Your college years are supposed to set you up for your future career. This is why people attend university to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, and COO’s (i.e., children-of-the-owner).
For many, it’s also a veritable coming of age. A lot of students come in from all over the country to study in the city’s most prestigious schools, and it’s usually at this point that they learn how to live on their own for the first time in their lives.
Thus, one of the many skills that college students pick up outside the classroom is budgeting. You can’t exactly just ask your parents for more money if you’re no longer on the same island, right? All the more so if your family’s breadwinner works abroad and sticks to a schedule for sending remittances over for your educational needs.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to stretch your student allowance if you’re creative enough. Here are a good number of them:
1. Be smart about your transportation options.
If you’re already going to move into a condominium or a dormitory, you might as well choose one that is already near your school. That way, you can simply walk to and fro everyday rather than having to spend on tricycles or jeepneys even.
Should you be required to go on a field trip that would take you far from your school, dorm, or condo, perhaps you can also try to hitch a ride with your friends or blockmates, or a group of you can hail a rideshare and split the resulting costs.
2. Pack your own lunch.
Cooking your own meals can go a long way in building up your savings account. Some universities even offer incentives for people who bring their own food containers to school (i.e., a discount off food costs), so you might want to look into that too.
3. Don’t smoke.
It’s bad for both your health and your wallet. Rather than frittering away a couple hundred bucks on cigarettes every week, why not look for more productive and healthier ways to relieve stress?
4. Opt for water.
Do you know how much money you can save if you go without your daily frappuccino from your favorite coffee shop for a year? Enough to buy a smartphone or tablet, that’s what.
It’s a known fact that many eateries actually have high margins for their beverages, so you can choose to drink water (and not the bottled kind, mind you) instead. Some restaurants offer free house tea, so you can also opt for that if you’d like some variety.
If you really need to stay awake, go for a cheaper cup of coffee or make your own. It’s the caffeine you’re after, not another snapshot for your Instagram.
5. Eat first before you hit the grocery.
Going to the supermarket on a full stomach makes you less likely to purchase items on impulse, so you’re more likely to stick to your list….and your budget.
6. Find roommates to split the rent with.
These days, condominium units surrounding universities are typically leased for no less than Php10,000 a month, which is pretty steep if you or your parents will be shouldering it alone.
You might have a little less privacy if you get roommates, but they can certainly help you ease up on rent and utility costs since these will be split equally amongst you.
7. Take advantage of student discounts.
When I was in college, a political org liaised with several establishments in the area so they could release a special card that allowed students to avail of significant discounts from the said establishments. You may want to see if your university also has the same.
Try to read the fine print at stores or eateries surrounding your school as well. Some of them might already have special discounts for any customer who can present a student ID.
8. Minimize nights out.
You don’t have to skip every barkada outing, but you don’t have to attend every single one too. Sure, they’re great opportunities for bonding with your friends, but the transportation costs, movie tickets, and bar tabs can add up and bite you in the a**.
Why not try attending school events with your friends more often? These are often quite fun, safe, and don’t usually require hefty entrance fees. You’ll also get to meet people from other courses or schools in the process, and that would be great for your network.
9. Keep your coins in one place.
Php1 is still Php1. Php999 doesn’t amount to Php1,000 without it, so don’t underestimate what your spare change can add up to over time.
Rather than leaving them out for anyone to find, put your coins in a piggy bank. You never know when you might be a few coins short of the fare for a jeepney or a tricycle ride.
10. Learn how to give yourself a manicure.
Many nail salons set up shop near universities since they’re practically guaranteed a steady clientele. To be fair, their pricing is actually quite competitive, but as with daily frappuccinos, those weekly pampering sessions can add up to a hefty amount.
11. Apply for scholarships.
Check if you’re eligible for a partial or even a full scholarship. If nothing else, studying hard to make the grade so that your mom or your dad won’t have to remit as much money for your studies is incredibly motivating, don’t you think?
12. Use your school gym instead of getting an expensive membership elsewhere.
Its use is included in your tuition fees anyway, so go and get your money’s worth.
Lastly, don’t skip class. It might seem cool to do that, especially when all the hip kids in your block are doing it, but higher education is both a privilege and a responsibility. Be sure to make the most out of your parents’ investment by learning all you can while still in school, be it inside or outside the classroom.