An emergency fund consists of savings that will get an individual through a few months of tough times when their regular income has declined or stopped because of losing a job or falling sick or other such contingency.

Creating and maintaining an emergency fund is not difficult if you go about it in a planned way and make it a priority by committing to regular compulsory savings. Here are four tips that will help you kickstart and maintain an emergency savings fund with minimum effort.

Enlist your monthly expenses and redo your budget

Most people think they don’t have enough spare money each month to put into a savings account, but that’s not true in most cases. Savings need to be an integral part of your monthly financial planning—only then will you be able take away some amount to save.

It’s never too late to start saving, but the first step in the process is to sit down and make a realistic list of all your fixed and variable living expenses. Then, add them up and multiply the sum by 3 and you’ll have the minimum amount you need to have in your emergency fund. The idea is to set aside three months’ living expenses if not more.

The next step is to go back to the list and carefully examine each head to see where you can cut costs and put that amount into your contingency fund. Break down each expense and you’ll certainly find scope to save small amounts in several categories. Remember that even $20 weekly is good enough to start saving. You’ll have $80 at the end of the month when you thought there was no money to save!

Start putting aside money for your emergency fund now

If you’ve been thinking about creating an emergency fund but haven’t been able to pull it off yet, you’re possibly making the same mistake that so many other working professionals make—waiting for the right time when you’ll have sufficient money to kickstart your emergency savings.

Ask any financial expert and they’ll tell you that the key to saving for the long term lies in starting early and saving small amounts that will add up to a significant sum down the line. When you start small, the greatest benefit is that the savings don’t cause a cash crunch and you can go about your life as usual.

The best way to build an emergency fund is to open a new savings account with your bank or credit union. You can set up weekly, fortnightly or monthly automatic transfer from your checking account to this account—this way you’ll be saving money without even realizing it.

You can also use technology to get into the habit of making compulsory savings. Explore money management applications and you’ll find that there are apps out there that will take a small sum every day or every week from your main account into a savings account or that will round up your purchases and place those tiny amounts into a savings account.

Create small goals that you can achieve without stretching yourself too thin. These small yet significant accomplishments will motivate you to manage your money better and spend and save in a balanced manner.

Send all extra income to your emergency fund

Whether it’s a tax refund, income from a side hustle or your yearly bonus, all of these can be used to beef up your emergency fund. The key is to be willing to compromise and avoiding unnecessary large expenses until you have saved enough for tough times. Once you have the peace of mind that there is enough in your savings account for the proverbial rainy day, you will feel more in control of your finances.

Instant cash loan to meet unexpected expenses

If a situation arises where you need to arrange funds instantly but would rather not use your credit card, you can consider taking out a short-term cash loan, such as a payday loan, which comes with the condition that you’ll repay it when your next pay is credited into your account. The repayment period of such cash in advance loans can be extended; however, be sure to check the interest rate that will be charged in case you’re unable to repay as agreed.

If you’re inclined to take out a cash loan to get through a temporary cash crunch, be sure to first explore several different lending companies and compare their offers, interest rates and repayment terms before taking out a loan.