As prices increase due to rising inflation across the country, PCC students are learning how to manage their budgets as well as cut back on their spending habits in their lives.
Inflation has had an historic rise over the last year, reaching an 8.6% increase in June 2022, as noted by an article by AP News, which has led to the costs of everything from gasoline to groceries rising an incredible amount. Every sector’s prices have gone up considerably making it harder and harder for students to get things that they need.
These price increases have created a unique struggle for students. Inflation has become a struggle that presents a conscious choice between what is needed and what is wanted.
Xiatlali Santillan is a student here at PCC who is struggling with the recent inflation. What once was a simple purchase is now a struggle to ensure that she still has money to support herself at the end of the day. As the costs of everyday items like food are so high now, the idea of even going shopping becomes a scary but necessary reality for her.
“Food is a necessity, obviously, but getting what I need is so much harder now with these increased costs,” Santillan said. “I go [to the grocery store] about three to four times a month, and I have to seriously consider what items I get cause what used to be so cheap is so expensive now.”
Students like Santillan have been forced due to these struggles, to eat less healthily simply because it is cheaper. Eating out is easier in a lot of cases, regardless of how it may be for their health.
“A stack of hamburger buns can cost more than a McDonald’s cheeseburger that I could get for two dollars, so why would I spend the extra money,” Santillan said.
These choices are one of many that Santillan is turning to make sure that she can support herself. It might not always be perfect, but it is the choice that comes up when considering saving money or using it.
The increase in costs has also affected how people spend their free time while off from school. There are some activities that people have done in the past, like online shopping, trips to theme parks, and going out with friends that has now become a thing of the past. It just isn’t practical anymore to do these activities, according to Keana Roxas, a student at PCC.
“I have a bad habit of collecting bikinis, and I’ve had to slow down with that in recent months,” Roxas said. “We’ve also had to stop our trips to Universal or Six Flags. We used to go like two to three times a month but recently we haven’t gone in six months.”
This increase in cost hasn’t just limited Roxas going to theme parks. While going out with her friends was a highlight of her free time, the increase in costs has forced her to slow down on eating out with friends as well. Roxas’s bills began to stack up, especially when she is out with a larger group. Roxas and her friends, because of this, chose to stay inside to try and save money.
These increasing prices have also pushed students to take up jobs that they haven’t had before, or in some cases making them take several jobs on top of a full-time course schedule to ensure they have money for themselves, according to full-time student Vohn Castillo.
“I have three jobs: a basketball trainer, working at a gelato place as a manager, as well as running my clothing brand on top of all my coursework,” Castillo said. “It’s incredibly hard, and I always have to change my priorities. Like if I have a new client for basketball then I prioritize that over my clothing brand, or if an exam happens then that’s more important, and it repeats like that.”
This constant balance can be hard for students like Castillo, because it adds another layer of stress that can be scary for some. But for Castillo, deciding to work and go to school is a choice he has to make to ensure that he can support himself and still be successful in the future.