College students spending habits cause problems for pocket books

“I just do not know how I spend so much money!” said Courtney Bradford, a junior pre-med major, who is just one of the many college students who spends a lot of money.

A survey of Dillard University students was conducted, with 20 men and 20 women, 10 from each class, to really see how much college students spend regularly. The survey showed that the students spend a great amount of money on discretionary things, such as shopping and going out to eat.

“When I’m in the mall, if I see [it], and I like it, then I buy it,” said graduating senior, April Leonard of Atlanta. Leonard is not the only student that finds herself spending money at the mall. Sixty percent of the students surveyed spend around $100 in the mall, weekly.

Many students also spend a great amount of money dining out. Even though Dillard has Kearny, the school cafeteria, students are still buying food everyday. Fifty five percent of the men surveyed said they spend an average of $10 weekly eating out, while 60 percent of the women questioned said they spend an average of $20 to $40.

Michael Byrd, a junior business management major from Atlanta, Ga., said “If Kearny would step its game up, I wouldn’t eat out so much.”

Dillard University students are just a microcosm of the college world. America’s college students spend more than $50 billion a year. The average full-time college student spends over $6,500 a year on discretionary items, said the 360 College Explorer Outlook Study. This money is spent on everything from food, clothing, electronic devices, concerts, and the list goes on.

Some students buy based on need, while others buy based on wants and desires. Joyai Williams, sophomore mass communications major from Detroit, said that college students would rather have their immediate wants fulfilled instead of investing in future necessities. She added that most students would rather waste money on what they want now, instead of saving it for later.

In the survey, the students were asked what they would do on first impulse if they had an extra $400. Sixty percent of the men and 65 percent of the women said they would go shopping verses the 40 percent of men and 35 percent of women who said they would invest the money.

So what, or whom, is the monetary source for the consumer habits of college students? Thirty five percent of women and 30 percent of men from the survey have part-time jobs. Some students not only spend, but they also work. However, 60 percent of both the male and female students do not have jobs. So, what is the source of their money?

Another source of money for some, more female than male students, is parents. Forty five percent of female students still receive weekly or monthly allowances from their parents, while a contrasting 70 percent of male students do not.

Credit cards are also monetary sources for some. The survey revealed that most students, 70 percent of males and 75 percent of females, have between 1 and 3 credit cards. Five percent of the women had more than six credit cards. “Sometimes we would rather buy now and pay later,” said Brittany Blanton, a sophomore physical therapy major from Mobile, Ala.

This luxury can come at a greater expense, however. While credit cards can help build credit for the future when students will need to buy houses or cars, an excessive amount of credit cards can also ruin a student’s credit early. Some students may purchase a lot with their credit cards, but are not able to pay, which may put them in a credit bind.

Students may spend at a seemingly uncontrollable rate, but there are a few things they can do to fix it. has a few tips for money-managing for college students. The first thing suggested is for students to track their spending. There is not much that can be done if a student does not know where the money is spent. Some students do not pay attention to how much is spent on small things, such as food or gasoline.

Another tip is to make a plan. Students should map out a budget, list sources of income, such as jobs, loans, or money from parents, and list some usual expenses. By making a plan of how much money to spend and where it is spent, students can have a better over-all idea of how to manage their money.

For those who have credit cards, use them sparingly. Just because the credit limit is $2,000 does not mean that $2,000 has to be spent. It may help students to set their own credit line, because charging items makes it easy to spend more money than they should.

College students make up a large portion of the consumer world, but they must learn to be cautious of the rate they spend money.