Can you live within your allowance?02 January 2012
By Madhuri Kumar
MONEY is like water: it flows out of your wallet or bank account no sooner than it’s arrived, particularly for students.
Most of us receive a fixed allowance from our parents or guardians and are expected to live within it. However, living in a glitzy, glamorous city like Dubai, it can be difficult to keep hold of those purse strings.
‘Just one more’ snack, coffee or bargain dress is a trap that many students fall into – and one that can soon make you totally broke.
Campus Cashy spoke to a handful of students to see if they live within their allowance, and if not – why not?
More than enough
A quick straw poll reveals that many of us get pretty decent amounts of allowance – enough to live within and even put something aside for a rainy day.
Sabab Millwala, 18, is a student at Middlesex University Dubai, studying for a Bachelor’s in human resource management with psychology. She gets an allowance of about AED 200 a month and says that it’s enough to meet her needs.
So how does she control her spending? “I prioritise what I need and don’t need,” she says. “I also check for substitutes. So, for example, if one restaurant is cheaper than the other and they’re both selling what I want, I’ll opt for the cheaper one, thereby saving a little which I keep in reserve.
“This applies to everything; personally, I don’t like splurging.”
However, many of us find it incredibly hard to live within our means not least because of the extravagant culture; students are exposed to a lifestyle of luxury that is imbibed from the city itself.
Instead of saving up, they splurge on things that aren’t necessary, then find themselves wondering where all that cash went.
Nupur Nanda, 18, likes leading a luxurious lifestyle because she’s brand conscious and finds it appealing. However, she does try to budget and cut down her spending after that one big buy.
Balancing the books
Another factor is that many students simply don’t budget – tracking their finances to see where they’re spending money and where they can cut down.
Jeby Jerome Joris, 19, claims he doesn’t maintain a budget, but loves spending. Most of his money goes on petrol. When he’s broke, because he hasn’t budgeted, he car shares with a couple of friends and waits until his next allowance.
So, what can you do to stop overspending? The simplest way is to start keeping accounts. It barely takes five minutes to write down your allowance and what you spend over any given day. You’ll quickly realise what’s eating up most of your cash.
It’s hard initially, but once it becomes a habit it will be hard to let go of. Being able to put some money aside for a rainy day should be motivation enough to continue maintaining records. Who wouldn’t want to see a little extra in their allowance?
I can personally vouch for the merits of budgeting. When I first came to Dubai as an overseas student, I went crazy with my allowance. I get an income of AED 700 a month and not being able to keep track of it got me in a lot of trouble.
So I decided to record everything I spent in a day and focused on what I needed and what I didn’t. Very soon, I realised that I could save a lot – and have reserves for that occasional splurge. More importantly, it taught me the value of money – something that’s essential for our generation.
If you don’t trust yourself, ask your parents to give you your monthly allowance in weekly instalments. Having the money in your bank account can give rise to a horrid temptation to splurge, but you can’t spend what you don’t have.
A Middlesex University student, who didn’t want to be named, gets a periodic allowance. “I prefer it this way so I don’t blow all the cash immediately,” he told Campus Cashy.
Another student, Gimel Samera, 18 (above), switched from receiving all of her allowance at once to a weekly allowance because she wanted to be on the safe side.
“I’ve asked my parents to give me my allowance on a weekly basis so I won’t end up spending more than what’s in my wallet,” she says.
Liked this? Check out some tips on budgeting. Where does most of your allowance go? Tell us.