Handling finances as a college student is not the easiest of tasks. Especially when there are large expenses, such as tuition, which are only paid a couple times a year instead of being broken down into smaller payments that are paid weekly or monthly. I am a currently in my third year of studies at Indiana Wesleyan University, and these past three months have proven to be especially difficult as there have been many unplanned expenses in my life.
I am the proud, six year owner of a 2002 Ford Focus in which I often make long road trips to Michigan and New York. Up until this past January, there have been issues with my car, but nothing too damaging to my bank account. For the most part, it has been standard oil changes, tire rotations, and windshield wiper repairs.
In January, I was in New York for about a week over Christmas break. As I made my way back to Indiana Wesleyan for the beginning of spring semester, I heard grinding whenever I applied pressure to the breaks. By the end of the trip, I was grateful to have made it back safe and sound, but I knew my car needed to be taken to a mechanic. I got it inspected, and they discovered that my calipers, rotors, and brake pads all needed to be replaced. This was not a cheap fix as the end bill was $567. Needless to say, this was a significant amount for a college student who could work all semester just to make that one payment!
Unfortunately, this was not the only problem with my car this semester. Over spring break, my car was idling in the driveway, and it suddenly shut off. I tried to turn it back on, but it would not turn over. With my limited car knowledge, I figured it was either the battery or the alternator (I confirmed with my dad, who is a car expert). Turns out I needed to replace my seven-year-old battery for $140 as well as my corroded cables that complete the circuit to the battery, resulting in another $304.
In these instances, I am thankful that God looked over me while I was on the road, because I had been between long road trips. Both times my car broke down, I had been traveling through Canada only a couple of days prior, and if my car would have broken down in Canada, it would have been more of a headache as I was in unfamiliar areas.
So…after all of this, what is the point? Why would you want to know about my car troubles? Well, in a two month span, I was in two situations where I needed a combined $1,011. This is a large chunk of change, especially in this stage of life. Fortunately, I could cover these maintenance costs with the emergency fund that I had saved, but if this would have happened a couple months ago, I would not have been able to do the same.
Emergency funds are so critical to have in all stages of life. There are always problems that arise with your possessions. This could be in many different forms depending on what possessions you have. Maybe it is replacing a computer hard drive, unplanned car maintenance, or even a roof on your home. These emergencies are stressful enough on their own, and it can take a lot of pressure off if you do not have to worry about financing the emergencies as well.
It can be easy to lose sight of the importance of an emergency fund until the emergency is happening; therefore, I challenge each of you to begin to look at your emergency fund. Do you have one? If not, would you consider creating one? My personal experiences have proven the importance of the emergency fund and have given me a sense of freedom, and you can experience that freedom too. If there are any additional questions concerning emergency funds, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] or the Ron Blue Institute today!