KATHMANDU, Jan 23: There was a time when a plate of momo cost Rs 15, and with his student ID, one could commute at a mere Rs 3 in public transports. This is recalled by Bipal Shakya, a 19, studying at Kathmandu Engineering College. A haircut at the hajjam’s cost Rs 20, adds in Samip Adhikari, 19, and a Plus Two graduate.
“Even in our own generation, prices have hiked a lot,” says Bipal.
Living expenses have become more expensive in Kathmandu, and for the young students who mostly depend on their parents or guardians for money it’s cumbersome to ask them for money every time. Yet, they still have to manage their pocket money between transportation, daily Tiffin, mobile phone balance, occasional hangouts with friends and indulgences on their interests.
While some students like Bipal, who works part-time as a guitar instructor, get a part of their expenses from part time work, the rest manage their expenses from the daily pocket money given by their parents. “Also, my parents have created a fixed bank account and they let me use the interest from that,” he adds.
“My father gives me Rs 50 everyday and I spend it accordingly,” says Samip. The same is the case with 16-year-old Satyam Shrestha who is currently doing his A Levels at AJ Wild Institute of Advanced Studies, and Riken Lal Shrestha, 19, studying Bachelors in Business Administration at Nepal College of Management.
According to the four, their normal monthly expenses amount up to Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000. When it comes to money for hanging out with friends or having fun, they share that they use the money left over from this amount and occasionally also ask their parents for some.
Though theirs is no systematic budgeting, Bipal says that he does have a rough idea about the amount he’ll spend. Riken shares that he makes up his mind to spend a fixed amount of money only, and in certain situations.
“I mostly spend my money on food and when I go out with friends. We usually go out once or twice a week,” shares Riken. Satyam also says that he spends his money during hangouts with friends, “At least Rs 300 to Rs 500 goes during these gatherings. Sometimes, when I don’t have money and I don’t want to ask my parents, I don’t go out,” he adds.
Going broke is also not an unknown phenomenon for most students. However, Bipal says that after he has started working, this hasn’t happened. “Most of my money is spent on food. When I went broke earlier, I avoided eating out and made sure I ate enough at home or took junk food from home itself,” he shares.
Samip says that when he’s broke, he doesn’t eat outside. “Plus, I don’t like eating outside anyway. So it’s not a problem for me,” he adds.
Apart from daily expenses, money also goes to indulgences. For this group, it’s mostly spending on musical instruments, movies and having fun with friends. “During special occasions, I spend money on alcohol and occasionally on hookah,” says Bipal.
For Riken, a movie buff, money goes into going to cinema halls and buying DVDs. “It’s become a habit for me to watch a lot of movies. So I buy DVDs in bulk, which usually cost around Rs 30 per DVD,” he says.
Those students, who are in relationship, have another financial burden. “Especially for boys, there’s an obligation to pay the bills. Also, combining national and international occasions, there are probably around 10 occasions every year when couples have to gift each other,” says Bipal.
Samip also agrees to this and adds that some boyfriends even have the habit of sending their girlfriends cell phone balances, (and vice versa).
Life is especially tough, financially, for those students who aren’t from Kathmandu and are living alone, on rent. However, according to Bipal, he’s seen two different spectrums of such individuals. “Some budget their expenses tightly while there are others who spend wildly because they have money coming in,” says Bipal.
When it comes to spending a lot, Satyam shares that this is also because young people don’t really understand the value of money. This is also true for him, says Satyam. Riken says while most people don’t seem to understand the value of money, this also differs from person to person. “Students who have understood the difficulties in earning money from a very early age will understand and spend wisely,” he opines.
Money is earned to spend, says Samip. “We should save and limit our temptations. But we shouldn’t be greedy and not spend even on necessities or occasional entertainment,” he says, adding, “If we’ve saved a certain amount, we should spend it on something productive, something that’ll get us positive returns.”