Expect the Unexpected – Saving for Emergencies

Planning for the unexpected can ensure that you are able to weather a financial hardship should you lose your job, have a car repair, or any other unplanned expense. By having savings set aside for emergencies, you decrease the need to rely on credit cards or loans to cover emergency situations. Borrowing funds to cover emergencies can create additional financial hardship. Most experts recommend that you have between three and six months of income set aside in emergency funds, but having any money set aside can help when a financial storm arises.

A recent survey has found that “18- to 30-year-olds are the most likely to have up to five months’ expenses saved up since they might have the benefit of lower expenses due to having roommates, living with their parents or being students.” Your college years can be an ideal time to create and build your emergency savings.

If you’re not sure how to start saving for an emergency, here’s a crash course in what to look for:

  • Prioritize your spendingneeds come before wants. If going without something could cause you physical pain or injury (like water, shelter, food, medications or proper clothing), then it’s probably a need. If you could get by without it, it’s likely a want.
  • Analyze areas of opportunityidentify ways you can save. If you cut out a $4 beverage or snack just once a week, you could save over $200 a year.
  • Save extra moneyturn birthday money into a rainy day fund. If you don’t have regular income, putting away gift money or profit you make off selling unused items can help start your emergency fund.

Getting Through Tough Financial Times is a resource developed by University of Illinois Extension to help individuals and families weather financial storms. This site provides information on spending habits, managing finances, and smart savings strategies.

Written by Sheri Williamson and Andrea Pellegrini, University of Illinois USFSCO Student Money Management Center

iGrad

Personal finance is a more complicated topic than many realize. A recent study noted that most people in the world cannot answer three simple personal finance questions correctly. It also has become necessary to educate ourselves on personal finance on a continual basis due to the new tools and technology introduced in financial markets every day.

Fortunately, the University of Illinois has partnered with iGrad to provide a resource for you to expand your knowledge of financial topics. iGrad is an online financial literacy platform with a nine-module financial literacy course covering the following topics:

  • Financial Health
  • Smart Spending
  • Student Loans
  • Banking
  • Credit Cards
  • Credit Reports
  • Identity Theft
  • Your Paycheck
  • Investing

In addition to having a robust financial literacy course, iGrad contains hundreds of articles, infographics, resources, tools and videos to help you make a variety of financial decisions. Use your Illinois NetID and Enterprise password to get started.

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Written by Andrea Pellegrini, University of Illinois USFSCO Student Money Management Center