The Importance of Saving in College

by Moises Sanchez

2020 will be remembered for ages as the year of COVID-19. The pandemic halted jobs and slowed economic activity, catching many people off-guard who were not prepared nor effectively saving to deal with these consequences.

While the size of your emergency fund will vary depending on your lifestyle, monthly costs, income, and dependents, the rule of thumb is to put away (approximately) 3-6 months worth of expenses” (Wells Fargo). This is a general rule everyone should follow as it helps alleviate the stress of job loss. Start by tracking a month’s worth of bills and expenses.

College expenses can be a financial stressor due to tuition, rent, and other fees. “Worries about money lead to ongoing stress, anxiety, and even depression; they crowd out the brain’s ability to focus” (Scholarship America). There are many grants and scholarships available to help cover tuition costs, however, it is up to the student to pay additional expenses. Students who do not save prior to attending college will have to work, forcing them to balance school and a job. Julian Ortiz, a student at the University of Illinois who had to work states, “I had to wake up early in the morning, go to class until 3PM, do homework for a hour, then go to work until midnight. I then had to wake up the next day and do it again.” This can be a stressful situation that can lead to an unsatisfied social and educational year.

On the contrary, Jonathan Manzo, a junior at the University of Illinois who did not have to work stated, “I was typically done with class and homework by 5. After that, I (could) enjoy my free time or if I needed more time to focus on a class, I was able to.” Manzo saved during the summer prior to his junior year and because of that had a much easier time during college. There are many resources online, like (see page 18), to help students plan financially for college. Overall, whether you are in college or in the workforce, having some sort of savings is important in times of emergencies.