As a recent graduate (its been about 6 hours since I walked across the stage) I'm swimming in debt. And it sucks, plain and simple. And every single personal finance book I pick up rambles on and on about emergency funds. I know what you're thinking... "Where the *f* do you think I'm going to find $5000 to just sit in an account so that *if* I lose my job at *insert crappy part-time student job you hate anyways here* I'll be able to survive for 3 months??"
Well as you can see from my previous post, I do indeed have an emergency fund now. Its currently about $2600 which would last me about 2 months if I really tried hard to make it last. Saving this emergency fund has been extremely difficult but there's a good reason I do it. I have very little extra money each month so when, (NOT if) WHEN something happens... like $240 for an unexpected eye exam or $400 for two new tires (that I popped) on my friends car or $50 for a new screen window the creepy burglar man broke trying to break in, the emergency fund ensures I have the money to cover the cost without depleting my spending money or stopping me from paying my bills on time or from pulling a credit card out.
It took a couple of "oh no" moments for me to realize I needed some money there for these times because my poor credit card just kept getting hit... HARD. So how did I do it??
1. I came up with some longish term goals including an amount. I feel like having these goals gives me something to strive towards.
--- new furniture ($2000)
--- a new camera ($2000)
--- a car ($10,000)
--- emergencies ($500)
2. I began putting $10 towards each goal into a Tax-Free Savings Account each month.
3. I assessed my financial situation to figure out how much money I need tucked away to feel comfortable and decided about $3000 would be good for me at this point.
4. If I successfully tuck away enough to buy that camera or new bed then by all means I will buy it! And begin the process of rebuilding my emergency fund!
I will be re-assessing this plan in August because goals and needs change but for now I stick to my plan (even though I already bought a car)!! And I really think that everyone should have a plan to help guide you where you're going, even if you deviate (frequently) :D
After thought: While $3000 is my goal that doesn't mean it fits your needs or financial situation. Start a Baby Emergency Fund by saving a smaller amount first like $500. Then build it to $1000 and then $2000. Just put a little bit aside so that you feel comfortable and you won't have to pull out your credit cards in a time of "OH NOOOOO"
Yours in the struggles of student life,
ps. Having just graduate I very very much feel like the debt I've accumulated over the past 4 years has been more than worth while. Education... no wait KNOWLEDGE is priceless, because no one can ever take it from you!