We don't need to get a pay cut or, worse, the dreaded pink slip to feel the brunt of the economic recession and realize that we need to have an emergency fund. We always need to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

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You may be on a tight budget, but there's always a way to maximize your funds and still have a little left you can save. To get you on the right track, Martin Lewis, author of Thrifty Ways for Modern Ways, suggests keeping a record of savings you get from scrimping or maximizing coupons and freebies. "It will be very encouraging to see how much you are 'saving' by making small changes, even if you can’t put away the actual cash (yet)," he says.

And if your budget really isn't enough despite all your attempts at saving, maybe you can tap these possible sources of cash:

1. A chunk of your salary. You can aim for the least amount you can spare, as long as you can keep the commitment. To make sure you manage to deposit this amount every month, Laura Bruce of Bankrate.com recommends treating this allotment as you would a credit card or utilities bill that you have to pay. Need real-life inspiration? FemaleNetwork's very own Happy Lopez saves half her salary every month and lives off the other half. "It was a challenge at first, but eventually I got used to my limited budget," she says. If she can do it, so can you.

2. Money people owe you. It's time you work up the courage to collect those debts! If you're not quite sure how to ask your friend to pay up, follow our tips here. When you finally get paid, consider this a part of your savings—don't be tempted to spend it.

3. Extras in your paycheck. This can be your 13th month pay, annual tax refund, or cash converted from unused incentive leaves. Make sure you deposit the exact amount to your "savings bill." Check your pay slip to be sure—no cheating!

4. Cab fare. Ditch cabs for public transport such as the MRT, LRT, buses, and jeepneys. You'll be surprised how much extra money you save. Only take one if there's no other mode of transportation available where you are or when you can find someone to ride with you so you can split the fare.

5. What you save from paying your credit card bill early. If you really can't help but use the plastic every now and then, try to deal with the bill as early as you can. "Credit card companies want you to be late because there's big money in collecting high late fees...they charge you penalties and hike your interest rate," says David Bach, author of Start Late, Finish Rich. Deposit those overdue charges into your emergency fund instead!


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