Maybe it’s time to think about how you can build a little cash reserve fund for all the unexpected times when life simply throws you a ‘curve ball’.


There are lots of things that can send you on a downhill financial roller-coaster if you have nothing in reserve.

Your car, fridge or washing machine might unexpectedly break down. Your computer might die. You might accidentally drop your mobile phone into the toilet. You might lose your wallet. A family member might get sick and you don’t have enough money for treatments.

A nest egg is important because it gives you financial safety and peace of mind. No one wants to be limited in their choices by a lack of emergency funds. If you don't have a nest egg when disaster strikes this is exactly what happens. Instead of being able to make wise, good-for-your-future choices, you are forced to make poverty-driven, payday-to-payday choices.

The following tips to help you get started have been sourced from

Have a ‘red alert’ amount in mind for your bank balance

If you can have a minimum account balance ‘red alert’ in mind that triggers a ‘no spending on anything’ response. It might be, say, $500, or $1,000.  When your bank balance gets to this critical level, stop spending on anything except basic food and bills. Mend it, use it up, substitute with something else, or do without!

Steal money from yourself

If you tend to spend your money unnecessarily till it’s gone, the best way for you to build a nest egg is to steal it from yourself before you have chance to spend it. Set up a separate savings account which automatically deducts money from your main account the same day your pay goes in. Then the money will be gone before you have a chance to miss it.

Careful saving and clever investing

We have managed to build a share portfolio worth approximately $30,000 for our two children who are now aged 14 and 15 – and we did not put any of our own money into this.

Not having a lot of money ourselves, over the years we purchased clothes and toys from eBay and garage sales. When the items were not required any more, we put them back onto eBay, along with anything else saleable (and often from garage sales). Any money earned went straight into a bank account for the children. Each time we reached $1,000 we purchased shares. We have been both lucky and unlucky in our choices, but over the years, we have built a substantial nest egg for our children that only took our time to build, not our money.

Get $500 from Smith Family Saver Plus

Joining the Smith Family's Saver Plus program is a great way to start a nest egg. If you save $500 over ten months with The Saver Plus program and complete their financial literacy course they will give you $500. To be eligible to join Saver Plus you must: have a Centrelink Health Care or Pensioner Concession Card and be at least 18 years old; have some regular income from work (self or partner) including casual, part-time, full-time or seasonal work; have a child at school; or attend vocational education yourself; and live, work, study or have a child at school in an area where Saver Plus is delivered.

Once eligible participants sign up for Saver Plus they are assigned a Saver Plus Coordinator who provides personal support and guidance throughout the program. You identify a savings goal and make regular deposits over a 10-month period; and you attend Money Minded training to improve your financial skills over four informative, fun and informal workshops.

Upon completion of the program, ANZ matches the participants’ savings dollar-for-dollar up to $500 which can be spent on educational expenses including computers, text books, uniforms, excursions, music and sports costs.

Discount jar a great way to save

I've found a way to make my discounts work twice as hard – and earn me over $1,000 in a year! I work for a large supermarket group and have a staff discount card. Around seven years ago I decided to start a ‘discount jar’. Whenever I got a discount, I put the same amount into my discount jar – with the idea being to save towards a family activity at Christmas time such as going to a theatre restaurant.

The first year we saved just under $200 but each year it grew as I also started saving any discount I received from petrol and other similar discounts. Just before Christmas we opened the discount jar and, to everyone's surprise, discovered we had $1,052.75!

Due to family members being away for Christmas, we didn't do our normal outing, so we decided to put the money towards our new kitchen that we'll be getting shortly. This year I have already saved at least $250 in the jar so it should be another good year. I've even started jars for our sons!

Fill a treasure chest with gold!

One year a friend gave me a money tin and on the side of it was printed, ‘If you fill this tin with only gold coins by the time it’s full you will have at least $500’. It really didn’t look big enough to hold that amount of money, but I love a challenge so I decided to find out if it could!

We started in March and any gold coins we had went into the tin. Our goal was to open the tin at Christmas and use it to pay off lay-bys plus have some spending money over the Christmas break.

November rolled around and the tin wasn't quite full. However, when we opened it up and counted our ‘gold’ we were very surprised and extremely happy to discover we had collected $700 in our little tin!

Because of that little treasure chest of gold we enjoyed a fantastic stress-free Christmas! I was able to pay for all the presents for our immediate and extended family as well as cater for a great Christmas day feast, AND we had spending money left over for the holidays.

Now it’s a family tradition. My sceptical husband happily donates all his gold coins to the tin and my 12-year-old will go hunting for gold coins just to add them to the collection! I know that I don’t have to worry about the financial strain of Christmas anymore as my tin has it covered.

Coke bottle challenge

Stashing your $2 coins in a coke bottle is a great way to start a nest egg. You'll be amazed by how much money you can get in each bottle.

  • $350 saved in a 250ml bottle
  • $880 saved in a 600ml bottle
  • $1,510 saved in a 1 litre bottle
  • $1,580 saved in a 1.25 litre bottle

(IMPORTANT: Keep your savings safe by not talking about your Coke bottle treasure trove on social media platforms. Only share with close friends and family.)