Financial Food for Thought

As a Nexus Financial Peer Coach, something that I see a lot when working with clients is fear and uncertainty. Fear and uncertainty shows itself not only in extreme situations, but it also tags along with not knowing what to do or being afraid of changing current habits. But 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” and He has given us principles in order to help us both trust and live for Him. Hopefully, I can help you take some of the fear out of the equation by demonstrating just a couple ways to put biblical, principled plans in place in your lives.

The Bible can be broken down into five financial, biblical principles: spend less than you earn, avoid the use of debt, plan for financial margin, set long-term goals, and give generously (see Simplifying the Money Conversation (STMC) tool for more information on this). As college students, our focus is not always on those five principles, but instead on fun experiences that we can create which often requires finances in order to participate. In doing these fun activities, it is easy to catch ourselves spending a decent amount of money; sometimes neglecting other areas of our finances. Please don’t misunderstand me. Taking part in fun experiences is not bad, but it’s important to look at the whole picture which is shown in the STMC booklet, and one way you can do that is by creating a budget.

I once heard a corny statement that actually has a lot of weight in what it is saying. “I am balling on a budget.” I don’t remember where I first heard this statement, but I remember the value that I received when it was explained to me and hopefully you find value as well. While the word “budget” often has a negative connotation, this statement is saying that one can actually achieve one’s goals because of the budget.

As college students, we want to be a part of things that are happening with friends, want to go on adventures, and want to live it up, but in this process of doing so sometimes we can find ourselves either going “broke” or “broke” after the fact which creates even more stress in our lives. I want to reassure you that you can still be involved in these things, go to fun places, and still live your lives with a budget! In fact, you may even experience more freedom (i.e. balling (living) on a budget).

One of the most common things students say they like to do for fun, which includes me, is going out (i.e. for food) with their friends, and there is nothing wrong with that. Although we have to understand that going out multiple times a week can turn into an issue really quickly if you don’t have the funds to support this lifestyle. However, a budget can help and here are a couple tips to start you down that path.

  1. Something super simple that you can do is to establish a dollar amount limit before you even leave with your friends. In order to meet this goal, you can get something a little bit less expensive, split a meal, or you don’t even have to get anything at all. I know it goes against the grain a little bit but think about it. If you create this ahead of time and choose a number before you leave, you are already under mindset when you get there. It is not the end of the world if you go over, but you are actively starting to think about what you are spending, and it can help more than you realize.

  2. Another tip is to recognize when you are not hungry and then to feel comfortable enough to not get anything. Think about the purpose of why you are hanging out with the group. Is it solely for the company of those you are with? If that is the case, it’s okay to purchase something small or not purchase anything at all. I have caught myself in situations thinking I am here to be social and be with my friends because I love these people, but have still felt pressure to purchase something. When I intentionally think about my priorities, I realize it is friends and not the food.

Yes, this takes work and time and can be very intimidating to change our habits, but in the end, it is well worth the time and thought you put into doing it even if you start simple. If you would like to think through more helpful tips in order to ball on a budget, take a moment to sign up for a free NEXUS financial coaching session today: