To buy or not to buy?

Students juggle their finances to include luxuries, entertainment without neglecting necessities.

The importance of higher education is growing increasingly valuable in a world full of competition after college. As the cost of a college education continues to skyrocket, many students may have only one thing on their minds -- "Do I pay for books … or a brand new Louis Vuitton bag?"

College spending becomes of particular interest to those students who worry about where they will dig up $100,000 to pay off student loans after their four years of college -- and hopefully it will only be four. But for some students, the worries are different. Without having to pay for school, over-spending on other things can become a bad habit.

Sophomore Aviva Sauer has become accustomed to this lifestyle.

"My parents give me money every month and break it down for what it's for," she said. "I probably spend double of what they give me."

Although Sauer said she spends a lot on personal things outside of school, she doesn't think she spends exceptionally more than the average IU student.

Dining out is where most of her money tends to go, she said. Part of the reason for Sauer's extensive spending is having a car on campus.

"I'm definitely spending a lot more this year than last year because of having a car," Sauer said. She said she thinks it's easier to spend more money when students have easy access to getting around.

Sauer also said she thinks a big reason college students spend so much money has to do with their priorities.

"Things are given to them," she said. "They pretty much have what they need but still tend to spend more."

Tilman Klumpp, associate professor for the economics department would consider Sauer to be part of a smaller group of students who have an abundance of money to spend.

"I think college students, in general, are less likely to spend (money) because they don't have a lot of money to spend on things," said Klumpp. "But compared to the entire University, there are probably students who have the resources to spend on those things (materialistic possessions)."

Like what Klumpp would consider the majority of college students, there are many who do struggle with finances.

Unlike Sauer, junior Hannah Brewer has to watch her personal spending because she pays for her cost of living and tuition.

"Living would probably be the bulk (of what I spend), and then the rest to tuition," Brewer said. "Basically, I try not to spend excess amounts (of money). I try to only get the things that I need -- I don't shop unless I really need it, like for holidays and birthdays."

As for necessities, her meals mostly come from a sum of money she pays monthly to her sorority house, but on the weekends, her house doesn't serve meals.

"When I do get food from the grocery stores, I try to just get cheap foods, like Spaghetti O's. I try not to order out that much," she said. "But I'm from Bloomington, so sometimes my mom will fix me a meal."

For Klumpp, Brewer's situation seems to fit more of the traditional college-student profile, rather than what many would see as a materialistic student. Klumpp said teaching at IU is very different than other schools he has taught at.

"I worked at other institutions before, and saw how they dress and what they drive, and (IU) is a lot less materialistic," he said. "I would assume that IU would probably be more accessible to (self-reliant) students, rather than students who are very rich or materialistic who may choose other schools, like Ivy League schools."

As Klumpp has seen, priorities seem to vary across campus, as well as change within schools across the nation. Each student adapts to his or her own financial situation.

As Brewer monitors her budget closely, some others close to her do not.

"I wouldn't spend on things that a lot of my friends spend on," Brewer said. "Sometimes I question the random things they buy, because I save ridiculously for things in the future."

-- Contact copy chief Stacie Vasko at

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