SSU of the Month: Sara

“Overcoming Temptations in College: Getting into Debt”

image: Single Sisters in University

Sisters, meet Sara, a former SSU.
Our discussion of the day is on debt. Outside of tuition loans, students can easily get into debt  (e.g. credit card debt, loan from family and/or friend) depending on the situation they find themselves in. Sara went through financial struggles all through her undergraduate and graduate school seasons, let’s see how she dealt with the temptation of getting into debt.

How was your financial condition in school?
My financial condition in school was pretty tight. My tuition was covered by my parents, the part-time job I had was just enough to take care of rent and groceries; I didn’t have much savings. Yes, it was tight.

Can you name a few examples of the financial challenges you faced?
Depending on the activities I had during a month, I could face one challenge or the other. If a particular month happened to be a time of birthdays (friends or family) then my grocery expense would be cut. Due to the high cost of textbooks, I sometimes shared a book with a friend or borrowed a book from someone who had already taken the course. Another examples is when I was preparing for my Bachelor’s graduation, I didn’t have the money to afford a photo session for my graduate composite.

How did you deal with your financial challenges?
I learnt to live with the little I had. I don’t usually like asking for money to my parents, but at two or three occasions, when the situation was so critical, I would give them a little hint during our phone conversation. Going back to the graduate composite, that was the one and only time I openly asked my sister for money. But on a normal day, I just managed with the little I had and found ways to make things work, like borrowing books from classmates.

Didn’t you want to resort to credit cards or get an additional a job to ease your situation?
I know that getting a credit card builds one’s credit score but when you don’t have the money to pay back, why get into trouble? I was just managing with the little I had, I didn’t want to add more problems. The charm of a credit card is that it enables you to buy what you want, but if there is no money to pay back your expenses, it’s useless to get them. I couldn’t get an additional job because I was already super busy in school, even just having my part-time work took a lot time away from school, so I didn’t want more busyness.

You mentioned taking money from your sister, was there ever a temptation to borrow money from other family members or friends?
I never borrowed or asked money to any relative or friend. I always feel uncomfortable to do so, not just for me but also for the other person. It’s never been a behavior that I was brought up with anyways. My parents always taught my siblings and I to reach out to them when in financial need. That being said, even if my parents gave us that permission, I didn’t always want to bother them with my financial struggles unless it was critical.

Romans 13:8 says “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” What’s your take on this verse?
The passage means that we should not owe anyone money or any other things except what’s most important, the duty to love everyone.This is a verse that was at the back of my mind when I was in school; though at the time I didn’t quite get the seriousness of the verse. But over the years, I have come to understand that God wants us to be blameless. It doesn’t look good when we borrow money from individuals in time of need, I don’t see it in the Bible. We pray to God, yes, and He will touch someone to bless us. After my Master’s graduation, I lived several months jobless and I applied the Roman verse. I can testify that God provided for my needs one way or the other without me voicing out my needs to anyone. When we honor the Lord, He honors us back.

Given what you’ve said, what helped you not to get into debt as a student?
Definitely living within my means. Most of the times when we get into debts, it’s usually because we want to afford things that are outside our reach. I mean I had reasonable needs in school, however, the Lord taught me to be patient and wait upon His salvation time. Other times we get into debts because of mismanagement of funds; a lot of students don’t know how to correctly manage their finances and I was a guilty of that at times. It’s something to really watch out for.

Any financial advice to SSU?
I will advise the ladies to trust in the Lord and live according to the Word of God. That Romans 13:8 verse is very important, if the Lord said it, He must serious about it. Live within your means, don’t be lured by friends or credit cards. When you earnestly desire something you can’t afford, pray about it, and in due season the Lord will bless you. Even if it’s something that needs to be purchased right here and now, surrender yourself to the Lord, He will give you something way better in the future.

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