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Preparing for the Unexpected

Do You Have an Emergency Fund?

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

Looking back on my first year at UC Berkeley, I realize that I encountered several situations I wish I’d been more prepared for. Let me tell you about one of them.

At Berkeley, exam season is a peculiar time for students. Levels of stress are higher than ever, and any minor inconvenience that comes my way is enough to drive me crazy. But, life is unpredictable, and you can’t control everything.

Finals are approaching, and I begin preparing for my exams. As I open my Macbook — which contains the entirety of my study materials — I realize it’s unresponsive.

The trackpad is locked and my screen is completely frozen.

Out of all the weeks of the year, this is possibly the worst time for something like this to be happening.

I frantically call Apple Tech support and attempt to soft reset more times than I can count.

There’s nothing I can do to get it working, and a repair would involve some serious costs that I wasn’t ready to handle.

So, I did what many helpless college students would do.

I called Mom.

Luckily, my amazing mother immediately Venmo’d me enough money to cover both the expense of my repair and Uber trips to the repair shop.

After everything, I’d spent close to $300 on an event that I had absolutely no control over. I was able to get my computer fixed and successfully study for my finals. Without my mom, I don’t know what I would have done.

This stressful experience quickly got me thinking about the future.

I realized that I wouldn’t be financially dependent on my parents forever, and I shouldn’t have to rely on them for quick money.

Shortly after this incident, I stumbled on a recent Bloomberg article revealing that “almost a quarter of Americans said they still have no emergency savings.” Furthermore, “one in five Americans with no emergency savings at all said they felt comfortable [with this lack of funds]!”

I learned the hard way that I actually contribute to this statistic.

It took a stressful situation where I needed money urgently in order to realize that my lack of savings could pose a real problem in the future.

What if my parents weren’t financially stable and could not afford to pay for my laptop repair in a second’s notice?

What if it were a much larger emergency that wasn’t covered by insurance?

With these realizations, I decided that I shouldn’t be complacent and comfortable because anything can happen.

I was inspired to start building my own savings fund in order to implement a solid foundation of good habits for the future.

The first steps I took to becoming more financially aware was having regular conversations with my mom about money, because I needed to break past the barrier of not thoroughly understanding my own personal finances.

I committed to putting 10–15% of each paycheck I earned into a savings account, which seemed like an actionable and easy first step for me to take.

This episode taught me that it’s never too early to begin saving,

especially since I’m lucky enough to have a part time job providing steady income every few weeks or so.

These simple first steps give me peace of mind because I know that I’m building good habits for the future, since research shows that without an emergency fund, a financial shock can quickly lead to another due to the detrimental effects of the first one.

For the next emergency, I’ll be able to call Mom; not to ask for help, but to let her know how well I handled the situation.

Flourish is on a mission to empower individuals to establish healthy saving habits and make that feel like play. If you’d like to be part of our first users and participate to shaping our product, sign up here to join the waitlist!




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Ethan Abbas

Ethan Abbas

Student at UC Berkeley

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