Our college group at my church was traveling to invest in some children at a missions project during the summer, and I was driving one of the vans full of students. I had just finished reading Dave Ramsey’s, The Total Money Makeover, and I was befuddled at some of the stats I read. I polled those riding on the van and asked them how much of a stress factor was the area of finances in their lives. I was baffled. Some students already had student loans way into the tens of thousands of dollars. Accompanying that debt, many of them had accumulated thousands of dollars of credit card debt due to spending money on anything from Japanese food, Old Navy, and rent payments.
So I investigated further. 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.
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.
Biblical financial principle of the day: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave to the lender.” -Proverbs 22:7
I know some students have to take out student loans, but many reasons college students are in debt have nothing to do with education. Most college students are in debt due to the desire to keep up with the Jones’ college students. You might have gotten everything you wanted as a child and you can’t manage your desires. Know this, when you borrow money, you are a slave to the lender, and God sees that practice as unwise.
REMINDER: Regardless of your situation, North Side is offering some practical help today in the area of finances. Don’t forget about Dave Ramsey’s Town Hall for Hope 8pm in the Worship Center. It’s free, so bring a friend, a notepad, and the hope that you are going to get a greater handle on your finances tonight!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.