Category Archives: Money Matters

The Rich Pauper

Once upon a time, there was a pretty little girl who was sent to a land far, far away to seek knowledge in a very, very difficult subject with high hopes of bringing prosperity and wealth to her family at least, if not the country.

Having allowances which totalled to less than most of her companion’s who are financially supported by grants, government or private institutions, she did a remarkable job of managing her expenses to be able to travel ever so frequently to London and the occasional Oxford trips.

She attended various student meetings, indulged in intellectual discourse, tea parties, film shootings, and a whole host of other revelries (which had nothing to do with the subject she is doing) rubbing shoulders with famous and, or important people. She had just recently moved into her new home abroad, situated in an excellent location close to the city centre. Her favoured method of unwinding would be sipping Vanilla Chai while watching sunset, reading some literary classics while Joe Hisaishi’s music plays in the background.

Throughout her time abroad, she made a small circle of close friends, who formed her little support team away from home. Having brought up by hand by her somewhat strict mother, politeness and speaking well was second nature. That and her ability to carry an intellectual conversations together with the effort to put on a simple black dress when turning up to formal events gave many the impression that she had an affluent background.

(Truth to be told, watch her Facebook wall and you’ll see a massive list of lame jokes, gibberish jargon, thoroughly dislikes brushing her hair and even burps unembarrassed. The dresses she wore are the ones she has had for years. People don’t really notice her using the same dress repeatedly as she frequently improvises the style she puts them on.)

Shortly just before she was due to return briefly to her homeland, she found that her money has somehow sprouted little feet being everywhere but in her bank account. Her previous landlord has yet to release the previous house’s deposit and her previous house mate has yet to return the utility bill payment refund. Her mother had sent for her a little sum for her to pay the month’s rent, but the transaction has yet to be approved.

Oh, dear! How is she to go round the problem?

The protagonist of the story resorted to emptying her savings account to pay half the month’s rent and with the mighty pen, wrote a little apology letter on the envelope enclosing the cash to be given to her current landlady.

So ladies and gentlemen, my sincerest apologies for not being able to bring back any souvenirs or chocolates. I will do so when I return in my final year. I will try to get a whole box of assorted University of Bath’s merchandise to be distributed and scour some really, really good chocolates (not the sort sold at airports) for my close family and friends. For the time being I’ll make up with some really wicked chocolate cupcake and, or home-made tiramisu (sans alcohol). After all, it’s me and not the souvenirs the reason why everyone wants to hang-out with me, right?


‘Promotional Offers’

I received a call today from a representative of a certain Sapphire Studios in central London saying that I have won a ‘VIP Photo Package’, a lucky draw from a list of contacts put forward by a genuine friend of mine. Searching them up on Google produced a list of threads where customers vented out their dissatisfation due to having lured into something they did not ask for and stories from other people who received similar calls as well.

“Hi (my name), how are you today?”

Been busy.

“Darling you have just won a VIP ticket to a photoshoot…”

Erm? Okay.

Your friend so-and-so have recently had a session with us. Have you not seen any of her pictures on Facebook?”


“Alright, so she’s forwarded a list of friends for a lucky draw for the photoshoot and you got it! Are you excited?”

(Fake) Yay!

“…luxurious and professional makeover…”

” You can also bring a friend with you!”

(another fake) Yay!

“… photography… (blah blah blah)….does it make sense to you?”

Of course!

“Now, if you do work from Monday to Friday, just to let you know we are open 7 days a week.

“Darling, this ticket is valid for three months. Now we just need to generate a tentative date so you don’t miss out on the offer.”


“….professional makeover…So who are you going to bring with you?”

My mum.

“That’s fantastic! Now, are you sitting in front of a computer? You can go to our website, typie in w-w-w-dot-s-a-p P for Papa, p-h-i-r-e-studios-dot-co-dot-uk. Have you got to the main page?”


“You can go to the gallery section and view the pictures….(blah blah blah)…have you been in a fashion photoshoot before?”

Nope. But I have done film photography for a friend at Ealing Studios..

“Wow! That’s fantastic! Now darling, if you would just give me your details so we could generate your ticket and have it sent directly to your email…(blah blah blah)…. does it makes sense to you?”

(Sarcastic) Yeah.

“This is a promotional offer, we are trying to gain publicity by offering free photoshoots since we are a relatively new studio…(blah blah blah)….does it makes sense to you?”

Yeah. I was the Publicity Officer for one of the student societies in uni…

Excellent…(blah blah blah)…we need a deposit of £300 to secure your VIP session…(blah blah blah)…”

Wait. You’re asking for my debit card details?

“…you know how when you’re doing a transaction on the phone they ask for the number behind the card (blah blah blah) but we’re not going to do that…(blah blah blah)…”

Oh, so sorry! My (imaginary) boss is coming. I’ve got to put down the phone.

“Can you confirm the dates with us (blah blah blah)….”

I really, really have to go. Sorry! Bye!

*Ends call*

Later I gave a shout out to my friend, and she confirmed it was real. She did go for the photoshoot but didn’t buy any pictures. The person who dealed with them at the end of the day weren’t happy when they said “No” and proceeded to bitch about them to a colleague within earshot. My friend and her companion walked out of the studio after that.

The studio was charging about £46 per photo. On the threads I found, that was the price given for the first piece. Subsequent photos were charged at £95 each.

I would normally reply “Sorry, not interested” with these kind of people, but I simply wanted to know where the conversation was heading (apart from practicing my acting skills haha!).  I was curious to know if the contact list was legitimately obtained, or leaked from a database. Had I wanted a pretty picture of myself I could have just called up several friends (who are semi-pros in this sort of thing) and have more fun organising our own photoshoot.

The following are my friend’s testimonial on her experience;

“my friend V got recommended by her friend to go for this free photoshoot thing, which she accepted cos her friend verified it and she paid around 100 for deposit (because apparently they lose money if u dont show up and they need to prepare the photographers and all that) which they assured her is fully refundable.

so she asked me to go as her guest and we went on the same day with another pair of friends. it was fine when they do your make up and hair and all, nice to u, photographer very friendly and made the session fun.

then we were given forms to fill in to recommend others, kononnya for free gifts (apparently its cheap make up products, whatever la) so i just simply put those i thought might enjoy, some of the numbers i put friends dont use anymore. after they collected the forms we went upstairs to look at the pictures. they were..okay la. did not make me look like a goddess.

V and i didnt plan to buy before we went for the photoshoot anyway, 46 pounds for one photo u think our dads print money is it. just went for the experience, thought it sounded fun. then the lady wasnt happy, in fact abit annoyed when she asked what our budget was and we replied that we didnt really have a budget and just wanted to see how it went and then decide. lagi not encouraged to buy la kan?

anyway the price on the website gives 46 per photo, she offered to give us 2 for our deposit (im not sure if the deposite was exactly 100, but somewhere around there), then she said she’d give us 2 each and 1 together for the deposit, a total of 5. still expensive la. so after we told her we didnt want to buy, she was like fine and all, did the deposit refund paperwork and then when we walked out of the room she went into another room. that room’s door was open and we heard her say loudly apa bitch la bla bla she offered 5 already still dont want buy bla bla o.O so that ruined the whole experience la basically.

we walked out straight away telling our pair of friends about it after that didnt even want to claim the free gift or whatever. but the other pair of friends were fine – they didnt experience that. so its real la but only go if u want the experience and ur able to say no firmly and not feel bad hahah then again i cant promise that u wont experience what i did.”

Stay safe people!

Chop! Chop!

I popped by Boots to get some echinacea tablets when I stumbled upon a pair of quality Tresemmé hair cutting kit. At £16.33 it was almost double the price of a similar one from Boots but I bought it anyway as my tresses was in dire need of a trim.

FYI: Echinacea is said to help prevent or shorten the duration of a cold/flu infection. It works by increasing your white blood cell count (i.e : the good guys who fight the baddies in your body). I’m hoping it would see me through my exams with minimum glitch, as right now there is a bout of infection around campus.

It took me nearly two hours to finish. Given no training and this is the first time cutting own hair, I managed to pull off the layers rather nicely. Doing the back of the head was tricky business, but I found a way to sort of pull back sections of hair, raise it above the head where you can see your hand holding it in the mirror, and chop it off. The edges were kept from looking blunt by layering the ends at the end of the process.

I tore the seams of two bin liners and used it to line the floor of my room prior to my DIY project. That’s the pile of hair which got lopped off.

My head feels so light! I saved my pounds, bounce is restored to my curls, and I pulled off the feat of brushing my hair WOO-HOO! Even the sun came out today after several hours of rain.

I shall now happily resume revision.

Money Matters #2

Dear readers, sorry for taking some time to update. Been caught up with my lectures lately, and Physical Chemistry lectures are becoming a pain in the you-know-where. Moving on…

On my previous post, I listed down (roughly) all my expenses. You would notice that expenses for transport outnumbered the costs of some of my books. Actually, it is not that costly. If you look at it carefully, I bought a five week ticket. This would average out to about £10.56, which is almost  £6.00 savings compared to buying a one week ticket. Return train tickets from London are rather expensive, but I’m planning to get a student Railpass which entitles you to 1/3 discount off off-peak journeys.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I have not been spending too much on food. The items listed under kitchen are one-time buys. I consider them as an investment so maintain the low cost of everyday meals as it is considerably cheaper to prepare your own food.

The shoe I left out cost  £39.90 but since I bought it from Clarks, I also consider it another investment as they would definitely outlast most shoes bought from discount stores. I bought an All-in-One HP Deskjet from one of my housemate who just moved out last week for  £16.48 which proved useful as I can now scan and hand in my assignment online from home. That’s another investment xD

Remember that sometimes you just have to splurge out on certain things (such as a good pair of shoes) to save your pennies in the long run.

Till the next post, au revoir!

Money Matters #1

When you are studying abroad with limited finances, managing your money is an extremely important thing to do. First, you do not want to further burden your parents (if you are self-sponsored, that is) because you have to keep in mind that they too, need to eat. Secondly, if by chance you have completely dried up your account, there is no mummy or daddy to cry to – unless, by chance, you happen to win a free air ticket halfway across the globe.

I wrote down most of my expenses, and here’s a preview.

Note the scribble under the “Grand Total”. Some of the receipts have been hiding away in the nooks of my room and for a while I got locked out of my internet banking due to repeated typo error while keying in the security number. Anyway, this is just a draft. There is quite a list of things that should be in the list such as that-t-shirt-you-bought-because-you-didn’t-do-your-laundry-so-you-have-nothing-to-wear, the-pair-of-black-pumps-you-bought-because-your-sneakers-got-wet-in-the-rain, the-bar-of-chocolate-because-you-were-craving-for-one, the-chocolate-muffin-you-bought-on-the-way-back-from-doing-your-groceries…etc and it all costs money. You can say that, Oh, it only costs 70p but if you accumulate the number of times you did that, you could have probably bought two or three decent lunches instead.

Later I shall put up a post on how I intend to cut my spending for the next few months.