Party lifestyle takes toll on my finances29 June 2011
Student: Wouter “Vee” Kerklaan
Studying at: Middlesex University, Dubai
WOUTER “Vee” Kerklaan’s financial life is different to the ones lived by most UAE students. Sure, his parents might pay for his housing, his car, and even give him a monthly spending allowance. But the catch is that he lives in an apartment by himself, and has to manage his money properly if he is to survive the month.
“I get AED 4,000 (US $1,088) put into my bank account every month,” he says. “That might sound like a lot when you don’t have to worry about paying rent or bills or anything. But, trust me, when you have to balance being able to buy food and petrol with going out, it can be a struggle. Even after a few years, I still haven’t got it right!”
Food versus drink
Like anyone in their early 20s, Vee loves to party, and the expensive nature of Dubai’s nightlife takes its toll on his monthly allowance. He admits that he probably goes out more than most live-at-home students, simply because there’s no-one around to grill him for it... and that it’s led to him being out-of-pocket before the end of the month too many times.
“When you’re a student, you have your classes and you have your homework,” he says. “But I go out maybe three or four times a week, sometimes more. No one’s stopping me, and when you’ve got the money, you think, ‘why not?’”
But such a life is only sustainable for so long, meaning that Vee usually ends up living like a king for the first half of the month, only to live like a pauper for the second.
His story, while familiar to most people who studied in the UK, can prove shocking to the ears of a well-off, Dubai-based student.
“Once you start running seriously low on cash, you have to prioritise everything,” he says. “First I have to make sure I’ve got enough money for petrol so I can get to class or hand in essays. And if things are really bad, that pretty much means I can’t even eat, let alone party!
“I also hate having to call my parents to ask for more money, so I usually suffer in silence. My parents live in Holland, so if I’m screwed enough to be asking for help, I’ll still have to wait another few days for a bank transfer to come through. It can get pretty tough: I once survived a week eating just bread and ketchup!”
Vee has learnt from his past horrors, and has run into far fewer problems this year, thanks largely to his attempts at budgeting.
“Now I set aside chunks of money for things that I’ll need,” he says. “I try to put aside AED 1,000 (US $272) for petrol, and another AED 1,000 for food. I mean, whether or not I stick to these plans is debatable, but it’s a start!”
Money on the side
The summers are financially kind to Vee, due to the fact that he spends them working as a teaching assistant. Alongside his monthly allowance, he’s also paid a salary. And despite being free from classes or deadlines, working life means that he can’t go out as much, meaning he saves a lot more cash… in theory.
“Working is good because it pretty much doubles my income,” he says. “Not going out as much also has its perks, but when I do go out, I’ll go a little bit crazy because I’ve got the extra cash.”
Pic credit: photostock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net