Preparing to Leave Home

Hi everyone, for my second blog I’m just going to talk a little about moving out of home for the first time and going to University, and what you can do to prepare to make the transition more manageable, enjoyable and hopefully A lot less stressful!

1. Pack early: I know this might seem obvious but starting your packing even a week before leaving home is a really good idea, trust me. You don’t realise until it comes to packing how much stuff you need to bring with you, clothes, gadgets, trinkets and whatever else begin to pile up really quickly. In my personal experience even though I had done most of my packing by the time I was ready to leave, I still found myself running around like a headless chicken looking for my headphones and whatever else I realised I would definitely need.

Bag

2. Book travel well in advance: Doing this not only saves a lot of stress but also a lot of money. Obviously depending on where you live or your travel situation circumstances will be different but if you know you will be travelling by train or boat or plane, booking earlier can save you a lot of hassle that can be caused by booked up journeys or lack of luggage, space say if you were going on a busy flight and needed cabin baggage. In my experience if you book for example, A flight a month beforehand which in my case was coming over from Northern Ireland, an early booked flight would only usually cost £10/20 but leave it too close to the date and you could end up paying more like £50/60 which is a LOT more if you’re a budgeting student.

Plane

3. Don’t worry if your late: I know you definitely want to arrive on time for your moving in day and you most likely will, but on the off-chance you don’t (like me) don’t stress, Edge Hill is very accommodating and even though I was one of the last people to pick up my keys, someone still took the time to show me to my accommodation where I finally arrived to meet my flatmates for the first time, which didn’t make any difference that I was late as everyone was also still pretty nervous! Moral of the story, chill out it will be fine :).

Money Tips

Hey all, I hope you’re doing well!

One of the things that can be difficult to manage as a student is money. For many students, it’s the first time they’ve had a lot of money responsibility, especially if you decide to live in Halls away from your family and haven’t gotten as much money to budget as Student Finance can give you. So, I thought I’d give you some tips from my own personal experience, so that it’s a little easier for you:

  • 1- If you’re going to spend money, take money out rather than using your card: It sounds like a simple tip and sometimes it can be unavoidable, but budgeting is a lot easier if you know exactly what money you’re spending, as some banks sometimes take a while to show transactions, so it can slip you up quite easily.
  • 2- Do regular budget checks: Sometimes things will come up and you might buy something or go on a night out and spend some money you hadn’t originally budgeted for, so it’s always good to go back over your budget at least monthly to make sure things are in check.
  • 3- Always leave some money to the side: It’s easy to budget and think that it’s a rock solid budget that you don’t need a fall back for, but it’s always good to have a bit of extra money, even if it just ends up being put towards going to see a film or going to a theme park later on.
  • 4- Jobs are scary but good: Dependent on your life experiences so far, you may or may not have had a professional job before. It’s ok if you hadn’t, I hadn’t, but it can be worrying when you’re looking for one. It’s good to get one to help out with your money though, it’s always nice to have something as well as Student Finance.
  • 5- Make sure you have your rent: Your rent is something that you need to make sure you prioritise. It’s easy to just think ‘oh my student finance will cover it when it comes through’ but you need to make sure you’ll have the money there when you need it without stress.

So, there’s a few things I’ve learnt to bare in mind when it comes to money. I hope some of these tips help you out.

Budgeting as a student

Being able to budget and plan your money is incredibly important as a student. It may be your first time receiving money where you have specific things you’ve got to pay for such as rent, food, sports memberships as well as the extras such as going out with friends wherever that may be to.

You should start by working out how much money you have coming in. This could be through Student Finance or from a part-time job that you are currently working. You should then make a list of all essential outgoings such as rent, bills, travel costs, course materials, food, toiletries, clothes and insurance as well as any extra study expenses which are expected for your course.

The next step is to work out how much you can afford to spend on each of these areas. Remember to save some money for optional extras such as entertainment as well as unexpected expenses and future savings. There are also often bigger occasions to save for such as holidays, Christmas and birthdays.

You should then look for ways to make savings. This could include buying your food from a cheaper supermarket or bulk buying certain items with the other people you are living with. You could also try having no spend days which can help keep your costs down considerably. If you are paying bills, take a look to see if there is a cheaper provider for the services you are receiving. Student discounts such as student rail cards, bus passes and the NUS card can also help you to save a little extra.

Finally, you should always keep track of what you are spending and review this regularly. This will help you to know whether you can afford to make certain luxury purchases or whether you should wait. You could keep a list or use an app or programme such as Blackbullion.

If you aren’t currently working but need a little extra money, you should consider a part-time job. The careers centre at Edge Hill are incredibly friendly and helpful and can check over your application or CV to help you get a job which is suited to the skills and experience you already have. Working whilst at university helps to improve your skills such as time management and communication and can also be a great way to network with other professionals in the area you hope to study in after you graduate. The money advice team at Edge Hill are always happy to help with any questions you may have about budgeting or funding.

Food Shop – Budgeting Your Money

For a lot of people, one of the biggest worries about coming to uni is money. Will I have enough of it? What happens if I spend too much in freshers week? How does paying for my accommodation work? All of these are things I worried about before arriving at Edge Hill, so I’m here to pass on some knowledge I’ve learnt in my time here.

Firstly, if you’re worried about spending too much of your loan before your accommodation payment comes out, you can arrange with the accommodation team to take the payment out as soon as it comes in, so you can’t be tempted to spend too much too soon!

Another way I learnt to keep track of my spending was to budget my weekly food shop. I was lucky enough to have parents that sent me £30 a week for this purpose, as my maintenance loan minus my accommodation fee wouldn’t allow for this.

£30 may not sound like a lot, but with some careful planning and shopping around, (as we’re lucky enough to have multiple supermarkets in Ormskirk)  I found out that it was plenty to keep me fed for a week, and I often even had a little left over for a treat or two.

Here is a basic break down of a generic weekly shop for me:

Aldi: I would usually use Aldi as a starting point, as it has lots of different food bits that I could pick up, such as sauces and salad kits, which I could then add to from Morrison’s.

Potatoes: £1. Sweet Potatoes: £1. Stir Fry Kit: £2.50. Instant Noodles (x3): £1.20. Cheese: £1.90. Apples: £1.30 Pasta Bake Sauce: 65p. Crisps: £1. Sweet and Sour Sauce: 85p. Spread: £1.90. Ham: £1.45.

Added together this cost me £14.75, about half of my weekly budget, and I now have the main elements of evening meals and lunch.

Morrison’s: I know would use Morrison’s to add to the dishes, and pick up any extra bargains I could see, as Morrison’s often have clearance areas, and these are great for finding meat, cheese and other treats.

Steak: £2.50. Chicken and Pork: 2 for £5 offer. Part baked baguettes (x2 packs): 90p. Pasta: £1. Pineapple: £1. Ice Cream: £1.50. Squash: £1. Milk: £1. Cereal Bars: £1.

Added together this comes to £14.90, giving an overall total of £29.65, keeping just under budget. Some weeks, this would be considerably less, as I wouldn’t need some items every week, such as the packs of meat, squash, and spread, leaving me some money left over for the occasional takeaway of fast food trip.

Hopefully this has helped some people, or at least given you an idea of what to expect when you come to do your very first food shop for yourself!

Job opportunities galore

Hey all, hope you’re having a great weekend so far.

I wanted to make a post on the many job opportunities in and around Edge Hill, as I think it’ll be of interest to a lot of people, especially if you’re self funding your course or living costs. One of the things I love the most about the Uni is how many opportunities there really are. I can’t talk about every single one here in this post, but I’m going to shed some light on some of the ones that I think most people will be able to apply for:

  • Student guides: this is one of the main jobs you can apply for at the Uni. The role of the student guides is extensive, but for a short little summary, they staff and help with the open days and other such events for the University, help guide visitors, ensure the smooth running of these events, and are basically the student face of the University. You have to attend a group interview, but it’s not half as scary as you might think when you hear the word “interview”, I even had a few laughs in mine cause the people were so lovely and funny. During the Freshers’ Fayre, there was a table last year in which you could apply for an interview, so keep a look out if you would like to apply for this. It is an excellent thing to put on your CV!
  • Departmental helpers: similar to Student Guides, these help with the smooth running of things at the University during events- more so open days, but there are the odd days where you can come in handy too. I became a helper for the Performing Arts department (you will probably be based in the department you’re studying with, as it’s what you know personally and the most logical place for you to help out) as I had not gotten the Student Guide job, and even though I didn’t apply for it exactly, I’m glad for the experience it’s given me! I was contacted to help as I’d done the Guide interview, which is great, as Edge Hill really try and get you experience wherever they can. I’ve found being a departmental helper to be a lot more suited to me actually, as I’ve not only been working and getting paid to get experience (a source of income is always super helpful as a student), but I’ve been speaking to people who are interested in the same things as me, and have even spent some open days doing clowning and juggling, which is always fun! It’s the best when you can enjoy a work day.
  • On-campus jobs: there are various jobs that you will get emailed about by the Careers centre that are on campus. One example is working in the McColls shop in the Hub, or recently, there has been a huge boost for people to apply for jobs in the brand new on-campus Subway! I always like to check these emails, as they send out emails on all kinds of jobs that would be suitable for all kinds of people!
  • Other emailed jobs: the career centre will also put in these emails any appropriate jobs for students in and around the Edge Hill and Ormskirk area. So keep your eye out!

Of course, in and around Ormskirk there are also always gonna be places you can ask to give your CV in, just like in any town, all you’ve got to do is take a proactive leap in doing it! It’s so useful to have an income other than your student finance, especially in your first year when you’re working out your budgeting and living costs.

I hope this gave you a bit of an idea of things you can get involved with! Feel free to drop me any questions in the comments, and I hope you have a good end to your Saturday!

Being a student guide

We’ve talked a lot about how part time jobs can really help with giving you a little extra money to have in your pocket.

Today, I’m talking about becoming and being a student guide.

Above is a picture of just some of the student guides during last year’s summer residential.

The Student Guide position is one you can apply for in your 1st and 2nd year. When I applied, I had to fill out a short application, then attend a group interview and workshop.

When I applied, everyone automatically had to complete a DBS, which basically means you’re allowed to work with children and vulnerable adults. However, I believe that’s changed, and now you get to choose if you wish to be a Pre-16 guide or Post-16 guide; this just means that if you choose Pre-16, you will still have to complete a DBS, so you can work with the younger years.

Student Guide jobs can include:

  • packing envelopes, to send out to applicants
  • giving campus and accommodation tours
  • assisting with school visits
    • campus tours
    • workshops (debating, design a uni, budgeting, personal statement)
    • delivering students to and from sessions
  • helping out at big events, such as the Open and Applicant Days
  • working during the residential

Don’t be put off if you’re worried about standing in front of others, or don’t feel like you have enough knowledge about certain things! Being a student guide can really help improve your confidence, and there is plenty of training along the way, with a lovely host of staff members who are willing to help you out wherever needed.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You’ll receive an email from our portal, sent from a member of the Education Liaison Team
  2. Once logged into the portal, you will see work that is listed that you’re able to do
  3. If you’re not busy and can attend, you can confirm (or reject, if you can’t)
  4. Usually within a week, sometimes longer, the staff in the office will confirm you for work

This means that you can pick the days that are easiest for you, when the work becomes available. I really love that I’ve been able to pick work up – at a really good wage – around my studies. Although it is really flexible and we do have a lot of fun, it’s important to remember that it is a real job so if you’re not interesting in working hard, it may not be the job for you.

However, my favourite thing about the job is the amount of people I’ve met along the way. If I hadn’t become a student guide, it is unlikely that I’d have met even half of the friends I do have at uni.

Things I wish I knew before university

Here is a list compiled by some of my nearest and dearest friends of things that they wished they knew before starting university:

  1. Do not worry about making friends! You’ll find a group to slot into and you will wonder why you ever let it worry you!
  2. Don’t leave all the referencing to the end of the essay – you’re going to hate yourself for it at the end.
  3. Everyone has different backgrounds when coming to university – you have to respect that, even if they put the milk in before the teabag. 
  4. How to budget! So many students say they wished they had more experience of budgeting before coming to university. Check out this post or this post about budgeting. Why not ask whoever does the shopping if you can be given the responsibility a couple of times before you come, to try it out for yourself?
  5. It’s okay to feel lonely or homesick sometimes – it doesn’t mean you’re not ‘making the most’ of your university life. It happens, and it is a normal feeling. In this case, I’d always suggest contacting friends from university to speak with first; they’re likely to be a 10 minute walk away for you to go and have a cuppa, but obviously stay in contact with home friends too.
  6. You may become distant with your friends from home, and that is okay too. You have whole new different experiences now, especially if you’re doing different courses. For me, it was important that I stayed in contact with those people, and made sure to do so with the people that were interested in staying in contact with me.
  7. Lecturers and tutors don’t chase you up for that piece of work you haven’t submitted, or that book you’ve read about, as much as your high school and college teachers insist that they do. You’re gonna have to motivate yourselves, guys.
  8. How to cook! Similar to budgeting, my recommendation would be to practise cooking some easy meals before you start at uni, particularly things that you know you’re going to be able to afford to cook. Alternatively, make friends with people who really enjoy cooking…

So there are 8 of the (many) things that my friends and I wished we knew before university. Don’t worry – we’ll keep you informed of anything else we really wished we knew.

How to adult- a crash course in University life

One of the things most people worry about when it comes to University is the independence that comes with it if you choose to live away from home. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my first year at this University, once you’ve settled in and you’ve figured your routines out, you take the responsibilities in your stride!

Below are a few examples I’ve come across through the past 6 months:

Budgeting (and shopping)

Budgeting is probably the biggest responsibility students come across. Not only do you need to ensure that you have enough money to have a healthy and happy social life, you need to ensure you have money for food. It takes most people some time to get used to the different things you need to budget for as a Uni student, but once you’ve been shopping a few times and figured out your usual expenditures you’ll get the hang of it.

Below are a couple of articles on budgeting that might give you some tips and tricks that can prepare you for September!

All things budgeting…

Money Makes the World Go ‘Round: Budgeting for Students

Laundry

I know, it seems like something that would be low on the list, but I underestimated the time I would have to put into ensuring I had clothes readily available to wear and didn’t budget for paying for it either! Some people I know were already doing all of their laundry back home, but I only operated an iron and ironing board as I was worried I would damage either my clothes or the washing machine itself! If there’s something I’ve learnt a lot about this year, it’s how to ensure I can clothe myself;

  • Lesson 1: Don’t spend your laundry money on Domino’s pizza… oh, and that includes your money for washing tablets, you need them to actually wash for starters!
  • Lesson 2: Laundry takes time. Don’t wake up an hour before a lesson thinking you’ll be able to put the clothes you wanna wear on and turn up on time…
  • Lesson 3: It’s not a one step system… as well as the time taken to wash the clothes, you need to dry them too, and iron them if they need it. I usually dedicate a day over the weekend to get it done without distractions or timing issues!
  • Lesson 4: … Don’t stick flannel/gym kit/delicate material in a dryer unless you want it to fit your future children… it shrinks!

Although it’s an added thing for your to-do list, the joy always comes after a wash day when you get to throw yourself onto your laundry bag which is full of lovely warm, freshly dried clothing… it’s my biggest adulting guilty pleasure!

Sleeping

An eternal struggle for most students… you either sleep too much and get nothing done, or sleep too little and zombie-walk your way through life! I have a habit of not watching the clock, and without my parents to ensure my bed is actually getting slept in, I can sometimes be doing assignments or (more realistically) watching Netflix till the early hours of the morning!

But it’s important to get into a habit of sleeping a decent amount and at a fairly regular time, as you can slip into some really bad habits that could affect your studies and your ability to adult in general.

 

So, I could list a few other things in this post, but trust me, once you get into the swing of things and start to stand on your own two feet life gets easier and I actually find the independence brings me so much more from life than when I was trying my hardest to escape responsibilities!

If there are any questions or worries you have, please don’t hesitate to pop me a comment 🙂

And on that note, I’ll leave you with this:

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/

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.