1.17.2014

A Day in the Life of a Student on a Budget

Guest post by Israel Defeo, the content marketer for Money Hero, the leading Hong Kong financial guide website. The portal he is promoting aids people in finding the best Hong Kong credit cards, loans, insurance, broadband and mobile plans, and deposit accounts.

Coming from a lower-middle class family, it was a privilege to be able to go to college on a scholarship program. As much as my family and I rejoiced because of this opportunity, it was a fact that we still had to take care of my miscellaneous expenses. The university was also a long way from home, so we knew that any additional money would go to my allowance and dormitory fees. I was presented with the challenge of making the most out of the small allowance my parents were going to give me every month. I knew I had to have a plan and stick to it, or else, I would be stuck penniless and starving.

Below are the life-changing steps that I practiced each day to make sure I would be able to survive school life with what little money I had in my pocket.

Use School Facilities
If I needed to do research, I used the library. I took advantage of the school’s free Wi-Fi or hotspots. When I was hungry, I didn’t go out of the school grounds but ate at the cafeteria. If I needed to work out, I took a run or played soccer in the sports field. 

Instead of seeing the university as a place where I “slave my time away” as some of my friends put it, I saw it as my second home. This mindset was actually pretty helpful to me and worked wonders for my budget.

I Did my Own Thing
One thing that’s a certainty in college is that you will always see what the rich kids have, and what you do not. I knew some students who were not all that affluent, not rich, but who succumbed to peer pressure and ended up buying the latest mobile phone or laptop.

My mobile phone, which was strictly for call and text, had a pre-paid plan that I was careful to use. My laptop wasn’t anything fancy either, a simple notebook where I could do the basic stuff was more than good enough for me.

I Focused on My Studies
As expected, most of my peers were doing a lot of things that weren’t related to our academic path. They partied a lot. Some of them were hooked on smoking or drinking. They always went out to hang out in coffee shops, which meant they had to buy something to actually stay there. I couldn’t even count the times I had to wonder where they were getting the money to fund their non-school activities.

Instead of doing those, I was active in organisations and other in-school activities. I was member of the school chorale, the photography club, was an environmentalist, and a part of the student body. All in all, the tons of activity made me focus more on my studies. I basically made sure to make all my time in school productive and cost-free.

Believe it or not, with these personal choices, I even managed to set aside a decent savings funds after graduation. Going through everything I did taught me how valuable money is. It’s true that the small decisions you make early in life will help you in the future. Until now, I still live within my means. It’s allowed me to be financially stable and independent. If you ask me, that’s a pretty good trade-off, from where I’m standing.

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