College frugal or college spendthrift?
I spend a great deal of time with college students. Over the past decade, I have observed a phenomenon – very few students work their way through school anymore. I know that there are exceptions, but I remember when the college student stereotype was a guy who drove an old beater (if he had a car at all), worked all night, wore old clothes and was always hungry. Today’s college student drives a current year SUV, brand name clothes, does not have a summer job and goes out to eat in order to avoid cafeteria food.
Now, examples of the former student are still around some campuses today, but they are few and far between. Many of them tend to be older married students with children who have returned to college to finish their degree. Ironically, I have had more of the latter students tell me that they can’t afford college while the former always seem to persevere and finish their degree. Let me get off my soapbox before I really get going and let me give a list of some of the biggest ways in which college students squander their resources:
The frugal student eats in the cafeteria (since he paid for it), spends a couple of hours in the library and gets to bed at a decent hour. The spendthrift goes to Buffalo Wild Wings since he does not like the cafeteria fare, hits Starbucks on the way back to campus and plays on his Xbox until the wee hours of the morning.
The frugal student will stay on campus, eat in the cafeteria, get a part time job, and study. If he needs to relax, he will go for a jog, take a walk, work out in the campus weight room or watch television. He is refreshed and rested for class on Monday. The spendthrift college student will stay out all night, take trips to traveling to tourist venues, go to movies and eat out. He returns to campus on Sunday night, completely worn out and falls into bed only to sleep through his first period class the next day – probably a good thing since he did not have his homework finished anyway.
The frugal student takes care of his clothes so that they last longer and tries to find a friend or family member who will allow him to wash his clothes for free. The spendthrift lets his dirty clothes pile up until he absolutely cannot find anything else to wear. Then he takes his clothes to the expensive campus laundromat, stuffs them in without sorting according to color and then leaves them in the dryer too long or lets his pile sit on the laundry room floor for three days.
The frugal college student does no take a car to school, he uses a bicycle or mass transit until the day that he absolutely needs a car. Then he pays cash for a reliable, five year old model that will last at least another seven. The spendthrift takes out a loan to get a car that will turn heads as a freshman. Pretty soon the payments, insurance and maintenance costs cause him to drop out of school.
The frugal college student finds a job that will allow him to pick up extra hours on Christmas and Spring Break. When summer break hits, he is a valuable employee and has no problem finding work. Summer weeks include a 40-hour workweek at one job and then picking up an additional 15 hours at a second job. He stays so busy that he never has time to spend money. The spendthrift is too stressed out from school to work over Christmas Break and everyone goes to Mexico for Spring Break and of course he needs the first week of the summer in order to unwind. He starts looking for a job near the middle of June and is satisfied when he finds employment for 20 hours a week. His paycheck just about covers the money he spends on weekends.
The frugal student uses his time wisely, never has to retake a class and finishes school a semester early, thus saving a great deal of room and board money. The spendthrift flunks several classes because of all his extra-curricular activities and stays in school for an extra semester, adding additional room, board and tuition costs to his loan total.
The frugal college student finishes school with one $5,000 loan which he repays in less than two years. He finds a good job and enjoys his weekends off. The spendthrift finishes school with close to $100,000 in loan debt. He finds a good job during the week and a second job to cover his school loans on the weekends.
Photo by besighyawn
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