All things budgeting…

Hello all, I hope you’ve had a good week so far!

One of the things that I’ve had a love-hate relationship with since arriving at Edge Hill in September is money and budgeting. Many students find that this is the first time they are completely reliant on their money source without the help of family- this was definitely the case for me. I had a regular income from local paper rounds, but I didn’t have to pay for my meals whilst at home and I didn’t have rent to pay, which all changed when I arrived.

Now, it might worry some people that they have so much responsibility, but if you breathe and plan out what money you have, you’ll be ok! So, I thought that I’d give you some of the tips I’ve picked up over the past 5 months or so, some I’ve had in my mind since September and some I’ve figured out from making mistakes along the way (something we all do, don’t worry!):

  • Get that calculator out: Once you know how much money you have for each semester, and once you know how much rent you need to be paying (if you’re in halls or renting elsewhere), work out exactly how much money you have a week to spend on food and recreational activities. This makes it a lot easier to make sure you’re spending the right amount of money each week, just don’t get tempted to go over budget!
  • Don’t pay for everything on your card: One of the mistakes I’ve learned from over the past few months… If you’re paying for everything on your card, because transactions take a while to come through with some banks and because it’s easier to forget exactly what you’ve spent that week. I fell into a loop hole of forgetting what I’ve spent, and it just made things harder in November and December. It’s stress that’s easily avoidable by drawing out your week’s money from the bank and only using that money. Physically holding your budget makes you think more about how much you have left to spend and stops people like me who see things they like and think “I need that now!!!”
  • Take every week as they come: Although you might have a set out budget, some weeks you might have a very busy week, and others might be very quiet. This means that you might spend more some weeks than others, and if you go over budget on one week by a little bit, don’t kick yourself about it, because you’ll have weeks when you have spare money! Just don’t get into a habit where you overspend for loads of weeks at a time- take some weeks out to do something that’s either cost free or doesn’t eat away at your budget! And yes, this is especially important when it comes to partying…

So, as long as you are sensible with your spending and keep in mind what exactly your budget is, you’ll be fine! There’s always help available at the University if you do need it, which takes a lot of weight off your shoulders (click this link if you want to read about just what the University offers and some more tips).

If you are wanting to apply for a Student loan, remember to keep checking the website to see when applications begin and get it in on time!

Below I will link some of the past blogs by other students on budgeting, but for now, I hope you have a lovely weekend!

 

Here’s what Ellie Clarke had to say: https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/insideedge/2016/08/28/budgeting-2/

Here’s what Beth Rhodes had to say: https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/insideedge/2016/07/24/living-on-a-budget/

Here’s what James Hubbard had to say: https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/insideedge/2016/02/02/budgeting-student-finance-how-much-will-it-cost/

Real housemates of Ormskirk

One of the most important transitions you make whilst at university is the transition from halls (or home) into a student house. For me this is transition is terrifying, am I even old enough to be renting an actual house?

There is a wide range of student accommodation both in Ormskirk and in Liverpool. When looking for a house for second or third year one of the first and most important things to do is to decide who you wish to live with. Often this will be people from your current accommodation, friends from your course or other people you know from university. My advice would be to really consider who you wish to live with as once you have signed for a property you will be living with these people for at least a year, so take time to ensure you know the people you’re living with thoroughly. The next step once you’ve decided who to live with is to look for housing suitable for that number of people. Many people focus their search by looking for a certain number of bedrooms in a property in local estate agents. Although this is important you should also consider other factors such as the size of the kitchen, if it is furnished and how many bathrooms the property has. You can view as many properties as you wish and I would recommend that you do so, you can begin to compare the properties you have seen and decide what will work best for you and your future housemates. There is often the perception that you should rush and go for the first property but this is not the case. As well as liking a property it is important that you work out whether or not it is financially viable for you and if you could maintain the costs as well as allowing yourself money to live from.

To help with any worries during the process of finding a house the university runs housing week in December. During housing week there are workshops that help with advice when finding a house, people are there to answer your questions and the off campus housing list also gets released. The off campus housing list is a list created by the university of landlords that are approved. The list is helpful as it puts all the houses in one place alongside descriptions and contact numbers making it much easier for you.

https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/studentservices/accommodation/housing-week/

This link provides much more information on what the university offers in terms of advice on finding a house and can help with things such as:

  • budgeting
  • deposits and insurance
  • paying bills

The university have also created a helpful guide to take with you when viewing properties so that you know exactly what to look for this can be found here:

https://issuu.com/edgehillsu/docs/housing_checklist_leaflet

Overall finding a house should be a fun experience and the university has a lot on offer in order to make this as stress free as possible. Take as much advice as you can get, take your time making a decision and ensure that you are completely happy before you sign up to something.

 

To work or not to work?

Following on from Emma’s blog about saving money and budgeting during university, a great way to help with finances and give you a little extra money is to look at getting a part-time job. Not only is this a great opportunity to earn money but also help to boost your CV and help you stand out from the crowd in future job applications.

The University is excellent in advertising jobs for students in Ormskirk and around the Liverpool area. The best place to start when looking for jobs is the Edge Hill Works twitter page https://twitter.com/ehuworks that provides constant updates on local job opportunities as well as advice when applying or looking for work. If you are a student at Edge Hill there are also a range of student jobs that can be applied for. These are varied and include things such as student assistants who live in halls and provide advice and guidance to first year students, admissions advocates who are there to answer questions on applicant and interview days and jobs showing your accommodation on open days. The jobs offered at the University are in my opinion are better if you are living on campus as they are closer and they are also more flexible to your university timetable with many being on an ‘as and when’ basis. It is important when getting a part-time job you consider the commitment you are making. It is probably best to wait until you are a few weeks into your timetable to decide what would be manageable alongside your university workload as you don’t want to be in a position where you take on too much and begin to struggle or fall behind.

During my time at University I have tried many of the jobs offered for students. Due to their flexibility I was able to commit to 2 or 3 jobs and work when I needed to. As well as being beneficial in giving me that little bit of extra money to spend, going through the application and interview process keeps those professional skills fresh and increases confidence for the future.

Before applying for a job though it is important that you have an up to date CV that will allow you to increase your potential and show off to your future employer. At Edge Hill there is a lot of opportunity to develop your CV and the careers centre run workshops to help you understand how to make it outstanding. As well as this they also run a service where you can send in your CV to be checked. This can help if you are applying for jobs and don’t feel as though you are getting anywhere, they may be able to identify areas of weakness in your CV or covering letter.

There are some basic tips and advice for creating a quality CV here: https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/careers/students/international-students/writing-a-uk-cv/

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/cvs-and-cover-letters/how-to-write-a-cv

As well as part-time work, volunteering can also be a great opportunity to develop confidence and add to professional development. Some courses such as teaching require experience and volunteering is often one of the only ways to secure this. Volunteering is often easy to find in the local area as people are often grateful for your interest and dedication. If you have little previous work experience and this is a barrier to getting a job volunteering can provide you with the experience required to help you progress. As well as opportunities in the local area there are so many volunteering opportunities abroad that can be very rewarding. Companies such as Camp America, Camp Thailand and Camps International offer schemes that allow for students to travel abroad to work. These companies frequently come to the university to try and recruit students and are often very popular. Often though if you research a place that you are interested in visiting you will find many opportunities for volunteering and can begin to plan your own travel. If you are doing this though I’d strongly advise checking the legitimacy of the work and any requirements for working in another country. One of the benefits to going with a company is that these factors are sorted out for you as part of a package.

To help in finding opportunities such as those mentioned above the university runs a career fair where you can find out and speak to the people behind the companies. The job fair gives you inspiration and can really open doors to your future by introducing you to things you may never have thought to apply for.

 

Money, money, money…

One of the biggest worries people have when coming to university is about whether they can afford it. However, most people are able to access money from the government to help out with the costs of being a student.

If you currently live in England, you can access the Student Finance Calculator, which will give you an indicator of how much money you might receive when you go to university.

Check out the links below if you don’t currently live in England:

So, what are the big costs of going to university?

The largest for me was and is accommodationThis took up a large bulk of the money I received from student finance, particularly as, during my first year, I had picked an ensuite room to live in. This was important to me in my first year, as I didn’t really know anyone I’d be living with, and I was concerned about cleaning the bathroom myself. However, in halls, a cleaner cleans shared bathrooms and the communal areas every week day, whereas I had to clean my bathroom! This year, I’m living in a house with a shared bathroom, and it really isn’t as bad as I had first imagined when applying for accommodation – even though we have to clean the bathroom.

You might be commuting instead of living on or around campus, but it’s just as important to research the different ways of getting to university. It might be that the bus is cheaper, but takes longer, so you have to consider what works for you in the long run. Is that extra half an hour in bed more important than being able to pay for your weekly coffee?

The next most important thing on my list of costs is food. I’ve known people not blink and spend £60 on a weekly shop, then wonder how they’re going to afford to eat for the rest of the term. It is so, so important to budget. The way that I do it is to divide how much I have (once I’ve taken out the cost of accommodation) to spend by how many weeks there are in that semester (eg £140 in a 7 week semester would be £20 a week).

I then shop around. In Ormskirk, there is an Aldi, an Iceland, and a Morrison’s, but other big shops will deliver too. Tesco currently have the ‘Click and Collect’ option, where they bring deliveries to campus on a specific day of the week for students to pick up. Personally, I prefer Aldi, as it is cheaper, but if I’m particularly busy with assignments that week and I know I can’t get to the shops, I might do a big order online that will keep me going for a few weeks.

It’s easy to forget to eat healthily when you’re a student too, especially if you don’t like cooking, or if you don’t go shopping very often. At the moment, there’s a fruit and veg store on a Wednesday that is run in the hub, which has really good prices. So, even if you’ve decided to go another week without doing a shop and don’t have anything fresh, you can always pick something up once a week in the hub.

The next big cost most students incur is nights out. Now, I don’t really spend a lot on nights out, but my friends and I do enjoy takeaway every now and again. It’s important to include these in your budget when you’re planning how much you can spend a week too. If that means deciding if you’d rather go out every night of the week and spend only £5 a night, or once a week and spend £35, it has to be done.

Remember, budgeting is your best friend.

This Christmas…

Christmas is just around the fairy light lit corner so you know what that means: it’s finally time to go home again. For many people this wouldn’t be a very big deal, however, I live over 4 hours away,  so it’ll be a miracle if my family recognise me!
But joking aside before you head off home there are a few things you might wanna consider doing before you head on back home.

Throw away food you’re not gonna eat. This is something everyone forgets, which is understandable.  You’re rushing around, cramming everything into a small suitcase, and thinking of whether you’ve left your charger or not. Remembering to throw away that chicken you had a couple days ago isn’t your number one priority. However, if you do it the night before, it’s one less thing to think about and doesn’t leave an unwanted present in your fridge for you to come back to.

Legit this.

Speaking of leaving packing to the last minute: don’t do it. Not worth the stress just so you can watch another episode of a series on Netflix (been there done that, unfortunately ). The way forward I found is lists, yes, it’s as simple and straightforward as that. As boring as it may seem, this will save your sanity, an idea of the size of suitcase you’ll need and gives you time to gather everything together in time. This is especially important if you’re from a big family (like me), as you’ll know about it later if you forget someone’s gift!

Now onto something you might think is a bit weird: clean your room before you go. This may seem a bit weird,  as there’s a student mindset, of rushing around, grabbing everything and leaving your flat as soon as you can, leaving your room messy for you to clean when you get back. But that means when you come back over Christmas, you’re not going to be greeted to a nice warm room, instead, you’re gonna come home to more work to do. Be kind to your future self, do it now, as it’s exciting to go home, but you’ve got to remember that you’ve got to come back at some point. Additionally, if you’re running out of shampoo and conditioner, buy it now, as then you don’t have to go straight to the shops when you get back. Make life easier for future you.

The library itself.     

Self Explanatory but make sure you take your books back to the library. As the library tries to renew them, but they can’t if someone requests them. So save yourself the hassle by dropping them off beforehand. Additionally, if you’re doing an essay over the Christmas season, get the books out beforehand, find the quotes you want, then give them back in time, simple.  

 

Finally and most importantly, Travel. Unless you’re driving home for Christmas, or being picked up by your parents, you’ll be left with two options bus or train. I for one take trains frequently, so have plenty of advice on the matter and how to get cheaper tickets, as well as other handy tips and tricks.

  1. Always try to get your tickets in advance, months in advance if you can, as the further away the date is, the cheaper the ticket usually is, which can save you up to £40, and even more in some cases! It may be too late now for this Christmas trip, however, there’s always next time.
  2. There are different ways of having your tickets if you pay in advance, which for some may seem obvious, but honestly, I never knew of these until I started travelling. The first opinion is having your tickets posted to you. The second is paying online and collecting them at your local train station. And finally with certain ticket providers such as The Trainline you can have your ticket digitally using their app.   
  3. Plan, plan, plan. This is very important if you live four train journeys away, such as myself.  I would highly recommend writing a schedule of all your train times, what stations you’ll be coming and going to, platform numbers (and where they are in the station), and finally how long you’ll be waiting for your next train (sometimes every second counts!) This means you can plan your time at the stations as well e.g bathroom breaks, popping to the shop, etc . Which makes the trip a whole less stressful than it needs to be.
  4. Lastly, think of what you can realistically carry with you, you might have to leave the kitchen sink behind if you have too much luggage already.

I hope you found this blog post at least a little bit helpful and that you all have an amazing festive season. As for me I recently went to see Moana, which I highly recommend!

Film/Show of the day: Moana (2016)

Living on a Budget

Money matters, at the end of the day it’s the whole reason why you’re going to uni; to widen your horizons and open up career opportunities! Hopefully you’ve chosen a course you are interested in which will definitely motivate you throughout the next three years until you reap your rewards with your first paycheck!

However unfortunately for now… living on a budget may be different to what you’ve experienced before living at home. It can be a sharp learning curve but you’ll soon become accustomed to how much money you have and how you’re going to distribute it i.e. on food and going out.

After the first few months you may find that your student loan isn’t as big as you originally thought after your rent money for your accommodation has come out. But don’t worry, you won’t be the only one that will sometimes have to pass on nights out now and then. However this isn’t the end of the world, if you’re lucky enough to have parents that are financially able to help- GREAT! You’re one of the lucky ones, however if not there are plenty of job opportunities around uni and Ormskirk that you can venture into.

There is a fine line between being able to maintain your studies and a job, you need to make sure that your priorities are correct, that being your course that will determine your future and that you are spending A LOT of money on! Don’t waste your time and have any regrets!

Good luck, if you can get get a summer job and get saving before you come to Uni if you can- you certainly won’t regret it!

Jobs whilst you’re at uni

So summer is coming, what are you going to do!? Chill hopefully, and enjoy a summer with no work! However if you are like the many students that scrimp and save money you may be thinking about getting a summer job or a part-time job for when you get to uni!

You may feel like you’ll be the only one out of your friends to have a job, but don’t worry that will definitely not be the case! Plus, it’s totally worth it when you get your wage at the end of the month, that money you get will be your bread and butter….. Literally!

Plus the social side of working is brilliant to meet people of all ages from all aspects of life.

So if you’re wanting to get a job in Ormskirk I’d highly recommend you’re ready with your CV before you come so you can drop them off in shops/pubs, as they tend to advertise vacancies in their shop windows or you can submit them online. At the beginning of the year there seem to be lots of vacancies so you will hopefully be spoilt for choice!

The whole concept of having a job throughout uni will also look great to prospective employers as it shows you can successfully juggle your responsibilities and studies… Therefore your time management skills will definitely be up to scratch!

Anyway, good luck!!

Money Talks

Hi everyone!

Hope you’re all enjoying the official summertime. Unfortunately the rain has decided to chase the sun away at home, and I’m really missing all the sunshine. However, I hope the weather is treating you well.

This week I’m doing a quick post to let you know about extra funding you might be entitled to while at uni. This includes bursaries and scholarships available to students, so listen up!

It’s always good to know if you can get a little extra help with your finance.

Your main source of funding will obviously come from Student Finance, which if you’re coming to uni next year you’ve gone through the application for. You have to reapply for your student loan each year (but it gets easier the second time around – I swear!)

However, a lot of universities offer scholarships, both academic and non-academic.

From sports scholarships that aim to enhance and support your sporting talent, to the Adam Bell scholarship that honours students who help out the university community in a significant way, there are many ways to have your individual talents rewarded.

For a full list of the scholarships available for students at Edge Hill go have a look here.

Currently Edge Hill also has bursaries available for prospective students, including a bursary that rewards high achievers for outstanding grades in their A level or BTEC courses.

The best thing about these scholarships is that they contribute to aiding your learning, whether that’s in the classroom or on the football pitch!

I’d urge you to check out some of these, you never know what scholarships you may be eligible for, and they can really make a huge difference to you during the course of your degree.

Quote for the day: “The longer you’re not taking action the more money you’re losing.” -Carrie Wilkerson.

Hope you all have a great week!

Until next time 🙂

I Can’t Afford a Ferrari

Hi everyone!

Hope you’re all having another good week and enjoying the little taste of summer we seem to be having at the moment.

This week I’m going to talk to you about student finance, money and budgeting. Scary as it all is, handling your own money is a huge part of the university experience.

This was probably the thing I freaked out about the most when I left for uni, but as long as you do a little preparation then there’s nothing to worry about.

Most of you have probably finished your student finance applications and received your confirmation letters, so you’ll know exactly how much you’ll have to support yourself next year.

I’ve just reapplied for student finance this week too (it’s much easier the second time around I swear!) Since I’ll be moving from halls into a student house I’m going to have to re-plan my budget a little bit, and I thought I would give you all a few tips too.

As soon as I received my student finance letter I worked out how much money I would have for each week, and when I got to uni I made sure I never went over that amount. Depending on which halls you live in/ if you live at home then you might have more student finance left over after housing payments.

The main tip when it comes to budgeting is to remember everything you will need. Include money for books and academic resources, your weekly food shop, toiletries and travel money.

It’s also nice to put aside a little bit of your weekly allowance so that you can treat yourself every once in a while. I put aside a few pounds a week and then treat myself to Domino’s whenever I hand in a particularly tough assignment for example.

Another major tip is to not splurge your student loan as soon as it comes in. It may seem like a lot of money but it’s better to be careful. If you have a budget plan and stick to it then it gives you peace of mind.

I spend a lot of time searching for better deals too. My weekly shop might change depending on which supermarkets are doing special promotions. Hunting around on the web for cheaper course books is always a good idea too- you can pretty much always get them cheaper than you think.

Managing your money is nothing to worry about, as long as you manage it sensibly then everything will run super smoothly.

Quote for the day: There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means. -Calvin Coolidge.

Hope you all enjoy the rest of your day. Until next time!

Becki 🙂

Applying for Student Finance Top Tips

As I’m sure you are aware Student Finance England is the organisation that most students apply for in order to help pay their way through university, and will help to pay for things like your tuition and living costs. However, I know that there are plenty of people out there who end up applying for finance very late on and often have issues trying to get the application complete before they start in September, so I would strongly recommend trying to get it sorted out as soon as possible so you can concentrate your time onto other things!
There are 4 stages to the application, and it does take a little bit longer to gather information and fill in details than you may initially think so make sure you are prepared early! The stages go as follows:

1. Registration
When you register you’ll be given a unique Customer Reference Number and be asked to create a password and secret answer. Keep these safe as you’ll need them to log into your account to check the progress of your application and re-apply for student finance next year.

2. Before you start your online application, you should have the following to hand:

  • your valid UK passport, if you have one;
  • your university and course details;
  • your bank account details;
  • your National Insurance number.

If you want to apply for finance that depends on your household income, they will ask your parents or partner to give us information about their household income and their National Insurance number. This is the bit that could take a little more time than you might think so make sure you have all this to hand before you start!!

3.Evidence
Not always but sometimes student finance will ask you to provide evidence of your house hold income, so this could include your parents p60 form to show what they earn for the last financial year, so make sure you ask them in advance to have a look for it just incase!

4.Declaration form:
Finally you will be asked to print and send of a signed declaration form which will need to be processed before student finance can pay you so don’t forget to do that!!

If circumstances change and you need to change your application, this can also be done and you can find out more information about that : Here 

I really hope this post is helpful, I had lots of trouble trying to get my application sorted in time so I was highly recommend trying to sort it out early!