Varsity Blues with Akachi Okugo
By Akachi Okugo \\\ Former Student-Athlete, Current Free Agent
Hello!! My name is Akachi Okugo and I graduated from Cal State University San Marcos in 2016. Prior to graduating from CSUSM, my college experience and road to graduation was a little bumpy; and although I was on a full ride for three out of my four years in college, finances were still a struggle. Throughout my first two years of college, I didn’t know much about managing finances or how to budget my money in order to benefit my pockets.
The only reason I survived is because I am a naturally cheap person. Thanks, dad (lol)!
Looking back on my college experience, I had a different financial strategy each year because each school I attended presented their athletic scholarships in different ways.
The first school I attended was Yuba College. While I was there, I didn’t receive any scholarship money because it wasn’t a national junior college and the school was not legally able to give out athletic scholarships. I also couldn’t receive financial aid because my parents did not qualify with their income, so for that year I was very fortunate to have my parents help me out financially. Since I don’t like asking my parents for money, I worked at the snack bar at local basketball tournaments for money on the side. Depending on my hours, I would usually make a little over $120 every weekend. In order to build up a little bit of savings, I would only try to spend about $80 the following week, which left me about $40 a week to put away in my reserve funds.
When I transferred to Grand Canyon University, things got a little better because I was on a full ride, and they treated their athletes pretty nicely. School, books, on-campus meals, and housing was paid for, but there was one big problem...
I had ZERO pocket money!
The only personal money I had on the side was from our road trips because we would get per diem. Per diem ranged from $100-375 a trip depending on how long we were gone, so I was definitely looking forward to away games just for that reason! All my money was from saving up from per diem. For example, when we went to Chattanooga, Tennessee for a tournament we received $250 for three days. In addition to that money, all of our meals are paid for, so I avoided spending any of the $250 on our trip and pocketed all that money for when we returned home.
Throughout my first two years of college, I didn’t know much about managing finances or how to budget my money in order to benefit my pockets.
At Cal State San Marcos, I managed my money a bit differently because of the way my scholarship was set up. I received a scholarship check, which was primarily for my rent and books. Whatever I had left over after those expenses was mine to keep. Knowing that, it was essential for me to live in a place that was less expensive so that I could have more money left over at the end of the month. I lived in a townhouse where I was paying $450 a month. Fortunately, I didn’t have to buy any books because I finessed my way into meeting classmates who would let me share with them, so that saved me about $500 right there. The majority of money I spent was on food and gas, because I had my car with me and my scholarship didn’t cover on-campus meals. When I would run low on money, I would work on the weekends at AAU basketball tournaments for some quick cash. The cost for all of my gas and food really added up, and since we only received one check each semester, there were definitely times I would run low on money.
Overall, my college experience was a good one, but on the financial side of it, things weren’t always as sweet as they seemed. Not being able to actually get a job because you are so consumed with practice and class puts your wallet at a disadvantage, so I had to take action to save any money I could so that I would have a little bit of cash in my pockets at the end of the day.
Secure Your Bag! **DJ Khaled Voice**
Akachi Okugo was a basketball student-athlete throughout his college tenure. Akachi majored in Social Sciences with an emphasis in Communications. He is currently a free agent pursuing basketball opportunities overseas. In the meantime, Akachi is working in various entrepreneur endeavors focused within the media and entertainment field. Akachi Okugo is the immediate younger brother of Amobi Okugo and played a key role in the launch of Frugal Athlete.