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You are here: Features » Seriously, Where´s My Money?
Published 15th May 2012
By the time this goes to print, most of us will hopefully have a much prettier looking current account. That text from Student Finance England consisting of ten beautiful words creates a feeling of joy throughout the student community like no other: “Your student finance will be paid into your bank tomorrow”. Finally! I thought, rubbing my hands with glee. Now I can buy some new day shoes – unfortunately, I’d managed to leave all my shoes without holes at my permanent home over Easter, and getting soaking wet socks every time I ventured outside was becoming a drag. Saying that, I also need a new umbrella…and maybe some wellies. You know what? Why not treat yourself, Nicole - a new dress? Ooh, and finally I can get those festival tickets! Oh, I should put some aside for a last-minute holiday this summer too…
Before the money was even safely into my account, I’d made big plans for my incoming funds and went to bed with dreams of rolling around in scattered £20 notes. Clearly, I’d confused ‘student maintenance loan’ with ‘EuroMillions win’, because after I’d thought rationally and sectioned off the money I needed for rent and bills, I could just about afford to upgrade from Tesco Value products to their basic stores’ own brand. “How about your overdraft?” I'm asked. Yet, for someone who only receives enough to keep their landlady happy, the overdraft ship has long ago sailed.
So for me, the student loan joy only really lasted for more than a few hours back when I was a fresher without rent to pay over the summer. But while there are many students in a similarly annoying position to mine, I know that before long, a large percentage of us still end up wondering where their money has vanished to. So, here's a small collection of tips to remember that might help you hold onto your student loan for as long as possible.
The impulse to give yourself a little treat after receiving some money is incredibly common: ever noticed how many mini-sales and store promotions start at the end or the beginning of the month? It's no coincidence that it's so close to payday. I'm particularly partial to something I don't exactly need, but want – and then that spills over into having two drinks with dinner, instead of the usual half pint of coke (with no ice, thank you). And then, maybe a dessert? Oh, what the hell – two desserts! No. Stop. Set a limit, be that number of days or an amount of money, for a treat allowance...and then stop. By being greedy with self-gifting ourselves, we end up living like royalty for two weeks maximum, before spending the rest of the term literally counting the pennies.
Keep it old school
Paying with card is so convenient and easy, it's no surprise how many of us primarily rely upon this method of payment. However, it also causes us to neglect how much we're spending until the awkward moment where the cashier hands back your card saying “declined”. A tried and tested way to keep track of your money is by making a habit of physically withdrawing it from a cashpoint – maybe have a set amount for the week, and then stash your card at the back of your wardbrobe. Honestly, actually seeing cash leave your wallet makes you more aware of your expenditure.
Lists aren't boring!
Well, maybe for some, but it doesn't change how helpful they can be! Though this may seem incredibly obvious, and maybe a little patronising, making a list before you go food or even clothes shopping can end up saving a lot of money, as you'll only be getting what you planned, instead of returning with something random, like a blender – regardless of whether it was half price or not.
If you’re not aware of this phrase, count yourself lucky. Popularised by Canadian rapper Drake, it stands for ‘You Only Live Once’, a motto that has been adopted by hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, taken to live life as carefree as possible, without regret. It’s an inspiration to spend what we want and think about the consequences later. The major problem with this is that, unlike Drake, many of us aren’t also sitting on ‘twenty-five mill’ – in my case, it’s usually just about twenty-five pounds. The mentality that life is for doing whatever you want despite what Natwest/Santander/(insert your bank here) tells you just isn't compatible with the majority of students' lifestyles, so forget it!
Being rigid with money is something that's drilled into us from a young age, but if there's ever a time to listen to the logic of our grandparents, it's right now: the next time student loan comes in isn't until late September, so it's either time to tighten the purse strings, or buy a truckload of lottery tickets...