How to survive the school holidays if you are a broke student

Photo: Zouk

You've been slogging away during the school term, and now it's finally the holidays. The only problem is that while your affluent peers are spending their parents' money on overseas holidays and shopping sprees at Haji Lane, you're actually considering ditching your $300-a-month internship so you can work as waiter, simply because you could use the extra cash.

But fear not, just because you're broke doesn't mean you're condemned to spending your entire holiday gaming in your room or listening to your mum nag.

Here are four tips for maintaining a social life during the school holidays without spending too much.

If you're going out late, use uberPOOL or wait for the first train

No matter what you might think of our public transport system, one thing everyone agrees on is that it's inexpensive. You can get virtually anywhere for under $3.

The problem is that it seems to be designed only to ferry worker bees to the office and back home. Around midnight, everything shuts down. If you're unlucky enough to have a long commute from the city centre, it means you need to head home by 11:30pm or so.

That also means you miss out on a lot of fun stuff if your friends are the sort who like to hang out at prata places or Zouk late at night. It's annoying having to always be the first person to leave because you can't afford the $25 taxi ride back.

But thanks to uberPOOL, your post-midnight ride home just got cheaper by a few bucks. First of all, uberX already tends to be cheaper than taxis with midnight surcharge. When you use uberPOOL, it gets signficantly cheaper than even uberX, since you could be sharing the car with strangers (not always, though - if you're lucky you might be the only one in the car). That ride home from East Coast to Jurong West that would have cost you $35 before might be only $20 with uberPOOL.

If your friends have the tendency to hang out very late, say till 5 or 6am, you can just wait for the first bus or train home. It's a little painful to have to take public transport home when you're already sleepy, but you save so much that it's worth it.

Search for cheaper versions of your favourite activity

Every group of friends has an activity or two they tend to always end up doing together, whether playing pool, playing DOTA, singing KTV, bowling or getting smashed.

Whatever it is you and your crew like to do, make sure you do research online to find the cheapest possible way to indulge in that activity. Most of the time, when you're hanging out in a group, everyone just drifts to the closest or most convenient option even if it's expensive.

For instance, KTV fans might often find themselves at PartyWorld or Kbox since these chains have many outlets islandwide. They are actually two of the more xpensive options out there.

 

On the other hand, if you actually bother to do online research, you can save yourself and your posse a ton of money. For instance, at Ten Dollar club, you pay only $10++ per person (if you're in a group of at least four) for a 3 hour (peak) or 5 hour (off peak) session.

Compare that with the prices at PartyWorld. During peak hour, a 3-hour session would cost you $21.80++ for a 3-hour session. That's more than double the price.

Find a free or cheap activity you love, then get people to do it with you

If you think there are no free or cheap non-lame activities in Singapore, you're wrong-it's just that you and your friends haven't discovered them yet.

Friend groups often get stuck in a rut, where they find they're doing the same old things over and over again. If you find that your friends are always hanging out at Instagrammable hipster cafes but you balk at the thought of spending $7 on coffee, then it might be time to take matters into your own hands.

You see, if you want people to partake in cheap activities with you, you've got to show initiative and be the one who plans things.

Always wanted to have a picnic at the Botanic Gardens? Get your friends to bring their own snacks and beer. Wish you had someone to cycle with at 1am? Invite a few friends to go night cycling with you. Spending most of your days alone in your room playing the guitar? Invite a few non-tone-deaf friends over to your home and have a jam session.

If you work at it, it's possible to bring down the cost of a great many of the group activities you participate in. Just always be the first to suggest things to do or places to go, and hope people follow.

The article first appeared on MoneySmart.

MoneySmart.sg is Singapore’s leading personal finance portal, and aims to help people maximise their money with powerful tools and engaging content.

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