Tonight at Fusion, we talked about how greed affects how we make a difference in the world. It’s hard to change the world if that takes finances that we are reluctant to give back to God. One of the main reasons college students and 20-somethings have a hard time giving financially is because they have gotten themselves in huge financial messes.
In 2007, Money Magazine conducted a survey and found that the average college graduate leaves college with approximately $20,000 in student loans and a staggering $4,000 in debt stemming from credit card purchases. Due to this immense debt, college students have a substantially less net worth than people their age fifteen to twenty years ago. More young adults are also postponing getting married and having children all because they are overwhelmed with their debt. When the Pew Research Center polled to see what was the number one item causing stress in the lives of 18-25 year olds, they found that finances (debt, spending, etc.) was the number one answer for 30% of those polled topping relationships, family, education, career, and the uncertainty of their future. Over 80% of college students graduate with credit card debt even before they have been offered a job. Currently, 19% of Americans who file bankruptcy are college students (Ramsey’s website).
I see the stress money brings on college students while they are still in school. But you are going to have to trust me when I say that you haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to financial pressure. When you leave college, the stress becomes much worse when all those bills that were in the distant future abruptly become a present reality. I want to save you from making some mistakes that literally could cost you the rest of your life. Even if you don’t see the need now, if you put into practice some of the following biblical principles into your finances, you will be able to give God glory through every spending decision you make.
The first major mistake that college students make concerning their finances is that you spend money that you simply don’t have. From taking out student loans for major purchases to running up credit card bills, college students are targeted to spend money that isn’t even there. Ask yourself a question: why are financial institutions so eager to get college students to commit to their organization if college students are so broke? Why don’t they seek out people with jobs and a good amount of money? In the long run, they make more money off of people who don’t have that many resources.
Many local banks offer free checking only to college students but no other demographic in America receives this perk. They anticipate you getting a free checking account with the hopes that you will then apply for a line of credit through them. They also anticipate that you are too busy with college life that you won’t balance your bank account and subsequently use your debit card like crazy in order for them to make more money by charging you plenty of penalty fees.
Have you noticed the number of credit card companies on campus? The first week of school they offer freshmen free university t-shirts if they sign up for a free credit card. Don’t worry. They will make their money back from you on that investment. Even if students only plan on using the credit cards for an emergency, the newest album from your favorite band quickly can become an “emergency.”
It amazes me that university campuses even allow credit card companies the opportunity to rob their students. The reason your campus’ administration allows their presence is because the university gets a good sum of money for these companies to invade your student body. I have worked with a campus that will not allow churches to post signs about a Bible study, but they encourage credit card companies to convert their students into addictive spenders with limitless credit.
Regardless of your campus’s stance on credit card solicitation, you will be the one who decides whether or not you are going to make it a habit to spend money that you don’t have. Taking out loans, charging all of your purchases, or borrowing money from someone all have the root that you feel compelled to spend money that isn’t yours. You might have a legitimate financial need, but quite often you can get caught up in endlessly spending since you don’t have to presently deal with your rising debt.
What are you doing to combat your greed issues? It’s going to be impossible for you to financially support mission endeavors and your church if you have all of your money tied up in debt, interest, and trying to buy stuff that you don’t have any money for.
Look back at your banking statement over the last sixty days. Have you glorified God in your spending? How have you served God rather than money (Luke 16:13)?
So that’s why Fusion, a group of poor college students and 20-somethings have started the “Give Back to G-Wood” Campaign. Over the next few weeks, we are raising money and sponsoring different families in Greenwood who need financial help. Some of you tonight volunteered to buy a coat, or some food, or some toiletries for some needy families we identified. There is still a huge need. So, are you going to sacrifice for this cause? Can we put our money where our hearts are? I encourage all Fusioneers to see how you can even make money to help out these families. If you don’t come to Fusion or you couldn’t give tonight, you still can give. Contact Hannah at our church office – 864.229.6010. Give back!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.