Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Truth About Polytechnic Students

Everyone wants to be rich. Nobody wants to be poor. But can savings alone get you rich?

I've browsed through many posts that talked about their achievement in saving thousands of dollars over a period of time. And I applaud them for being determined and disciplined enough to achieve that.

The problem with our generation is that teenagers prefer to spend first and save later, if even at all.

We think that saving is putting aside money for the latest phone or laptop etc.

How many of you have friends that constantly complain about the sad state of their bank balance?
How many of you actually see your friends doing something about it?
We complain, but we don't want to look for a solution to the problem.

Personally, I had a friend who told me he had a bank balance of $2.80. I was appalled. He's not rich, but he's not poor either. How did he manage to spend so much until he was left with $2.80?

After observing my friends and the people around me, I've come to a conclusion why my friends' bank balances are steadily decreasing.

1. Mentality
Some of us just can't be bothered to save. They live on day to day basis. These are usually people who get a daily allowance from their parents and spend it all because they know they'll receive fresh funds the very next day. However, people who get weekly or monthly allowance may just blow it all away on the very first day of each month and then borrow money for the rest of the month.

2. Shopaholics /Fashionistas /Impulsive Buyers
Admit it, you either know people like that or are one yourself. These are the people who are dressed in the latest fashion or spend the bulk of their allowance on new clothes / makeup / games etc. They are the ones who usually buy new stuff every other day but probably get tired of it after a while or worse still don't even wear it and then buys new stuff again.

3. Trying too hard to fit in.
As a teen, it is normal to want to be like everyone else around you. When the latest trend hits and everyone's either wearing a shirt / jeans / shoes from a particular brand,

Examples: Ben Sherman Target Tee, Nudie Jeans, New Balance & Nike Shoes.

Because your friends are all wearing it, you have to get that overpriced branded product. At all costs. Usually at the cost of your own savings.

4. Social Life
Being a polytechnic student isn't easy. It's a constant struggle to juggle three main things.

Enough Sleep - Social Life - Good Grades

When you're in polytechnic, your expenses drastically increase compared to secondary school. We don't get the same transport concession anymore. What about food? Many of us don't want to join the long queues at school, and with longer break/lunch hours compared to secondary school we choose to eat at fast food outlets or cafes spending at least $8 - $20 on average for a single meal. Having a social life to the everyday teenager means going out to catch a movie / eating at cafes / clubbing / drinking / smoking and many more.

What the average 'Teen' might spend in a week.
1 Movie Ticket + Popcorn Combo --> $9.50 + $10 = $19.50
3 Lunches at Cafe $8 x 3= $24
3 Dinner at Fast Food Outlet = $6 x 3 = $18
1 Pack of Cigarettes = $12
Club Entrance Ticket= $30
Alcohol = $20 - $50
Polyclinic MC= $11

They can easily spend up to $100+++ in a week. Scary isn't it? Keep in mind that I have not yet included transportation fees and miscellaneous expenses like clothing or school events.

5. Boy- Girl Relationships
When you're in a relationship, it's natural for your expenses to increase. You go on dates, you bring each other to stay-cations at hotels, you buy expensive anniversary/monthsary gifts for your significant other. A simple Pandora charm can start from around $70++
The average hotel stay-cation starts from $200 - $1000/night from the boutique hotels to the more lavish 5 star hotels. Eg: Lloyd's Inn, Marina Bay Sands, Resorts World Sentosa, M Hotel etc.

It seems that today's generation determines how much you love a person by how much you spend on him or her. And that's sad isn't it? So teens splurge on expensive gifts even if they can't really afford it.

6. Showing off to others.
This is extremely common amongst teens nowadays. Because of Instagram, teenagers are constantly posting about going to the newest cafe, buying the latest branded shoe, staying at an extremely high class hotel and so on. They want to feel good about themselves, it's only human. And if you can afford it, good for you. But what if you can't? Isn't it really superficial to hear people going, "WAH, SO EXPENSIVE AISEH" and only then do you feel good?

Is that what determines happiness to us?

7. Difficulty distinguishing between 'Needs' and 'Wants'

Because we have been so brain-washed by social media and advertisements, we fail to tell the difference between a need or want anymore. You hear kids saying, "I need the latest iPhone!" or "I totally need a new this and that!"

No. You don't need that. You want that.

You need food. You need clothes. You need an education.

Spending on needs should always be a priority. Wants come later.

Till next time,
Teenage Investor


  1. Glad you have the insight to see through these. You're a wise head on young shoulders!

    1. Hi RetailTrader! Thank you for your kind words haha!

  2. Blame the parents for indulging their children.

    1. Hi Lizardo! I think many parents indulge their children because they can't spend time with them. Also, they do not teach them the importance of saving and so on.

  3. Teenage Investing,


    Wow! Times have changed!

    My time we just go to Changi beach and find a dark spot...


    1. Hi SMOL! HAHA! Yes, our generation are splurging on stay cations so often it's almost a norm to book hotel rooms for birthday celebrations, anniversary celebrations, christmas and so on.


  4. Don't try to save on a pair of good shoe and don't even try to extend the lifespan of your shoe.

    Pay attention to your shoe. It will tell you when to change.

    My shoe is the most expensive single branded item attached on to my human body.


    1. Hi UncleCW! Wise words, I may not understand completely the meaning behind them but I think buying a good pair of shoe is reasonable if it lasts. Buying a shoe, just for the brand or because everyone else is wearing it is different haha

    2. Our feet are very valuable component for branded BMW (Bus, MRT, Walk) and needs serious protection for this critical asset.

      See our shoe as asset protection. Good pair of shoes is never cheap.

      Never try to extend the lifespan of our shoe. Once we have a bad fall due to the wear out shoe, it will cost a lots more than a pair of new shoes. Not counting the cost of the pain. Ha Ha!

  5. Hi there! I agree, most kids of your age don't understand the value of money and splurge on expensive goods, and don't think about the quality of it. With almost everything sourced from China/India/Vietnam/etc. it is extremely important to pay attention to product quality.

    PS: I started my investment blog, I do hope we can exchange links :)

  6. hey there brother ! Chanced upon your blog shred by a friend of mine , do read mine if you're bored :) Cheers and continue to spread the message of financial literacy around!

    1. Hi Ken! I browsed through your blog. You're interested in precious metals?

  7. Oh , ps. forgot to add , we have a bit of shared experiences in common :)

  8. Totally true about this and I'm ashamed to be one myself among the examples you've stated! This post made me think twice right now and I'm definitely gonna improve on my discipline on money management

    1. Hi Melody! That's good to hear! All the best :)

  9. people change. nowadays in their school or society, students are constantly being influenced or so called 'peer pressure' by their peers among them and not wanting to be left out. I guess its not a 'want' anymore, maybe its a 'need'. Basic indulgence can be changed by moral values on how in our world today, it is difficult to earn money.

    1. Hi Anon! I disagree. A want and a need should always be two different things. We have a choice. We don't always have to spend on a 'want' just to fit in.

  10. Hi i used to be a poly student, and you've hit the points straight on.

    Unfortunately in poly I was a Dork / nerd / plain jane, so I didnt saw the need to impress / my friends didnt care about that.

    Anyway here are a few tips to help you:
    1. bring your own bottle. the poly campuses have an abundance of water cooler stations, saves you the expense of buying drinks.

    2. if you cant live without your morning coffee, carry a small flask of it to sch with you. Same applies for your juice / tea / yoghurt drink.

    dating: ive only started dating in uni, but the expense of dating is the same:
    3: go for simple dates like walking / having picnic / visiting new places instead of the usual movie / cafe / dinner combo. The simple dates usually build experiences you have with your SO instead of buying them expensive things. Memories and experiences cannot be replaced, but im pretty sure your expensive gifts can be purchased easily.

    Anyway, all the best for your poly life!

    1. Hi Anon! Yes sugary drinks are unhealthy and we can save a lot on that. I believe simple dates work best for the people that truly care about you. Those that want expensive stay cations to determine love may not be the right couple for each other.

  11. I think we're like-minded! I totally feel the same. As for me, I don't spend that much even I have the ability to do so. Probably a movie in a few months(just torrent it haha), coffeeshop or hawker centre food, restaurants once in a while, don't really buy much clothes, save up my money to invest, do some small businesses. I would say my family background is quite well, have the means to afford probably 4-5 landed properties without bank loans. But I believe my parents taught me well. I guess the way parents' spending behaviours really affect their child. As quoted by many: Usually above the very high net worth individuals(net worth of at least US$5M) or the ones that don't have the spending power are thrifty. The ones in the middle(usually those who's net worth around $2-3m, are scary.". Because the very high net worth individuals knows when and what to spend on, otherwise they would not be where they are today. Not that they dont spend, but what they spend are actually worth the price they are paying. They don't have to show, because they are already affluent. Whereas, for the ones in between, they actually want people to think that they are rich. In fact, what they show is just on the surface.

    1. Hi Anon! Very wise words. I agree wholeheartedly.

  12. Hi! A very insightful blog that is mostly true. However, I'd like to point out that yes, while poly students do club and buy alcohol, it's not on a weekly basis for most of us. There are some that can afford it but most of us in fact can't, so your claim that poly students spending large amounts of money every week, with a large chunk being clubbing and alcohol isn't completely accurate. (Coming from a poly student who's so busy she can't even think about clubbing) this being said, there are students who spend extravagantly and carelessly (:

    1. Hi Shyuen! I did not claim that poly students spend large amounts of money every week. What I said was, the average teen might spend in a week. Not a month!

      It is true that even if they club once a week, the expenses would be significantly higher in that week than the remaining 3 weeks. Therefore I stand firm behind my post :)

  13. Actually i think what's more important is the ability to look ahead to how much will you need for the week/month. Like for me i like to cab a lot but if i spend more here i will spend less there and i guess you get the idea.. It feels good to spend but the after effect of spending too much isn't too great yea. Btw, what do you invest? I actually trade stocks and i'm interested to learn something from you :)

  14. I beg to differ on the shoe part. People in Singapore hardly wears New Balance shoes. They tends to wear boots like redwing or dr marteen's (which in my opinion, its an expensive shoes and its not comfortable to wear around). New Balance is very popular in South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. But not in Singapore. Because Singaporeans in general, are bunch of followers. They don't have their own sense of style. Monkey see monkey do.

    Nike shoes isn't that popular either. Its crazily popular in Aussie but not in Singapore. Poly people are very much into A&F and that kind of stuff.

    Other than that, clubbing, act and dress like hipster, and being a shopaholic for fashion apparels are the most common people in a polytechnic.