5 Lessons I Learnt About Finances as an Undergraduate With a Monthly Allowance of Less Than 10k

Hey Family,

We still haven’t chosen a name to call ourselves o. Is Yadians okay? You guys let me know what you think. Sincerely, writing these posts have been reflective for me. It’s made me see that my life is a story book of Grace, adventure, mistakes and a lot of experiences. Quite a lot for a 20 year old if you ask me. One day, I’ll write my biography and you guys will read all about it. For now however, I’ll just share a couple of lessons I picked along the way. Already, I’ve shared the first five on this list, as derived from an addiction I once had with sex. Today, I’m sharing another five, this time on finances. We all need these.

Before I get into my stories, let me throw something in real quick. My parents are really good people and though they might have not given me the whole world while in school, they gave me their world. For their love, care and sacrifices, I am extremely grateful. My parents also raised me to be content with whatever I had, no matter how little. This lesson came in handy when I gained admission into the Obafemi Awolowo University and for four years, I had to learn how to live with an allowance that was barely sustainable, without envying friends and roommates who got more money than I did. However, a lot of folks might find this hard to believe because it never for once showed on me that I might be broke, which brings me to lesson #1:

  • God Is Your Source Of Provision, Not Your Parents, Not Anyone:

The average amount I got from my parents every month was 5k, but even as small as that was, I was never broke. Of course, there were days when I would run completely out of cash but somehow, I would always get something to sustain me before it could show on my face. At first, it was from my uncle. When I was in part one, he used to consistently give me at most 5k every time I see him, which was usually once in a semester. However the moment I became dependent on him and started to place my trust in him, that source got cut off. He just stopped giving me money. Then it was my aunty’s turn. I was so sure that whenever I travelled to see her, I wouldn’t come back empty. For a long time, it was so but after a while, just when I started to place my trust in her as well, the economy of Osun state, at the time affected her as a civil servant and that soon affected me. I guess all of these happened so God could show me He was actually my source of provision.

One day in my part two, I was in class (broke and with no uncle or aunt to turn to) and my friend, Opeyemi Harun asked if we could go grab some lunch. As I didn’t have any money, I told her to go without me and lied when she asked me if money was the issue. I guess she saw right through me cos she told me to escort her still. Then she went to an ATM and asked if I could make an envelope out of paper. When I said I couldn’t, she nodded and for most of the afternoon, we just kept going round the school together. Then I had to leave and she suddenly told me to turn around. Back then, I used to wear a school bag and I felt her drop something in it. She told me not to open my bag until I got to my room. When I did, I found that my friend had dropped in it a sum of 10,000 wrapped in an envelope made of paper. That day, I cried my eyes out. How could a fellow student like me, who wasn’t working, dash me that kind of money? I was awed but I learnt from that day forward that God can use any channel, absolutely any channel to provide for your needs. He is your source of provision and you have to trust Him always.

In as much as I have lots of stories to tell here, I’m beginning to spend too much time on this lesson but I can share them all with you guys if you ask me in the comment box below. Moving on to lesson #2:

  • Learn to save, No excuses:

Chai! I was a certified excuse giver and I had valid reasons o. I mean, how much was I getting from home that I would be saving from it? Also, if my allowance came in consistently at a particular time of the month, maybe I would still be able to save from the little I got. At least, I knew another one was coming at so and so time, but my allowance didn’t and so, I thought why would I come and starve myself, on top say I wan save?

As a result of this terrible, terrible mind set, I had no savings until one day in my part four when I took a 50 naira note in my hand and for some reason, I just kept staring at the serial number. There it struck me that the same note in my hand was in someone else’s hand the previous day and soon, I too would pass it on the woman who sold snacks, or a bus driver or just anybody else. That day, I realized that money goes in circles and while most people allow every amount that comes into their hands slip away, a few others have the sense enough to keep some by saving or investing. For those ones, their bank accounts just can’t go red.

Just to explain a bit further, you see this 20 naira I'm holding right here? Yeah. This same note, with this particular serial number was with somebody else yesterday. When I spend it, it is transferred to another person. That's how money goes. In circles.
Just to explain a bit further, you see this 20 naira I’m holding right here? Yeah. This same note, with this particular serial number was with somebody else yesterday. When I spend it, it is transferred to another person. That’s how money goes. In circles.

To cultivate the saving culture therefore, I immediately:

  1. Found someone I could account to financially.
  2. Decided that I would split any amount I got, no matter how little and save a quarter and
  3. Opened another bank account to house my savings.

It worked. Although it pained me that I employed the savings culture so late and that I wasn’t able to reach my target when leaving school, I was glad that I didn’t finish school only to start asking my parents for money to make my hair again. So, no matter how little you are getting, learn to save something and maintain that culture for life. But how did I now cope with having to save from so little? This brings me to lesson #3:

  • Work, if you can:

To sustain myself in the university, I also had to work. Although I knew I couldn’t involve myself in a full time job, I however took up virtual jobs that didn’t demand priority over my studentship, such as creating content for blogs, political campaigns, etc. Once, I also maximized my holiday and took up a full time job as a sales representative for a betting establishment. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted and I was really embarrassed to tell my friends that I was working in a betting house, I was able to make some money, which ultimately made savings easier.

So, don’t be overly dependent on your parents or guardian. Don’t also sit down on your hands waiting for your dream job to just come your way.  If you can, then use your cooking, baking, makeup, writing, planning or any other entrepreneurial skills you have to create some profitable value for the society.

I really wish I learnt some of these things earlier, but anyway, in at lesson no #4:

  • You can spend your money in percentages:

This lesson I also learnt super late but thanks to one of my mentors, Olaoluwa Oladokun, I’m glad I did. So, lets say I’m earning 10k. I can decide to break my spendings into percentages. Here’s how: Say for instance, I put 10% into tithing, 30% into my savings, 40% into general spending and the remaining 30% into transport or feeding. This way of spending will help keep me in check. With a lot of discipline of course, I know that no matter the cravings I have to buy a new bag or dress, I cannot spend beyond the 40% I have allocated for general spending. Even if this means that for now, I can’t afford to wear Gucci and have to make do with some heavily subsidized stuffs, I also know that in the nearest future, when I start earning 1,000,000 monthly, this same 40% would have increased enough to afford me some good designer stulves. When I started spending my money in percentages, I was able to cope even with so little and still save, but like I said, this takes a lot of discipline o. Even I stopped for a long time before starting again. Now moving on to lesson #5:

  • Give:

This one sounds funny, right? Like how can I be telling you to split your money, save from it and still give from so little? Is that even possible?

Well, yes it is. During my undergraduate years, I met two amazing ladies who could give like crazy! Opeyemi and Deborah gave to people before they thought about it and it awed me every time, the extent at which they gave. When I tried to meet up with their pace, I couldn’t. I just didn’t have as much to give but my friends made me see that money isn’t actually the only thing that one could give. In my final year, I shared my bed space with a friend who had nowhere else to stay. Once in a while, I also shared my food or foodstuffs with others and when I had to give money, I gave that as well. I knew that when one sows a seed, one reaps the harvest in folds and that was why I wasn’t surprised when my friend’s mum took me as her own daughter and sent foodstuffs to me, anytime she sent to my friend. Anytime I gave money to meet someone’s need, I usually told myself (still do) that it’s just money, it’ll keep coming back and guess what? It did. I was immeasurably blessed. I never lacked food or companionship and every time I gave, it was returned to me in good measures, shaken together and running over.

So, those are the five lessons and I should stop here, right? Yeah, but when I asked my younger sister who is also presently in my shoes as an undergraduate the things she’s been learning, she replied me with a full stomped “Money is not everything!” response. So, as a jara lesson, here’s #no 6:

  • Money is not everything:

As an undergraduate, I learnt to place priority on such things as food stuffs, so that when I ran out of money, I could still have food to eat. Money actually isn’t everything, so look around for other resources you can harness for your sustainance when you are broke and place priority on them now. It’s like making an investment while you have the money to.

It’s a long post, I know. I’m sorry. There are still a million and one financial lessons in this world but I’ll just stop here. I hope this helps someone. Still in the spirit of compiling my lessons, my next post is on the 5 lessons I learnt from my unreturned crushes. LOL. So, I liked guys who didn’t like me back and I was single for a long time, so what? I’ll share all that later. For now, just take some of these lessons and go apply them. I’m also taking my own advice, because, (whispering) we are kinda all in this together. See you later, guys. Bye.

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Author: seun olagunju

Just a simple 22 year old all out to making an impact.

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