Beating the mid-term money blues!

Five spending situations to avoidIt’s now mid-way through the first term, and although we hope that you are having a fantastic time studying with us in Northampton, it’s often around this time when students start to have problems managing their money.

If you have any money worries, don’t panic – here’s a guide about what to do next to beat the mid-term money blues!

Prioritise what you have left

Most spending can be defined as either ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’. Essential spending will keep a roof over your head (i.e. rent/ mortgage, utility bills), fed, and attending University (i.e. travel, childcare if you’re a student parent). Desirable spending is everything else: clothes, mobile phone, socialising, gym membership, coffees at University, Christmas/ birthday presents, etc.

To manage your money well, you need to total up what your essential costs are likely to be until the date you’ll receive your next instalment of funding, and then compare this against how much money you have left.

If you can afford the essentials/ bills, then see if there is any money left over for desirables.

If you don’t have enough money for the essentials, or you think you might struggle, you now need to look at ways to stretch your money further: negotiate payments, increase your income, and cut back on your spending.

Can you negotiate any payments?

Depending upon what you owe, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan. For example, if you have a large bill which you cannot pay in full, the provider might agree to a payment plan instead. Be aware that not all of your creditors may agree to this, and you may still accrue interest or charges. If you owe money to friends or family, discuss with them whether they can wait a little longer to be repaid. Can you pay them back in instalments instead?

If you do make any payment plans, make sure you stick to them!

Increase your income

One of the best ways to improve your bank balance is to find part-time work; with Christmas round the corner, there are currently plenty of opportunities– contact Unitemps to find out more. See our How to increase your income post and Save the Student for further tips on making money.

Cut back on your spending

Spending money is unavoidable, but there are always ways in which you can cut back. Instead of buying food on campus, bring in a packed lunch and a reusable water bottle. Instead of driving, use your student card for a bus discount – or walk. Swap nights out for nights in – bring and share food and drink with your friends instead. Keep an eye out for anything free – such as hot drinks or lunches at the Multi-faith Centre, and look into clubs and societies at the Students Union. For further ideas, see our Make small changes to save money!, Mend your spending habits!, and Minimising expenditure posts, or Save the Student.

Be careful if you need to borrow

Students are often offered credit – which can be useful if you’re running out of money. The best option is usually an interest-free overdraft. To find out more, see our Good and bad credit post.

Don’t be blind-sided by Christmas!

It’s easy to be swayed by the Christmas spirit, but remember that it’s just one day a year – and you will also need to pay for rent, food and bills as usual. See our How to have a thrifty Christmas post or Money Saving Expert for inspiration on how to enjoy Christmas without breaking the bank.

Apply for additional funding from the University

If you’re struggling financially, you may be eligible to apply for additional funding such as the Financial Assistance Fund or EU Hardship Fund (eligibility criteria apply) – if you’re offered an award, you usually won’t be expected to pay it back.

Ask for help if you’re worried

Whether you’re worried about money or you have other concerns, help is available from Student Information Desk, Student Support and Advice team and/ or Students Union if you feel things are getting on top of you. If you would like further guidance on money matters, you can contact us through this blog or by email, phone, or come to a Drop-in.

We hope you find these ideas useful; if you have any budgeting tips that worked for you, let us know and we may feature them on our blog.