Money may not buy happiness – as the old saying goes – but it can have a huge impact on your wellbeing. So if you are having financial problems, this can have a negative effect on all aspects of your life and study, including your health.
This is because having money worries or debt issues can increase stress and anxiety; you might then lose motivation to study and start missing classes. You might start to spend more in a self-destructive cycle to try to make yourself feel better. Students who already have a mental health condition may find that fluctuating moods combined with stress can often make managing finances more difficult.
Having money problems and/ or mental health concerns are both subjects which people don’t tend to openly talk about, and so many students find it difficult to admit they are having problems and also worry about being stigmatised.
What should I do if I have problems with money?
There are practical steps you can take to gain control and help yourself.
Firstly, look at what money you have coming in (your income) and compare it with what you have going out (your expenditure). Use these figures to create a budget; see our blogpost ‘How do I budget, and why do I need one?’ for further guidance. Tools such as UCAS budget calculator are helpful here.
Your money needs to cover your essential living costs: food, a home and utilities. As a student, you will also need to budget for course-related costs such as books, computer equipment, internet/ phone, childcare (if relevant), and travel to university. Ideally, your budget should also take account of additional non-essential spending such as socialising, and if possible some savings for emergencies.
If your budget puts you in the red, it’s time to look at ways to increase your income and reduce your spending:
- Check out our blogposts ‘Make small changes to save money’, ‘Mend your spending habits!’ and ‘Top 5 good money habits to start‘ for tips and links
- Apply for the Financial Assistance Fund/ EU Hardship Fund
- Look for a job – see ‘Should I find part-time work?’ for inspiration
- Speak to your bank about taking out or extending an overdraft
Where can I get help?
There are free, confidential services based at the university and outside which can offer help and support if you are struggling with your finances and/ or your mental health
- Speak to us (the Financial Guidance team)
- Contact the Counselling & Mental health team and/ or see their Wellbeing blog for information and resources
- The Money Advice Service offers free and impartial money advice
Don’t be afraid to ask for help; the quicker you acknowledge the problem and start to take steps, the easier it may be to find a solution.
Do you have any good tips or guidance about managing money? Let us know and we’ll feature the best ones on this blog.