Stu­dents’ spend­ing habits

New Straits Times - - Front Page - ZULITA MUSTAFA zulita@nst.com.my

LIFE at univer­sity is a change from liv­ing at home and un­der­grad­u­ates have to learn to live within their means.

Pub­lic univer­sity un­der­grad­u­ate Muham­mad Zak­wan Egar, 25, makes sure that his ex­penses do not ex­ceed RM20 per day to make his al­lowance last a month.

His al­lowance is spent on ac­com­mo­da­tion, trans­port, meals, and en­ter­tain­ment and leisure. “I’m fi­nanc­ing my stud­ies with my own funds and the help of my par­ents. They re­mit RM800 to RM900 as pocket money monthly.

”I spend an av­er­age of RM300 per month on food. I fork out RM105 for hos­tel fees, RM28 for trans­port and RM200 for leisure and shop­ping ev­ery month,” said Muham­mad Zak­wan, a first-year Bach­e­lor of Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion stu­dent at Universiti Ke­bangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Mo­hammed Faizal Mohd Nor Al Ka­marud­din, 22, likes good food, and in­stant noo­dles are his last op­tion.

“Nour­ish­ing food is im­por­tant to stay healthy. I travel on pub­lic trans­port such as the LRT and KTM, but have to re­sort to GrabCar and Uber some­times. I spend about RM10 to RM40 ev­ery day,” said the un­der­grad­u­ate from UKM.

”I use my sav­ings and get RM200 to RM300 ev­ery month from my par­ents. I rarely go shop­ping un­less I have ex­tra cash to splurge on my­self.”

Third-year Universiti Tun Ab­dul Razak (Uni­razak) stu­dent Auni Zul­faka’s Bach­e­lor of Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion (Is­lamic Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning) stud­ies are spon­sored by MARA.

She lives in an apart­ment cho­sen for its se­cu­rity and pays RM305 rent monthly.

“Daily meals cost more than RM10 and are the bulk of my ex­pen­di­ture. I also spend quite a bit on trans­port, com­mut­ing be­tween the apart­ment and the univer­sity.

“I set aside 20 per cent for sav­ings in Tabung Haji and sukuk in­vest­ment monthly. I live as sim­ple a life as I can,” said the 22-year-old.

With the in­crease in cost of liv­ing, she tries to re­duce ex­penses, es­pe­cially en­ter­tain­ment.

Liv­ing in a univer­sity hos­tel helps Siti Zu­laikha Za­her­man, 23, to cut down on cost of ac­com­mo­da­tion. Food and trans­porta­tion make up most of her ex­penses.

”I spend RM8 to RM20 per day on meals at a cafe near the univer­sity which serves de­li­cious food at af­ford­able prices. Trans­porta­tion can come up to RM50 per week due to project work and if I go back to my home in Kuala Lumpur,” said the first-year Me­dia and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Stud­ies stu­dent, who saves loose change in a piggy bank and sells sec­ond-hand books and hi­jab to her friends.

Muham­mad Da­nial Afiq Mo­hamed Meera’s stud­ies are funded by the Na­tional Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Fund Cor­po­ra­tion.

”Go­ing out on as­sign­ments can put a dent in fi­nances,” said the 24-year-old who is pur­su­ing Is­lamic fi­nan­cial plan­ning at Uni­razak.

Since he stays with his par­ents, most of his ex­penses go to­wards pay­ing for his daily com­mute to the univer­sity.

”I stopped re­ceiv­ing pocket money since I was 16 so I run my own busi­ness. The bulk of my spend­ing is on clothes as I need to be prop­erly at­tired as the newly elected Youth Par­lia­ment Mem­ber of Malaysia,” said Muham­mad Da­nial Afiq.

Joseph Yong Kher Wee, 19, said one must learn to be fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent.

“Plan how much you spend ev­ery day and try not to in­dulge. And don’t spend too much on en­ter­tain­ment,” said Yong, who has a schol­ar­ship and RM200 monthly al­lowance.

“I spend mostly on food as it is pricey near my col­lege. I man­age my ex­penses to stay within the bud­get.”

While Muham­mad Zak­wan felt that one should be equipped with fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy upon en­ter­ing univer­sity, HELP Univer­sity Foun­da­tion in Arts stu­dent Danny Goh Meng Huat, 19, said it is im­por­tant to nur­ture the habit of spend­ing money wisely from young.

Mo­hammed Faizal ad­mit­ted that he has some­times strayed be­yond his bud­get so he does part-time jobs such as con­duct- ing sur­veys or work­ing at pho­to­shoots to cover un­ex­pected ex­penses like re­pair­ing his hand­phone.

Auni said un­der­grad­u­ates must have fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy to sur­vive as stu­dents. “Fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy is im­por­tant to pre­vent be­ing bur­dened with ed­u­ca­tion debt af­ter

grad­u­a­tion.”

PAR­ENTS’ EX­PEN­DI­TURE

Civil en­gi­neer Sheikh Azmir Sheikh Mokhtar, 51, finds it chal­leng­ing to fund his chil­dren’s stud­ies with the in­crease in cost of liv­ing.

His chil­dren, Sheikh Mo­hamed Naim and Nur Iz­zah

who study at Univer­sity Teknologi Petronas (UTP) and Universiti Teknologi MARA re­spec­tively, get a monthly al­lowance each.

”In his foun­da­tion year, he re­ceived RM1,000 per month to pay for food, phone bills, petrol and car main­te­nance. Now that he has a MARA loan to fund his un­der­grad­u­ate stud­ies for four years, I give him RM500 a month. My daugh­ter gets RM600 per month,” said Sheikh Azmir.

”While I pro­vide enough for my chil­dren to have a slightly more com­fort­able life, I make them aware of the im­por­tance of man­ag­ing money wisely and sav­ing up for rainy days,” he added.

School teacher Au­nil­lah Hilmi and her ar­chi­tect hus­band Mohd Khalil Abd Jabar, both 48, give their daugh­ter Aisyah a monthly al­lowance of RM450 while she is pur­su­ing a de­gree in pe­tro­leum en­gi­neer­ing at UTP.

”She spends her money wisely, mind­ful of how much we are pay­ing for her ed­u­ca­tion,” said Au­nil­lah.

Tech web­site writer Ramli Ibrahim, 49, said that while he pro­vides a monthly al­lowance for his daugh­ter, he en­cour­ages her to spend within her means.

”I ad­vise her to stay within her phone credit limit, use pub­lic trans­port and do not spend too much on shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment. And if she can spare the time on week­ends, find a part-time job.

“She is do­ing all right so far, ex­cept for the oc­ca­sional over­spend­ing on out­ings with friends such as go­ing to the movies and the lat­est gad­gets,” said Ramli, whose daugh­ter is a first-year com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­gree stu­dent at In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity Malaya-Wales.

FI­NAN­CIAL LIT­ER­ACY

INTI In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity Coun­selling Cen­tre man­ager Lim Siow Yen said those who lack knowl­edge in fi­nan­cial plan­ning tend to over­spend.

“Stu­dents with low self-con­trol are eas­ily in­flu­enced by their wants rather than their needs. How­ever, it also de­pends on how well their par­ents ed­u­cate them on fi­nan­cial man­age­ment.

”Some par­ents teach their chil­dren from young to bud­get their pocket money but there are also those who meet their chil­dren’s de­mand for money ev­ery time.

”So, it also stems from fam­ily up­bring­ing to un­der­stand the value of money from a young age and know how to man­age it well,” added Lim.

She said peo­ple tend to gen­der stereo­type when it comes to spend­ing habits. This per­cep­tion is also drawn from movies and ad­ver­tise­ments due to the fact that there is more vis­i­ble mer­chan­dise for women such as beauty prod­ucts, clothes and hand­bags.

“How­ever, men have their share of prod­ucts as­so­ci­ated with them like drinks and elec­tronic gad­gets. I feel that both gen­ders have sim­i­lar spend­ing habits.”

Head of Univer­sity of Malaya Mar­ket­ing and Re­cruit­ment Cen­tre Fa­timah Nun­tasi­nee Muad­ma­nee said the chal­lenges of “not hav­ing enough” arise if stu­dents over­spend.

”The lo­ca­tion of UM is an op­por­tu­nity as well as a chal­lenge. With easy ac­cess to malls via pub­lic trans­port, it can be a chal­lenge for stu­dents to con­trol ex­penses.

”The univer­sity pro­vides as many stu­dent fa­cil­i­ties and ameni­ties as pos­si­ble such as a book­store, cafes, sports cen­tre and feeder buses on cam­pus. It mon­i­tors the prices of goods and food so they are af­ford­able for stu­dents.

“Stu­dents at the res­i­den­tial col­leges get three meals a day, the cost of which are in­cluded in the ac­com­mo­da­tion fees,” said Fa­timah.

The UM En­trepreneur­ship Cen­tre of­fers a pro­gramme on fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, which is a com­pul­sory unit for all cour­ses.

The Stu­dents Af­fairs’ Ca­reer Coun­selling Cen­tre also gives ad­vice on fi­nan­cial is­sues. “Stu­dents should fo­cus on com­plet­ing their stud­ies and not worry about not hav­ing enough money,” added Fa­timah.

Sun­way Ed­u­ca­tion Group and Sun­way Univer­sity se­nior ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dr El­iz­a­beth Lee said spend­ing habits vary from stu­dent to stu­dent. “There are those who spend lav­ishly while most stu­dents pre­fer a sim­pler life­style. We en­cour­age our cafe­te­ria cater­ers to sell food and drinks at af­ford­able prices.”

Stu­dents need to buy es­sen­tial items such as books and sta­tionery.

Food and trans­porta­tion make up most of stu­dents’ ex­penses.

Muham­mad Zak­wan Egar

Muham­mad Da­nial Afiq Mo­hamed Meera

Danny Goh Meng Huat

Auni Zul­faka

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