Going to university is kind of like losing your mum in Tesco for three years. When you’re dropped off at your accommodation and she drives away, it’s time for you to fly the nest and you start to realise the extent of all the things your parents would take care of. Before university, you probably never gave a thought to simple things like food shopping, keeping on time with bill payments or travel expenses.
Whilst being at university, and especially within the last year (my second year of study), my priorities have changed when it comes to what I spend my money on. While I don’t exactly deprive myself of a treat here and there, I’ve started to prioritise the food I need for the next week and what to set aside for the bus to work. I have learnt, and I’m still learning, how to save rather than splurge, which I know is what’s best for me but that doesn’t mean temptation isn’t everywhere – especially since I work in a shopping centre (which reminds me, if you’re just about to start university, it’s a good idea to consider a part-time job – a huge help when your loan isn’t as pretty as you had hoped and something to, of course, add to your CV).
Wants vs Needs
I’m now reflecting on my first year where, according to my mother, I should’ve “lived like a pauper”, which is code for not spending money on clothes and shoes I didn’t need. Well, I tried. Sort of. I get paid for my job on a fortnightly basis so there’s never too long of a wait. Each time I feel the buzz of having bought a new outfit, I think it’s totally fine as I get paid again soon. Working in retail, I see something I want whenever I’m on shift. But that’s the problem: the I want. Wanting is not the same as needing.
My goal right now is to save money for my final year to contribute towards my rent (and therefore stress less). The encouragement for me is that at the end of this degree that job with the good pay awaits – I just need to hobble over a few hurdles first. The more careful you are with money the better off you’ll be.
So, no Chloe, you can’t buy those Converses, or those clothes – not this payday at least. It never gets better hearing the debt you’ll have accumulated by the end of your studies, so making small and regular changes to spending habits stops more debt from creeping up (this can be as small as owing your flatmate £10, for example). Keeping track of what your necessities cost means there’s plenty more room for the ‘wants,’ so try to find a balance. Don’t think that you can never treat yourself.
If you want to add another pair of shoes to your collection of a hundred then so be it, just make sure that gas and electricity bill has been paid first. It’s never a bad idea to check for discounts everywhere you go and sometimes you may even find yourself comparing prices that are sure to benefit you in the future.
Wrapping it up
With technology constantly developing, we’re so close to having a cashless world – buying products has become so much easier with just a click of a button or tap of a card. Thankfully, my bank doesn’t think I’m ready for a contactless card yet. For that, I’d say I’m grateful just because I would think I had infinite money, but there is a limit to everything. Sometimes sleeping on a decision before you buy is the better choice, a few extra hours to consider whether you really need it now or if you can wait just a little longer.
University has definitely taught me about taking responsibility for myself whilst I enjoy the independence. The way I am with money now can set me up for the future. The present ‘you’ can help the future ‘you’ (wise words of Blackbullion!).
Let’s just say university is teaching me to become more ‘adult’, that’s for sure.
Chloe is just starting her third year of a Journalism & Creative Writing course at the University of Hertfordshire. You can find her on twitter @_ohheyitschlo.