Adulting Hacks 101: A Student’s Guide to Personal Finance

UP JFA Pisopedia
6 min readAug 24, 2020

Hello, fellow student!

As each day passes by, the inevitable comes closer. Aging. Growing. Adulting. Long gone will the good ol’ days be — spending mom and dad’s money impulsively and carelessly. As scary as it is, sooner or later, we have to step out of the house (but not in the middle of this pandemic) and hustle for the future. Making money is not easy, so is using it wisely. As early as now, it is really important to gear up and build good financial habits that will save us from all the money disasters and drama.

I asked people from diverse backgrounds (and the internet ofc) to share some of their secret hacks when it comes to personal finance. Here are the 10 golden tips I scored from them:

  1. Have a vision. Set your financial goals.

As many would say, how can you get what you want if you don’t know what it is? One cannot hit the bullseye by aiming blindlessly. The same goes in managing your personal finance. Have a vision. Set your financial goals. Jot these down on a piece of paper or on a digital note. For example, I want to buy a brand new laptop in eight months, or I want to save up Php 50,000 for future college expenses. Goals allow you to have a better picture of what to do — both long-term and short-term. It directs your actions and helps you stay focused.

2. Make a budgeting plan, and STICK WITH IT.

Now that you have financial goals, the next step is it to have a concrete plan and to STICK WITH IT. There are many budgeting strategies and some of the most prominent ones include the 50/30/20 Rule, the Envelope System and the Pay-Yourself-First System. These strategies are mostly allocation systems that allow you to use your money (i.e. allowance) efficiently. Maximizing these strategies requires knowing the difference between needs and wants and gauging values and priorities. Moreover, train yourself to stick with it and curb spending habits.

3. Build. Build. Build — an emergency fund.

Years of existence would have taught you that life is full of uncertainties. Today, you may be enjoying all the finest things in life; tomorrow, you may not. You don’t know when another pandemic will strike (hopefully never again). Someone might steal from you the next day, or maybe, your laptop might break down next month (please, no). The thing is, we never know what will happen tomorrow and this is the reason why it is important to set money aside — for emergencies and the future. One of the best features of many budgeting plans is treating savings as an essential part of your income (or allowance). To save, you can either open a savings account or even use any container you have at home. You can also tweak your mindset by treating expense as a leftover after deducting savings from your income, not the other way around.

4. Time’s up, pay up your debts!

Financial stability is not only about saving up for the future, it also includes paying off debts and other liabilities. Students like us may borrow small amounts from friends, or family members. As common courtesy, always return what you borrow. You never know how important it is to someone or when a spare comes in handy. If you paid promptly, maybe your friend wouldn’t have walked home because he had no coins left or maybe your sister wouldn’t have skipped a meal just to budget her remaining allowance. Lucky for you, you know the lender. If it was the bank or someone else, you may incur additional penalty charges for missed payments. Start good habits early! Remember to track your debts and pay them off one-by-one, no matter how small. Also, don’t borrow what you can’t return.

5. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

As the famous sustainability adage goes ⁠ — reduce, reuse, recycle.. The same is applicable when talking about healthy saving and spending habits. There are numerous ways to save your precious allowance and here are some (added bonus: they are also eco-friendly!). One, reuse the back part of printed materials as scratch papers. Two, borrow instead of buying brand new items, if available. Three, instead of buying outside, why not prepare your own meal? Who knows? You might even discover a new hobby and make a good chef this quarantine period. Four, when face-to-face classes resume, bring your own refillable container and make use of free water stations or dispensers. And five, walking is an option when travelling inside campus (after the pandemic of course). Not only do you save up for yourself, you also reduce your carbon footprint. Mother Nature approves!

6. Score big deals with student privileges and discounts.

If buying is inevitable, fret not! Thanks to your student title, you get privileges and discounts as mandated by laws or as sponsored by schools and business establishments. Research or ask your school administrators for a list of good deals. For example, some schools provide free software programs and educational resources to their students. They may even partner up with bookstores, gadget centers, gas stations and restaurants for membership discounts. Also, don’t forget the 20% discount in public utility vehicles (PUVs). Score big deals, make a three!

7. “From all the online shops around me, defend me”

Ding dong, your delivery is here! Do you find yourself spending at least an hour everyday scrolling through the product catalog of Shopee, Lazada or Zalora? Name more. Online shopping might be your stress reliever in the middle of this pandemic, but please, hold up. Addiction is real. You might not notice how much you’ve spent in total because individual transactions seem small. Protect yourself from online shops. Combat impulsive buying by uninstalling e-commerce apps. If impossible, differentiate your needs from wants, reassess your priorities and plan purchases in advance. Spend wise, spend less!

8. Lifestyle Check

Flexing unsustainable lifestyle? Vibe check — totally not cool. If you’re trying to live a life just to impress others, stop right there! Oh, you got a better allowance? Extra money? Vibe check — still not cool. Lifestyle inflation is a common mindset problem. It is when you increase your spending to match the increase in your income. It’s okay to reward yourself, but know when enough is enough. Milk tea and samgyup here, Lazada and Shopee there. Oh, Muji and Hydroflasks sksksks. And just like that, you throw money away (to make it worse, in the middle of a pandemic). Now, you need to save up again, thinking a better allowance will save you. It is an endless cycle of increasing expenses and not saving anything. The antidote? Humility — live simple. Rather than spending more, make your extra money work and grow for you — invest, or run a small business. Totally rich dad moves!

9. Know your basic financial concepts.

Oops, wait a minute. Before you get all excited about investing and the like, make sure you know your basics. There are a lot of educational resources out there, make sure you get your hands on basic accounting, economics and financial materials.You may also listen to your local news station for different updates regarding prices of basic goods, the market, and other financial events (like COVID-19 which caused a global economic recession). Learning and staying informed will help you make more financially sound decisions. After all, investing in one’s knowledge is the best investment one can make.

10. The early investor catches the returns.

After everything else, the best way to achieve your financial goals is to make your money grow as early as possible. Be an early bird, and invest now, while you’re still young. This way, you get to benefit from the power of compound interest. Also, you get to know yourself better and experiment until you find the best strategy that works for you. Scared of failing? Michael Jordan said — to learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.

If you’re reading up to this point, congratulations for being awesome and taking the first step in managing your personal finance! It’s time to try it out and see the benefits yourself.

Don’t know where to start? Stay tuned and get more adulting tips, next time, about the basics of financial markets. Don’t forget to comment below if you have any additional tips, insights, or questions.

Until again, fellow student. Level up your finance game with UP JFA’s Pisopedia. See you next Saturday! 💚



UP JFA Pisopedia

Pisopedia is an online learning platform for Filipino students to learn more about personal finance.