First Person: My Emergency Fund Saved Me After College

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Before I even started my senior year of school, I had lined up a job in what I thought would be my future career. I thought I had everything ready upon graduation for a job that would last me years, maybe even decades, but I quickly became disillusioned and realized that this job was not everything I though it was cracked up to be…therefore, I quit. Yep, I up and quit my first real job out of college within a month with no other prospects before me and no idea of what to do next.

Strike One

I really disliked that first real job out of college. I ended up as a manager-in-training with a large restaurant chain, and it was not at all what I had envisioned. While the pay was decent and the opportunities for advancement were there, it wasn't enough to make me stay.

While it was hard to pull the trigger and call it quits, knowing that I had a multi-month emergency fund in place made it easier to do so. While I didn't like quitting, I felt there were options to be explored elsewhere. Therefore, I took account of my savings and checking accounts, found that I could make it about six months if I really squeezed (and that was without cashing in a $5,000 certificate of deposit I had at the time), and decided to take a chance.

Strike Two

Unfortunately, while I was indeed right about there being other career options out there, the one I picked next was in my opinion, not much better than the first. Rather than checking around to see what was out there, I jumped on another management trainee opportunity with a large rental car company in which a college buddy of mine worked. It only took me a couple weeks after leaving my first job to land this position, so the majority of my emergency fund remained untouched as I lived off of the few paychecks I received from my prior employer.

Sadly, this new position didn't even last as long as the first before I was again out the door. Strike number two. And now I was in for a stretch of several months during which I would have to rely upon my emergency fund while I took a bit more time to consider my options and hopefully find one that was right for me.

And I Hit One Out of the Park

So now I was unemployed again. But rather than sulk at my misfortune, I kept at the weekly job pages, considering a variety of jobs. Several of these jobs were with the state, but they were next to impossible for me to land.

Finally, I fell into a hotel job, making much less that my first job, but I loved it. Without my emergency fund there as a financial cushion, I might not have had the guts or the opportunity to explore other options. However, it allowed me to take on a bit more risk in my job search in order to find the career that matched better with my skills and preferences. In the process, I excelled in my hotel profession, quickly climbing the promotions ladder and building a stable career that eventually provided me with the opportunity to become self-employed…again through the use of an emergency fund…albeit a significantly larger one.

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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.


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