Worried about money? Here’s what you can do about it.
As a student, you can be thrown into the world of budgeting and bills and it can be hard to wrap your head around. With most students not receiving a big enough student loan to cover their monthly living expenses as well as their rent, it’s not unusual to worry about money.
Money can be a really stressful thing to have to think about, especially if you have rent or bills overdue and you’re not sure where to get the money from. Also, sometimes it’s not as easy as budgeting if you don’t have the money that’s going to stretch to cover everything you need.
It’s normal and natural to have money worries while you’re at university and here are some of the things that you can do to help reduce the stress and make things better.
Money stress and mental health
Money worries can have a big toll on your mental health. Unfortunately, worrying about money is something that will happen to most people at some point in life, especially students.
Stressing about money can be a very anxiety inducing time and it can be scary and overwhelming reading bills or emails about money that is due.
Your mental health is important, so by following some of these tips hopefully you can make things a bit better and feel less overwhelmed and stressed by your finances.
If your mental health has really taken a toll and money is a leading contributor, it’s always best to seek professional help from a counsellor or GP to tell them how you’re feeling. It’s important to talk about your mental health and not let things bottle up, no matter how hard things are getting.
What to do if you’re worried about money
1. Make a plan
Firstly, if you’re having money worries you need to face your fears and take a good look at your spending. Collect together all your recent receipts, bank statements and bills and try and work out how much money you really need to be spending each week.
Highlight important payment dates such as rent and bills (if they’re not set up as direct debits) as reminders in your phone or calendar so you won’t forget them, as if you miss payments they can build up.
Work out how much money you’re going to need to pay for various things and the date that you’ll need it for, and try to stay on track of when your bills are due.
2. Make your money go further
If you’re running out of money for the necessities (rent, bills etc) look where you can make changes with how you’re spending your money. While everyone needs to do a regular food shop, see if there are changes that you could make to help you cut back some cash on your shopping.
Switching to a cheaper supermarket such as Lidl or Aldi could help to make your food shopping cheaper overall, or you could just start buying unbranded products as opposed to branded which are often over double the price.
Making other changes could also be how often you order takeaways or go out for meals, any regular and expensive beauty treatments like visiting hair and nail salons, or how often you go to clubs and how much you’re spending on nights out.
As great as all of these things are, if you’re struggling to pay for your rent or bills, you’ll probably have to make a few cut backs here and there.
3. Look for additional sources of income
If you can’t make your money go further there are plenty of ways that students could earn some extra cash while in university.
If you don’t have or can’t find a part-time job, try side-hustles such as selling on Depop or eBay, tutoring younger students, dog walking or selling your old textbooks to get some cash quickly.
4. Look for additional funding
There are lots of grants and bursaries (which are like a loan, except you don’t need to pay them back) out there for students, which you may be eligible for and may not know about. Do your research on this, but also reach out to someone within your university’s welfare team to ask for help, as they might be able to give you a clearer answer and help you to apply for them.
One thing you can apply for is the university student hardship fund. This means that you could be eligible for extra money from your university if you’re experiencing financial hardship. There is a certain criteria for this that you’ll need to fit, for example, being a single-parent, coming from a low-income family, being a mature student or if you’re disabled.
You could also be considered for additional funding if you have mental health problems that prevent you from working and getting a part-time job.
The fund amount will be decided by your university and is paid in either a lump sum or instalments throughout the year, and most of the time you won’t have to pay it back.
5. Tell someone
Lastly, if you’re having money problems, don’t keep this to yourself! Money worries can have a lasting effect on your mental health and if you’re struggling, don’t struggle in silence. Whether you’re confiding in a friend or a professional, a problem shared is a problem halved and telling someone how you’re feeling can be a massive weight off of your shoulders.
If your money worries are affecting your mental health, reach out to your university’s welfare team and have a chat with them as they’ll be able to give you the correct guidance and support you need. Remember, the welfare team is there to help you out and they would’ve had plenty of other students in the past come to them with similar worries, so you’re never alone.
For more money help check out the average student budget per month, how to make your money go further, and the best side-hustles to help you earn some extra cash while you’re studying.