If you don’t have enough saved up for an emergency, you’re not alone. Did you know that 40% of Americans don’t have enough in savings to cover a $400 unexpected expense? Many of us are all too familiar with financial stress. Layoffs, medical emergencies, unexpected home or car repairs – life has a way of throwing expensive surprises at us. Being prepared with an emergency fund helps burden the financial crisis. A good rule of thumb is to save at least three months of your basic living expenses, but start wherever you can and keep adding to it.

Because it’s America Saves Week, we’re sharing a few tips for building an emergency savings.

Tips for building your emergency savings

Open a separate account.

The best way to make sure you don’t take from your emergency savings is to open a new account. Keeping the money in a separate savings account makes it less tempting to use the money on non-emergencies, but keeps it accessible for when you need it. Once you determine your savings goals and needs, you can determine the best type of savings account for you. Smaller local banks and credit unions are a great place to start. The FAIR Financial Solution was developed by Prepare + Prosper (P+P), in partnership with consumers and Sunrise Banks, and is available regardless of banking history*.

Save automatically. 

Get direct deposit for your paycheck and consider having a few dollars deposited into a savings account strictly for emergency purposes. By “setting it and forgetting it,” it makes it so you don’t have to remember to save regularly. Over time, these automatic deposits add up. $50 a month accumulates to $600 a year and $3,000 after five years. You can designate an exact amount or percentage from each paycheck, putting some into your checking and some into savings.

Ask your employer if they offer direct deposit

Save some of your tax refund. 

Use tax time as a way to plan ahead for future expenses. Besides paying down debts and using the money for everyday living expenses, it can be a great opportunity to put some away when an unforeseen expense comes up. The extra windfall this time of year makes it easy to stash a little into savings. At P+P, we promote financial wellness at our tax sites, where you may deposit your refund into an existing savings account, open a new account, or purchase a U.S. savings bond, while taking advantage of the SaveYourRefund tax-time savings promotion. The national promotion encourages taxpayers to split their federal refund for a chance to win one of 100 $100 prizes.

Save as a family. 

Saving as a family can be fun and rewarding for everyone. Starting children out at a young age will help them gain basic money knowledge, acquire skills for budgeting, and most importantly set them up for their future. Start money conversations with your kids and talk openly about how you save for emergencies and big purchases. If they get an allowance, physically let them put their money into a piggy bank or savings account. Once their piggy bank is full, setting up a savings account is the next step towards financial independence. Many banks and credit unions offer special savings programs and rewards for kids.

Find what works for you. 

Not everyone can save 10% as recommended by many financial experts. It’s not a competition, and no amount is too small to get started. Saving can seem like an uphill battle, but remember you are building up to a secure financial future for yourself and your family! Saving for emergencies is not one-size-fits-all – the key is to find what works for you.

*Prior bank account fraud activity is excluded.