How to handle your finances while you're a student...

Very little advice is typically given to young people regarding how to manage their finances. As a result, many never learn how to handle their finances in a wise or biblical manner. In the short term, this can be wasteful instead of being worshipful. In the long term, it can also establish a pattern that results in needless difficulty and poverty.

I believe it's wise for a student to save 70%, spend up to 20%, and give 10% of what they earn. In this process, they learn the importance of saving for larger purchases like vehicles and college expenses. They also learn the importance of budgeting and setting limits on spending. And most important of all, they learn that money is a tool that should never be worshipped, but should be given generously as an act of worship to the Lord who gives us the ability to earn an income to begin with.

Some Christians debate whether or not tithing (giving 10% of your income to the Lord as an act of worship) is a requirement for those who live under the New Covenant. I appreciate that debate, but here's how I settle that question in my mind. During the era of the Old Covenant, the people of Israel were required to tithe what the Lord blessed them with. Living under the New Covenant, we experience blessings and privileges that are far greater than those who lived under the Old Covenant. That being the case, I treat the tithe like a floor on my giving. I can't imagine giving less than 10% to the Lord when I've been blessed in more ways than those who came before me were.

I also appreciate the fact that tithing helps me not to worship the money the Lord has entrusted to me. Most people, whether they admit it or not, struggle with worshipping money. We believe it will solve all our problems, reduce our anxiety, make us happy, and foster contentment in our hearts. But money cannot do all we hope it can. It's a useful tool, but only Jesus can satisfy the deepest longings and greatest needs of our hearts. Giving 10% or more of my money away to Him as an act of worship helps me not to worship the tool He has blessed me with. He alone is worthy of our worship.

Scripture tells us multiple things about tithing, investing, giving, and generosity...

Proverbs 3:9-10 - Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
Genesis 14:18-20 - And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Possessor of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”
And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Malachi 3:8-10 - Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 
Luke 6:38 - give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Matthew 25:26-27 - But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 - The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

In our culture, many people spend their lives making a series of poor financial decisions. They don't treat their money as a stewardship entrusted to them by the Lord. Often, they spend their money without considering some of their long-term financial needs. Instead of saving, investing, giving, and spending cautiously, we often develop patterns of wasting the money that's entrusted to us on frivolous, short-term "wants" instead of long-term "needs."

What advice are you giving your children regarding their money? What patterns do you want them to implement while they're young? How would you like to see them handle their finances when they're older?

We have found that the 70/20/10 philosophy we're recommending has served our children well. They have all started working part-time, after-school jobs when they're 14 and followed the 70/20/10 philosophy with their income. Doing so has enabled them to buy used cars with cash while also making major contributions to their college expenses. As of yet, they haven't incurred debt and I hope they never will. They have followed our counsel regarding giving and generosity, and we believe the Lord has blessed them in multiple ways in conjunction with their desire to worship Him instead of worshipping what He's given them the ability to earn.

We have also told our children that we realize it isn't likely they'll be able to save 70% of their income once they're adults and have major monthly expenses like groceries and housing. When that time comes, we're encouraging them to flip the 70% and 20% designations around and use 70% of their income for their expenses while saving and investing 20% of what they earn, and continuing the pattern of giving at least 10% of their income to the Lord.

This pattern works well for our household. Let me know what you think and what pattern for financial stewardship you're recommending to your children.

© John Stange, 2018