Students’ financial behaviors are getting out of control.
According to the Federal Reserve, college students in America have accumulated $1.73 trillion in student debt as of this year.
Just to put that into perspective, that’s more than the entire gross domestic product of Canada. In fact, with that much money we could double the incomes of every household in Louisiana. Then we could multiply the result of that operation by 10 and we’d still have money left over.
In other words, that’s a whole lot of money.
And yet, with so much money that we have to pay back, students aren’t being responsible with their money. A recent study shows that the average college student spends almost $900 per year on alcohol. That’s twice as much as the average college student spends on books.
While drinking and partying are certainly important parts of the college experience, putting these priorities before school is asinine. It’s also near suicide for your future finances and career.
We don’t make a lot of money. It makes no sense to waste the little money we do make on frivolous activities, especially if you’re borrowing that money. If you’re not aware of it by now, paying for something with a credit card is the same as taking a loan to make that purchase.
Yet, I see the lines at every restaurant in the Student Union packed for the breakfast, lunch and dinner shifts for those businesses that remain open. Parking on Highland is a nightmare if you want to go to Chimes, and Tigerland has never lacked customers.
You’ll find overspending everywhere you look on campus. Eating out, overpaying for textbooks and paying for private tutoring despite the university offering free tutoring are just some of the biggest money wasters I see students doing. Marijuana is another one, but more on that in a later article.
This list is not exhaustive by any means. In fact, researchers from three thinktanks studying educational patterns estimated that "roughly two-thirds of undergraduates are paying more for college than is recommended by a common benchmark for affordability."
I listen to my fellow college students weeping that they’re “poor,” asking their parents for more money and demanding their student loans be forgiven. To most of you, I only have one thing to say: you’re doing this to yourself.
We're already financially limited, why make things harder on yourself? Drinking with friends doesn't have to be expensive, and eating out once a month isn't egregious. But those things add up, especially if they’re not within your budget.
Textbooks are expensive. I think we can all agree on that. However, are you one of the students spending more money on drinks and weed than on books? That’s stupid. It’s also irrational if you’re complaining about having to buy a textbook.
College probably isn’t the right place for you if living within your means is somehow difficult.
As hard of a pill as this is to swallow, you need to constrain your decisions to the limits of your budget.
Samuel Camacho is a 21-year-old economics junior from Maracaibo, Venezuela.