As an introverted kid with low-key social anxiety, I had mixed feelings about going to college. The idea of meeting new people scared the crap out of me. The fact that college was this huge event in your life that decides your future didn’t help either. Looking back, it’s safe to say that college wasn't as dramatic an experience. On the whole, a pretty positive one. I met different kinds of people, had many “firsts”, and emerged a different person.
College is also a big part of your journey towards financial freedom. I mean, that’s kind of why we go to college, right? 🤷♂️
It’s supposed to be the gateway to earning your own money and becoming independent. Needless to say, I didn’t care about any of this at the time I was too busy freaking out about meeting strangers. Money was something else I'd never thought too much of, thanks to my privilege.
I stayed with family all through college, which made it a much cheaper affair for me. This took the pressure off me to live within a shoe-string budget. It also meant I didn't have the opportunity to learn financial discipline the hard way. That said, the money related experiences college students face weren’t lost on me. Hanging out with them after class, I got to know them and their early financial journey’s a little better.
The Hustler 🦸♀️
The most intense of the lot, the hustler will live life on their terms at any cost. Hustlers tend to do crazy things — for example, not taking money from their parents. They find themselves in situations that push them to be entrepreneurial and disciplined. A close friend who chose to walk this path would always be running to a side gig after college hours. Constantly on the lookout for opportunities to freelance / intern, her lifestyle was directly a result of her income. Making enough to cover rent and basics are top of mind for the hustler. Stress and anxiety are a part and parcel, but they also constantly push themselves to up-skill and aim for better opportunities.
The Hermit 🙇♂️
Eternally broke, the hermit epitomises the average Indian college student's life. Admirable in their attempt to live within their budget, these people have tried giving up life’s expensive pleasures, such as drinking at a bar. Generally found drunk in their apartment on Old Monk, they're the first to suggest the cheapest plans. The hermit always thinks of pulling a page out of the Hustler’s book to get some extra cash, but it somehow never happens. Most of these folks are likeable until they guilt you into buying them a meal which happens to be every other day. You would be wise to consider these meals as gifts and not loans. Lucky for you, “chai-sutta” qualifies as a meal.
The Fancy kid 🤴
You can tell when certain parents love their kids a little too much. Usually seen driving around, these individuals are always up to go get a drink at a bar and have lunch at the fanciest cafes. They have a separate budget to live their best life, which lasts till the 20th of each month. And when the tap does start running dry, they transform into an extravagant version of the hermit.
The All-rounder 🤸♀️
Balance is the name of the game. On top of their academics and extracurriculars, the all-rounder seems to do everything right. They “seem” to live on a reasonable budget, have a balanced lifestyle, and be on top of their game. Reasonably careful with their money, they aren’t hesitant to spend on their interests. In attempting the balancing act, the all-rounder sometimes gives into youthful exuberance, usually going overboard on having a good time (usually a combination of food and alcohol). When that does happen, the all-rounder doesn’t look too different from the hermit.
Well… why am I talking about these people?
Unaware at the time, the behaviours of these individuals around me influenced my thinking in a few subtle, yet extremely important ways.
Stepping into college as a lazy kid, the hustler taught me the most important lesson: “the value of money”. Seeing them be on top of their game every single day, to cover the basics of life made me realise exactly how tiring being an adult is!
Being born into privilege, I didn’t appreciate “the art of stretching a rupee”. That is until I saw the hermits around me haggle for every rupee with difficult autowalas and the college canteen cashier.
Somewhat counterintuitive to the lessons above but important, the fancy kids taught me “how to have fun” by spending on things that you can afford and care about. Never mind that they went broke towards the end of the month because YOLO right?
The all-rounder taught me the importance of living “a balanced life”. Despite having their moments of weakness, their generally balanced approach with money gave them the option to spend on various activities.
My biggest learning?
It is important to build empathy towards individuals by understanding their own learning curve a little better — guided by their experiences, interests, and beliefs. Seeing the decisions they made play out in real time and deal with the consequences, I developed an insight into their unique personalities, which also provided me an opportunity to build deeper relationships with these individuals.
In addition to improving my social skills, college helped me develop a basic sense for managing money by learning from people around me. More importantly, it made me realize how enabling environments can be, where money isn’t a stigma. Nobody judges you for being broke in college — most people are.
The stigma and judgement associated with money, oftentimes, cloud our thinking on what we want to do with our money. By breaking out of this cycle of judgement, we maximize our chances of making money decisions that are truly right for us. ✨
Think this adds up? Or makes no sense? We’d love to hear from you, in either case and chat about other personalities you’ve met. Feel free to reach out to us on 📢 Instagram or write to me at 📩 firstname.lastname@example.org.