How to Build an Emergency on Autopilot

How to build an emergency fund

Sounds impossible, right? Well, hear me out, because getting into the habit of shopping for your everyday items in a different way can help you learn how build up a healthy emergency fund without hardly any effort. 




Your airline partner can offer you rewards to use for your travels. At the same time, this similar form of shopping can help you build up a buffer in case the unexpected happens. But first…

Why an emergency fund?

An emergency fund is for precisely that—emergencies. It’s an account that shouldn’t be touched unless there’s an urgent need to do so. I’m no financial adviser, but I believe you should have an emergency fund set aside before you start investing money elsewhere. I know, doesn’t sound like much fun, but it can be.

What an emergency fund buys you is priceless peace of mind. In his brilliant and best-selling book, The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape calls this your “mojo account.” By having mojo stashed away, you can have quiet confidence knowing that if the shit hits the fan, you’ve got this. 


My mojo account isn’t a bank account but a micro-investing app called Raiz. Raiz is a break-away company from the US app Acorns, which is not yet available in Canada, the UK, or the EU at the time of writing. Raiz is currently available in Australia, Indonesia, and Malaysia, with further plans for expansion.   

Note: The same investment strategy for Raiz also applies to Acorns. They both have a similar rewards shopping feature.

Micro-investing on autopilot

These micro-investing apps link to your bank account, debit, or credit card. Every time you purchase something, they round up to the nearest dollar and invest the difference/small change into a fund of your choosing. You hardly notice it as it’s such a small amount—out of sight, out of mind.


Raiz offers three different types of funds, ranging from conservative to high-risk/high-reward. I’m not risk-averse, so I go for risky, which has a 10% weighting in Bitcoin, which has served me pretty well. The idea is to set and forget. Raiz charges me a $3.50 monthly maintenance charge, but I have found the compound interest earned over the long run still makes this worth it.

Acorns Rewards & Raiz Rewards

Raiz and Acorns have their own rewards system. Like the Qantas Online Mall, Raiz partners with countless retailers and service providers. These include:


  • Fashion
  • Electronics
  • Technology
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Insurance
  • Accounting
  • Dental


And more! You can find just about any product or service that you purchase anyway, so doesn’t it make sense to be rewarded for it?



When you buy through the Raiz Rewards Store, a percentage of your purchase is invested back into your Raiz account. Like the airline shopping rewards, how much is invested depends upon the retailer. They also hold limited-time promotions offering double the investment amount.

How to use Acorns rewards

When you open an account with your micro-investing app, deposit $1000 in to kickstart it, if you can. If not, just deposit whatever you can afford. Link it to your spending account or debit card, and then whenever you need to buy something, be it a product or a service, check to see if it’s available through the Raiz or Acorns Rewards store first. 


Not only will you get a small portion of your money back and invested for you, the charge from your debit or credit card you used to pay for the item will also be invested. This adds up over the long run, and before you know it, you will have mojo! 

Develop a points mindset

Like I said previously, learning how to build an emergency fund (AKA a buffer or mojo) offers priceless peace of mind. But when you’re traveling and living overseas, that peace of mind is amplified by 10. So go ahead and put your buffer on autopilot.


Using reward points has become second nature to me. I hardly ever pay for a product or service unless I’m rewarded for it. This is not being a tight ass, it’s acting smart with my money. I don’t know how much money I’ve saved over the years through reward points, but I do know that I wouldn’t have traveled nearly as much, work from anywhere  and had as much fun doing so, without doing so.

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