By Amy Scott, University of Georgia

Aaliyah Pauyo bought her 2005 Honda Civic for $4,000 when she was in college. She, like many other college students, knew a car would be useful for getting around campus and town. But Pauyo ultimately had to pay for the car and insurance on her own.

“I paid for my own car insurance because my parents couldn’t really afford to help me with car stuff,” Pauyo said. “So I bought my car and then paid for the insurance.”

It wasn’t easy for her to get her car, though. Pauyo, who graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2019, said it took a lot of budgeting and planning to afford it.

“I was lucky enough to be able to save up and buy my car outright, so not having a car payment made paying for just insurance a little easier,” Pauyo said.

Her insurance costs around $97 a month, and Pauyo said she spends time tracking her finances and adjusting her budget. She said she’s always sure to plan a safety net too.

“I still make a spreadsheet every month of my income and my expenses to make sure I’m not spending too carelessly,” Pauyo said. “And I save money as much as I can in the event I do go over budget in a month.”

For Pauyo, the insurance came in handy after she had an accident. She said just knowing she had the insurance helped her feel calm and get through the situation.

“I am very glad I have it because one time I hydroplaned and had no choice but to rear end the car in front of me, since my car wouldn’t stop,” Pauyo said. “Having insurance gave me the security of knowing that the car I hit could be repaired, and the health care of the person I hit was also covered.”

Kristy Archuleta, an associate professor for financial planning at UGA, said she recommends that students check with their parents and insurance providers to make sure that they aren’t included in those plans before shopping for insurance on their own. But if they have to pay for their own plans, she recommends that students think critically and are cautious about where their money is going.

“It’s important for students to prioritize needs versus wants,” Archuleta said. “What is a student willing to give up in order to have protection from what could be catastrophic loss?”

Although she said it’s important to be insured, Archuleta said there’s not one plan that fits for every college student because everyone has different values and needs.

“There is no one size fits all approach here,” Archuleta said. “But having necessary protection can help to set a student on the right path financially moving forward if the unexpected should occur.”

For Pauyo, having to budget her expenses helped prepare her for the “real world.” But she said that students who have parents that are willing and able to pay for those costs should let them do so.

“I think it has prepared me for the real world in that I know how to properly allocate money to different parts of my life,” Pauyo said. “But I always say, if your parents are willing to pay, let them. Working hard enough in college to afford things like a car and insurance adds more stressors to daily life.”

Amy Scott is a journalism major in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.