Having a large amount of savings was the reason I had the courage to quit my job without a backup plan. This isn’t a story about quitting a job to go travel the world — I left because the work environment was toxic and downright dangerous.

I wasn’t the only one who felt the stresses of work. I knew a lot of my coworkers wanted to quit but couldn’t, because it wasn’t financially realistic. They lived paycheck to paycheck and were dealing with debt.

Unfortunately, this is the sad reality for many Americans. I’m not just talking about being stuck in an unhappy job, it goes beyond that. I’m talking about not having the freedom to choose a better path for themselves.  

I was fortunate to have saved over the years, and because of that, I was able to quit.

Saving for This Day

I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t scared to quit. My husband was fully supportive of the decision and told me we could use our savings until I found another job.

We had automated our savings for the past several years and because it was automated, we just set it and forget it. When we finally took a look at our budget and bank accounts, I realized we had a huge emergency fund. As in, we had enough money to cover our expenses for the next 18 months!

I wish I could describe the feeling when I saw that number. The pressure, anxiety and worry just melted away. I was so thankful I didn’t have to scramble to pay the bills right after I quit.

Having savings in the bank is for moments like this, when you need to make a major life decision.

Find the Right Account

I know my husband and I were concerned that putting money in any bank account would mean we’d lose money to inflation. We initially wanted to put money into an investment account, but that meant we couldn’t access it as easily.

We used to have a checking account that didn’t earn any interest and charged hefty fees. So we did some research and discovered there are lots of great options for checking and savings that earn decent interest with low or no fees, like the Radius Hybrid Checking account from Radius Bank.

Most checking accounts from big banks don’t even give you any interest, so getting 0.85% APY is pretty good. It’s not an introductory rate either, but you’ll need to have a minimum balance of $2,500 in order to earn the interest, which isn’t that high compared to other banks’ minimums.

Radius gives you tools to help understand your spending and saving, with their PFM, or personal financial management platform, that allows you to link to external accounts (such as credit cards, investment accounts and student loans), calculate your net worth, create a budget, track your spending, learn how to pay down debt and analyze trends over time.

The Hybrid account doesn’t have any monthly fees and since it’s an online bank, they give you unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.

They also have a high-yield savings option, which earns 1.30% interest — 20 times more than a big bank!

Automate As Much as Possible

Just like my husband and I did, automate your savings each month. For us, automating our savings meant we simply became accustomed to the amount we were left with each month, even when we got raises at our jobs. You can easily automate your savings by select a percentage or specific dollar amount from your paycheck to be deposited into your savings account.

If you’re already automating your savings, consider increasing the amount 5 or 10 percent. An easy way to make sure you’re setting aside money is to automate your savings by direct depositing your paycheck.

How to Set Aside Money for a Buffer Account

You don’t need to have a huge amount set aside like I did, but every little bit helps. Here’s what you can do, just like my husband and I did to start setting aside money for a buffer account:

Create SMART Goals

The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. It’s great to create a goal like saving $1,000, but you won’t be successful if you don’t get specific. This type of goal setting will help you break down your goal, give you a deadline so that the chances of success are high.

Here’s an example of a SMART goal related to saving money:

I plan on saving $1,500 in 3 months. I will do this by saying $500 a month for the next three months, which is $125 a week, or $17.85 a day. I will do this by not going out for daily lunches with my coworkers and opening another bank account.

See how that’s much more actionable?

Here’s to Your Financial Future

I would hate for anyone to be in the position I was and not have an emergency fund to fall back on. Even if you can’t afford to save a lot of money right now, every little bit helps. Even setting aside $5 a day will add up to a significant chunk of money in a few months.

Automate as much as your budget will allow, and commit to saving money so you have the freedom to make crucial decisions (like quitting a soul-crushing job) that will impact your happiness and well being.

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