On Monday it was the turn of things to do regarding your money through uni. This time, let’s explore what you do not want to be doing. If you recognise any of this already, it’s never too late to make changes and hold your head up high. There’s no shame in having a problem that needs dealing with and there is a lot of support available. If none of this currently applies to you, it’s still best to bear it in mind so you stay on that path. It’s all too easy to slip down and make a mistake if you’re not careful. So what shouldn’t you do?
- Ignore a problem – When things go wrong, there’s a temptation to turn the other cheek. If you look away, the monsters will go away. We know that it’s bad advice, but it’s a temporary solution and it makes us feel better in the short term. Unfortunately, it makes us feel worse in the long term. We’re not thinking long term at the time though! But we have to deal with problems at one time or another, so it’s best to make that time the present. If you’re in trouble, admit it to yourself and give a bit of time to recovering from the situation. Ignoring it will simply allow the downfall to continue. Five minutes of peace with your head in the sand equals five hours of headaches later down the line. You must acknowledge the need to help yourself before you can be helped at all.
- Presume anything – If you’re uncertain about something involving your finances, ASK SOMEONE! You’re in the real world now and things tend to matter a lot more, whether you like it or not. If you have a query regarding a bill, a strange debt situation, a request for money that you don’t understand, or anything else that isn’t 100% absolute in your head, you need to question the issues. Sometimes it’s a quick question for your parents, or a housemate, and you just want the all clear on something trivial. At other times, you may need to involve your Student Services or equivalent. If it’s nothing to do with uni, you may have to speak to the party involved or ask your uni where you can turn for the advice you need.
- Spend on luxuries and anything you like – Okay, so you’ve probably already worked that out given my other ‘DO’ and ‘DON’T’ advice, but it’s worth mentioning explicitly, just in case! The less you care about the money now, the more problems you’re likely to end up with later. If you treat your finances well and realise that you don’t need all those amazing goodies just because you can, you’ve more chance in being more careful with your money in the future. Luxuries are only luxuries when you don’t have them anyway. Why spoil the effect by buying something when it can be a luxury forever…?
- Compete with friends – Just as some of us feel the need to keep up with the amounts we drink when we’re out, the same can be said with spending. Sometimes a feeling can hit you that makes you want to buy just as much as other friends. When one person makes an enviable purchase, you may feel more ‘need’ for it yourself than you ever did before. You may also crave the increased status that your friend might now have with other people. There are many reasons why you may want to increase your spending in line with another person, or a group of people, but it’s a bad move. We’re all in a different financial boat, but we hardly ever consider that. Just remember, if you can make that purchase without problem, then all’s well with the world. If it would cause a problem, then step back. Anyway, who cares what other people own? They’re only objects. You can get a lot more out of yourself than you can from an object…
- Treat debt like free money – Your student loan is exactly that. A loan. It’s a much better loan than one from a bank, but it’s still a loan. If you choose to spend it all so quickly on rubbish, you may have to take out another loan on a much worse deal and suffer a lot more debt. The money is lent to you to help get you through your time at uni, on accommodation, bills, fees, and so on. It might be the first large amount of money you’ve seen in your bank account before…the bank account itself may be a pretty recent occurence! However tempted you feel, it’s not an excuse to spend all the cash in one go.
- Use a car at uni (if living away from home) – You may need a car if you’re travelling to and from your house. But anyone living away from their parental home is usually within spitting distance of their campus, if not right on it (and please, no seeing how far you can spit…)! University is one place where cars really don’t matter. There is so much nearby, you’ll be spending most time on campus or in halls, it’s never a problem using public transport when you’re with loads of mates anyway, someone less bothered about their money can give you lifts in THEIR car, etc., etc. A car is a huge expense at any time of life. Might as well not bother with one while you have almost zero need for one (feel free to argue if you disagree, but it’ll take a very good argument to sway me!).
- Ignore the need to work – If we could all get through our degrees without doing any paid work on the side, I’m sure we’d all be ecstatic. However, it’s a reality for many now that some part-time work is needed to keep your finances in check. If you’re getting into difficulty, but you’re stubbornly choosing not to find a few hours of paid work each week, you’re doing yourself an injustice and you will consequently find the rest of your life getting you down. Of course, if you haven’t got into all the debt yourself, you can always ask for money from things like the Access to Learning Fund (ALF) or one of the other many sources of help. But if you’ve exhausted those possibilities, don’t put off the need to do a bit of work. It may be annoying, considering you’re already meant to be working at uni on your degree, but there are usually enough hours in the day, no matter how much you may disagree with that. Then again, if you read this and the various other articles I’ve mentioned in EduLinks over the weeks, I’m sure you’re working your way to a more productive lifestyle anyway!