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The fastest way to build up your emergency fund and gain financial freedom

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How to create a financial cushion

In May of 2018, "Glamour" launched its first edition under newly appointed editor in chief, Samantha Barry. Barry's inaugural edition centered on the complex relationship between women and their money.

A year later thousands of women responded to Glamour's Money Survey. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they had a bank account balance of zero and/or were overdrawn.

In an interview with CNBC's Sharon Epperson, Barry explained how financial anxiety can cause stress: "If you are stuck financially, it can take over your life; it can be super-stressful, and it can affect your mental health."

The survey asked respondents to reveal their biggest barrier to financial independence. An overwhelming 71% said they've stayed in a job because they couldn't afford to leave; 31% said they've been financially trapped in a relationship.

The first step to financial freedom is creating a fallback, or emergency, fund, also known as a f*ck-off fund. Whatever you call it, the benefits are all the same: Three to six months of living expenses saved in a separate account for when life throws you a curveball.

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How to quickly build your fallback fund

To create a fallback fund, you'll first need to figure out how much you are spending each month. With your total expenses listed, then calculate how much money you are bringing in. Include side hustles and any other sources of income. Barry says the next step is to list the essentials, "What would a month tightened up look like?" Once you have tallied your essentials (these are usually fixed costs), it's time to start contributing to your fallback fund.

Look for ways to increase your income. The income earned from a side hustle or a raise can be used to start your fund. Be careful not to spend the extra cash. It is wise to have a separate account for you to stash your savings in.

Another option is to find ways to cut back. Look for expenses to cut down on, like dining out and entertainment. Once you've determined where you can cut back, set up automated transfers. Experts recommend automating transfers from your checking account into your savings account.

Savings of three to six months can be daunting, but it's important not to stress over your fallback fund. The most important thing is not to lose sight of your savings goal.

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Talking money with Samantha Barry