Talking about money can be a slightly taboo topic at university. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve begrudgingly wondered how some of my friends are able to go to the Lash and Juice every week, all whilst wearing brand-new outfits that they’ve bought especially. The truth is, however, that they may not actually be able to afford them. It may leave some red-faced to admit just how far into that endless money pit they actually are. You might be surprised to learn just how people are managing (or maybe not managing) their finances.
It is a bit of a shock to the system when you get your first instalment of student loan. Even three years in, I still get ecstatic when those noughts appear on my bank balance. However, it is important to see the bigger picture. If you work out roughly how much money you will need to live off every week, you can split this up and then work out if you’ll have any left over. If you do, great! If not, you may have to consider other means of getting some money coming in. If you’re not in a position where you can be financially supported by your parents or guardians, you may need to look into getting a job.
I’m a massive advocate for getting a part time job whilst at university. I’ve heard horror stories from parents who suggest that it is ludicrous to work, as you should be fully engaging in your studies. However, the reality is that many of us will spend the hours that we’re not in lectures in front of the TV wasting our days away. If you find you’ve got a lot of free time in your week, consider looking for work. I’m not suggesting you should work long hours, but small jobs here and there can help to accumulate the pounds. For me, keeping busy with work and extra-curricular activities can also make me more productive as I learn how to manage my time more effectively.
An overdraft facility can and usually is a temporary lifesaver for most of us until the next instalment arrives in January. But if you don’t want to add to the never-ending minus figures, consider looking at casual employment. The Jobshop at Cardiff University Student’s Union is a great facility which offers casual part time work with little-to-no commitment. If you are already in your overdraft, it might be a good idea to work sporadically to get an extra bit of money, and then when January arrives, reassess and budget for the term. If this isn’t for you, consider seasonal employment over Christmas, Easter and Summer, so you have money saved up to spend in the term.
The truth is that many of us will never be able to perfectly manage our money. I still haven’t properly learnt how to do it, and get carried away on nights out when I think I’m Cardiff’s answer to Rockefeller, whip out Apply Pay and subsequently spend the following 2 days avoiding my bank balance like the plague. It’s all about getting to grips with your own spending habits and learning what works for you. Good luck!