For millions of Americans living along the coast and throughout the heartland, the risk of a natural disaster taking aim at their homes, their vehicles, their families and their finances is a regular concern.

Even if you aren’t in a natural disaster zone, there are lots of other necessities that can pop up like car repairs or a computer crash halfway through a semester. Unexpected expenses can be a fact of life.

A surefire way to prepare for the unforeseen is to build and maintain an emergency fund that’s available at a moment’s notice.

The key is making saving a habit.

Here are several tips to help get you on your way:

  1. Save Part of Your Paycheck. When your paycheck posts, leave only as much as you need for monthly bills and purchases in your checking account, and move the rest into some kind of savings account.
  2. Consider MMSAs. Money Market Savings Accounts (MMSAs) are a higher-earning account that will keep your savings available, but separate from the rest of your money.
  3. Look Into Navy Federal’s SaveFirst Account. A SaveFirst account is also a good option, offering higher savings rates. You can also continuously add new money and schedule the term to work for you (any time from three months to five years).
  4. Ladder Your Certificates. You can “ladder” certificates, so you have them set to mature at different times. Certificates offer an even higher rate than the previous two options, and, if timed right, can mature so funds are available for you each month. Navy Federal’s Special EasyStartSM Certificate is a great option to build into any portfolio.

At Navy Federal, our members are at the heart of everything we do. We encourage them to contact us in an emergency. We often offer special programs, rates, loans or exceptions during FEMA-declared disasters. Whether it’s preparing for the unexpected or even the expected, we stand ready to help.

About the Author: Katie Miller is Senior Vice President of Savings Products at Navy Federal Credit Union. She oversees all functions related to deposit products and services, including program and product strategy, as well as all operational management in support of certificates, IRAs, trusts, savings, checking and related services including direct deposit, eDeposit, and overdraft protection. During her 15 years with Navy Federal, Katie also managed membership, mortgage lending, the credit card portfolio, product development, in addition to analytics and operational risk and training for collections, consumer and credit card lending. She is a National Association of Federal Credit Unions Certified Compliance Officer and has a BA in Math from Dartmouth College.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.