Gina Ender | Contributing Writer
Gina Ender: What is your biggest piece of advice for college-aged Christians seeking toimprove their financial situation?
Dave Ramsey: First off, go to a school you can afford. Don’t graduate from I.O.U because that’s what your friends are doing. Second, get a j-o-b. It won’t kill you. In fact, students who work 10–19 hours a week have higher GPAs on average than those who don’t and the reason is simple: If you’re working and going to school at the same time, you have to learn how to manage your life and your time effectively. Watch your lifestyle, stay away from debt (NO CREDIT CARDS!) and work your butt off.
GE: What are some practical steps students can take while they are still in college in order to better equip themselves for finances post-graduation?
DR: When you’re in school and when you first graduate, you won’t be living like your parents. We see it all the time. Junior gets out of school and figures, “Well, I’m already in debt, I might as well buy that new car.” NO! While you’re in school manage your lifestyle. Build a $500 emergency fund and budget every dollar. Know the cost of everything from housing and food to extracurricular activities; clubs, sororities, fraternities, intramural sports and season passes to sporting events. Manage your cash flow- the money you’re earning and the money your parents may be giving you. It will help you immensely when you graduate.
GE: What are common misconceptions young adults typically have about debt?
DR: Debt is the most aggressively marketed product in our nation’s history. It is so ingrained into us that most Americans can’t imagine a car without a payment, a house without a mortgage, a student without a loan or credit without a card. The Bible says the borrower is slave to the lender and that’s what we’ve become: slaves. I tell people of all ages that normal is broke. Don’t be normal.
GE: What are some specific instances in which you have seen young adults successfully handle their finances right out of college?
DR: It’s the resident who gets out of med school and decides against leasing a brand new Mercedes for $700 a month. It’s the nursing student who works extra shifts during the week and works in the ER on the weekends so she can pay cash to continue her education. It’s the person who budgets every dollar, builds an emergency fund, steers clear of debt and makes good decisions about every stage of their life.
GE: What methods or actions should students and graduates avoid taking in regards to their finances?
DR: Avoid all debt (are you sensing a theme here?). Debt is dumb. No student loans, no car loans and in case you’re wondering, no, the free t-shirt they’re handing out if you sign up for a credit card at the off-campus hang-out is not worth it. Again, work hard, stay away from debt and manage your lifestyle and you’ll set yourself for winning with money in the future.