How to Set Your Emergency Fund in College

Posted on August 31st, 2023 College Life

a jar with coins

College years are an exciting journey that everyone deserves to enjoy. However, sometimes college might come with many stressful situations and unexpected events that no one can be prepared for. But what you can and should do is to make sure you have an emergency fund. By saving money today and making it a habit, you can potentially minimize the danger and damage of unexpected negative situations. Here are a few tips that will help you build your emergency fund and grow it with time.

Unpredictable Events

When we are talking about our future, we usually tend to focus and expect only positive things to happen to us. While we believe that everyone should stick to a positive approach like this, you should still be prepared for small troubles. For example, what if your laptop breaks and you need to study? Or what if you have to pay medical bills that you were unplanned? Such things can surely make the college experience a lot more stressful. That is where emergency funds or sinking funds can help.

Many things might require paying unpredicted bills as soon as possible. You might need to repair your car, visit your parents, or go to a dentist. When you have saved money just in case, you have nothing to be worried about. But when you don’t, it can turn into real trouble.

Surely, who would be thinking about savings when they are young and have too many other things to take care of? College students rarely have any savings, especially separate savings accounts. But we suggest you keep reading and learning more about how you can create your emergency fund easily because, in this hasty world, you never know when you might need one.

Avoiding Debt

We also should mention that many people think they can always take credit or borrow money from family or friends and thus overcome hardships. However, we think that it is much safer to always count on yourself and be able to solve the problem without dealing with bank rates, interest, etc. If you can avoid being in debt, you should do so.

There is nothing wrong with having a credit card and a good credit history. However, owing a large sum of money to the bank might really mess up your future budget for a long time. You don’t need that. That’s why saving your money now and being something like a bank to yourself is much safer and great. Moreover, you will also improve some of your skills and learn how to build an effective budget plan that will help you greatly in the future.

Consistent Savings

In order to be able to build your emergency fund, you need to learn how to be consistent about your savings. Surely, it takes discipline and motivation, but being financially stable and safe is worth it.

But how much should you save? How big should your emergency fund be? It all depends on various circumstances and your financial opportunities. Generally, an emergency fund is suggested to be big enough to serve you for at least three months, including rent, groceries, and other costs. Three months is considered average for a person to find a new job if they lost the previous one, and it is usually enough to pay unexpected bills like repairing a car or a laptop. It might seem like a big sum of money, but by gradually adding to your savings account, you will be able to achieve your goal eventually. What you need is patience.

It’s always about being consistent and committed when it comes to bigger goals. You need to make monthly transfers, preferably right after receiving your monthly payment or allowance. If you fear that you might forget to put the needed money into your savings account, you might try automated transfers that will be completed according to your set schedule.

First Steps

When you are just starting your savings journey, it might be hard to save a lot. It’s always better to start by taking smaller steps, thus achieving your first goal – not quitting after a few months or so. And that would be already an accomplishment.

We suggest you start by putting aside small sums of money first, like a payment for an extra hour or money saved on coffee you didn’t buy that day. A few dollars is a good start, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Even when you have tougher times, and there is not much you can put aside towards your savings, even a small sum is better than nothing.

Establish your monthly saving goal – but be realistic. It’s hard to save 50% of your income, especially if you are not paid much. You surely can be as frugal as possible, but after some time, you will essentially lose your motivation due to pressure and lack of treats. It is much wiser to set a more realistic and achievable goal, but one that you can stick to for a longer period of time. In this case, you can be consistent with your savings for multiple months and even exceed your primary saving goal. It is even better when you have a larger emergency fund; you can always count on this sum and be less worried about your future.

Prioritizing Is Crucial

Talking about savings without mentioning priorities is impossible. When you have a goal to save money, you are going to face a lot of choices that you will need to make on a daily basis. Should you dine out or cook at home? Maybe buy that new shirt or is it better to wear the old one? To take a taxi or to choose public transportation? All these choices are important when it comes to being wise about your spending.

Surely, prioritizing essentials and necessities over impulsive purchases is the right decision; we all know that. But when you face the situation itself and when you see that very nice dress in the store or a new PC, it’s much harder to be disciplined and cool. Remind yourself about your goals, try to be less exposed to various types of shopping temptations, and try reserving the needed sum of savings as soon as you can. Don’t wait until the very last moment. It’s easier to put money aside and forget about it rather than keeping in mind that this is what you should not spend.


Being financially prepared for various unexpected circumstances and events, like medical emergencies, device or car repairs, fines, and bills, is very important. It makes you feel much safer, taking at least some of your worries away, which is crucial during the very stressful college years. You can be sure that you can cope with the loss of work if you need to or help your loved ones in case of need. That is where financial stability starts from. We hope that you will find these tips useful; good luck!

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