To sport Nike shoes, a Bench jacket, and fine denim while holding an iPhone 6 and a Starbucks coffee, but exclaiming in a pouting voice, “I’m so poor,” strikes me as considerably misguided. Is it just me, or do students not understand the difference between true poverty and reckless spending?
About a week ago I stood at the bus loop and overheard a surprising conversation between two students, one of whom complained to the other about his financial ‘crisis.’ While tuition, books, rent, food, and all the other necessities of city life are indeed hellishly expensive, I could not take this person’s complaints seriously because of his outstanding wardrobe. His clothes were all designer, his phone was brand new, yet he complained about money as if he were homeless. This may be just an individual case, but I hear this sort of talk all the time.
A lot of students misconstrue necessity for luxury. For example, students often desire a laptop for university, and end up forking over several hundred to a thousand dollars to obtain one. However, SFU has a perfectly well-functioning library in which computers and wifi are provided. How necessary is that $2000 MacBook air?
In my own experience, these notions also go far beyond clothes and tech-gear. Each morning I see hundreds of students line up at Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Renaissance, Blenz, and other coffee shops, forking over as much as six to seven dollars for a coffee. To me, this is absolutely ridiculous, and really demonstrates that you cannot be that financially burdened. I can buy a small tub of coffee from a grocery store for that much money, and it will last as long as two weeks.
I often hear my own friends who are students claim that, “if I had more money, I wouldn’t be so broke.” But I don’t think that more money would solve any of their problems. I would go so far as to say that a lot of students would simply increase their thoughtless expenditures if they had access to more money. In most cases it’s not even a matter of having or making more money, but an inability to sacrifice needless expenditures. Do you really need those two hundred dollar Nike shoes for the gym? Could that money not be spent paying back your student loan or saved for next semester’s textbook costs?
No, not all students are like this. But there are a considerable number of students that sadly live ridiculously far beyond their means — and they could stand to learn better spending habits.