you pay into a credit union account from your wages.

This helps stop you spending money meant for emergencies.

Save your coins in a lockbox

Having your savings to hand can be reassuring. You can:

  • Access them whenever you want
  • See your progress based on how full your jar becomes over time

If you want to get your children involved with saving money, you could:

  • Decorate the jars
  • Try some fun saving challenges

Use the Help to Save scheme

If you get Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit, you may be able to open a Help to Save account.

This is a government-funded scheme that:

  • Helps people on low incomes
  • Boosts your savings by 50p for every £1 saved

Read more about the Help to Save Scheme to find out if it applies to you.

Pay priority debts before saving for your emergency fund

Make sure you cover your priority debts. before you start saving.

Priority debts include:

  • Mortgage or rent
  • Child maintenance
  • Council tax

You should also pay high interest debts like loans or credit cards.

I have an emergency and no money to cover it – what can I do?

Help may be available.

Emergency money assistance schemes can help if you cannot buy basics like:

  • Food
  • Fuel
  • Other expenses

Do not wait to get expert advice on dealing with money worries.

When you come to us for help, we will:

  • Work through your budget with you
  • Give you recommendations on how to deal with your debts. Based on your circumstances

Get free debt advice online.

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