Spending Tips for the College Student

October 06, 2016

College life can be a little tough on us when it interferes with our time management, social events, church functions, and especially bank accounts. College is a great investment into our futures and our growth/development into who we are, but I believe that there are ways to save money and be savvier in our spending to reduce the amount of debt that most college students inevitably accumulate in those years. The Bible is our roadmap to heaven and daily life, and it’s what God uses to speak to us. So it is only fitting that we turn there for financial advice as well as any other advice we may need. What does the Bible have to say about our finances?

“And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord” (Matthew 25:20-21).

Throughout the Bible, we see we are expected to be wise stewards of what has been given to us. Whether you have 1 talent or 5 talents, $100 or $1 million, what you do with that money and where it goes determines how blessed you will be. With that in mind, I have compiled 10 tips to help the college student organize their finances:

  1. Give your tithes and offerings first. Tithes and offerings belong to God from the get-go. Giving those back first is essential in making sure that the 90% you keep is blessed and that you are blessing others in the process as well.
  2. Pay yourself. One of the hardest words to incorporate into our daily spending plan is “savings.” It’s not the most fun thing to do, but it’s VERY important. Make it a habit by setting aside a certain amount from each paycheck, and think of it as you paying your future self. Most banks have a function you can set up for an immediate withdrawal from your checking to your savings account every week or month. Saving a small amount each week will add up in the long run and allow you to have a cushion for emergencies.
  3. Have a spending plan. The word budget has so many negative connotations, and all I can think about are the restrictions that go along with that word. Instead, opt to call it a “spending plan” (it sounds SO much better to my ears). There are many online resources you can find to help you evaluate the ins and outs of your spending and help you determine where your money is going. Once you see it on paper, it is easier to adjust the areas you want to change.
  4. Get organized. It is important to pay your bills on time. Having a planner or calendar set up with reminders of when each bill is due is a great way to stay organized and make sure that nothing escapes your notice and goes unpaid. Juggling a full schedule of classes and work may cause some things to slip your attention, so write it all down.
  5. Avoid full-price textbooks (full-price anything!). I believe the internet has spoiled me. With so many reselling options such as eBay, Amazon, etc., paying full price for a textbook at the school bookstore is not something I want to do. Renting textbooks is a great option if you know you won’t be keeping it after your semester is over. Also, if an e-book version is available, it is usually cheaper, and you don’t have to carry anything heavy around . . . A win-win in my book! Poshmark is also quickly becoming a clothing app favorite of mine.
  6. Be mobile with your accounts. Technology makes keeping tabs on our accounts so easy and convenient. Check your balance, make some payments, transfer money, deposit checks; you can do all of these things from your desk at school if needed. This is also a great way to avoid overdraft fees + ATM fees. Download any apps you may need to make payments, and pay your bills online to save time and gas.
  7. Search for coupons/discount codes/student discounts. There are so many ways to save for small purchases that go unnoticed. There are websites that offer student discounts for clothing or technology that simply require you to have a student email. Groupons are also a great way to plan small adventures or dinner out with friends.
  8. Set a limit. Say, $50 . . . If it costs more than $50, ask yourself if you really need it. I have found that sometimes being an impulsive shopper will give you the immediate thrill of owning something new, but by the time you get home, it’s not that exciting anymore, and you don’t love it as much now that you own it. Sometimes, just waiting for things to go on sale will give you time to think over your purchase and decide if you completely love it still or if it’s just something you want to own. Also, return things that you changed your mind about!
  9. Stay away from the mall. Simply getting yourself out of temptation’s way will keep your wallet in much better conditions. If you are saving or know you don’t have much to spend, avoid the stores that you will be tempted to buy from, and occupy yourself elsewhere.
  10. Don’t compare yourself to others. Above all else, living a contented life is essential, and you must be grateful for the things you have been blessed with. Comparison is the thief of joy, and when we yearn for another’s lifestyle, there is no joy. Keeping Jesus as the main focus for our daily lives will teach us to enjoy each day and count our blessings.