This post is all about how to build an emergency fund in college!
If you’re a college student, it’s important to build an emergency fund. Here are some reasons why: First, we all know how expensive college is (especially in the U.S.) and the cost of tuition has been on the rise for decades. Second, it can be hard to find a job right after graduation if one hasn’t already lined up before graduation. And since the average cost of living in many cities is too high for someone without a full-time income, you may not be able to live on your own or have any money left over at the end of each month.
That means there’s no buffer against emergencies that might come up like car repairs or medical bills. Which could mean life-changing events! But with an emergency fund, you’ll have financial stability.
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Should a college student have an emergency fund?
Yes, a college student should definitely have an emergency fund! Yet most people fail to make an emergency fund a priority, especially if they’re just starting college or graduate school. They assume that their financial aid will cover any sudden need—a big mistake! Because even though there’s no doubt that financial aid can be helpful, it probably won’t cover everything. And without a back-up plan of your own, disaster could strike at any time. If you don’t have any cash or credit on hand, your choices could be limited to things like payday loans and other expensive money traps.
What are some ways to build up an emergency fund?
College is full of expenses, and most students are already strapped for time. But there’s one thing that shouldn’t be ignored: an emergency fund. Building up this savings account now can save you from a lot of stress later on. Here are some tips to help you start building your own emergency fund in college today.
1) Start small
The key to any successful investment is starting small and saving consistently over time. When it comes to building your emergency fund, the sooner you start, the better off you will be down the road. (And remember that tomorrow never comes). You might not have much money right now. But don’t let that stop you from setting aside what little cash you do have so it can grow over time.
2) Know your limit
You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Living within or below your means is a big part of building and then maintaining your emergency fund. Sure, you might be tempted to fork over that $20 at the bar last night. But if it jeopardizes what you will need to take care of an emergency, don’t buy it.
3) Create a budget with apps like Mint
In the same vein, creating a detailed budget can help you pinpoint what money is going where. And make sure you have enough set aside to cover emergencies while still allowing yourself to enjoy life. Pinching pennies here and there can add up quickly. But if your budget is too tight, you might feel like it’s more of a burden than anything else. (And then your emergency fund won’t be much use when you need it).
4) Save for something
It can be hard to sock away money when you don’t have anything specific in mind that it’s meant for. However, if the goal is to save up for emergencies, it helps to create an account where your money is simply set aside and kept safe. Don’t worry about accruing interest just yet – you can worry about that later on down the road.
5) Start now
If you are still in school, think of this as a good time to start building your emergency fund. Emergency situations are inevitable, of course, but you’ll need the extra cash to fall back on when they do occur, so it’s best to get started now rather than later. Most of your expenses are likely more predictable right now (like tuition fees), so it shouldn’t be too difficult to set aside some money for emergencies each month when they pop up.
6) Make it automatic
Last but not least, setting up an automated transfer system to have money automatically go into your emergency fund can be a huge help. You won’t have to worry about trying to remember every month. And you know that the money will be there when you need it. As long as you set up a modest amount that won’t jeopardize your other financial goals, it should be a smooth process. Plus, apps like Digit or Acorns both make this super easy!
How much should an emergency fund be for a college student?
How much should an emergency fund be? It depends on what kind of emergencies you are planning for, where you live, as well as your monthly expenses in the predictable future. To stay on the safe side, save enough so that you can cover at least 3-6 months of expenses plus funds for emergency situations such as car repair. I know, this amount can definitely feel out of reach. But if you break it down into monthly or weekly savings, it’s actually quite doable!
Start putting money away today!
I hope this post on how to build an emergency fund in college was helpful to you!
And if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to build an emergency fund today, here are a few more points that may convince you:
- An emergency fund can give you peace of mind when unexpected expenses arise.
- The more money you have saved, the less likely it will be that your credit score will drop due to missed payments on loans and credit cards.
- Saving money means that you won’t need to take out as much student loan debt- which can save tens of thousands of dollars in interest over time.
- Finally, if you’re able to save enough while at school, then not only will your future self thank you for all the savings but so too might some employers or graduate schools who are looking for candidates with experience handling their own finances responsibly.
Trust me, having an emergency fund is NEVER a bad idea : )