Before I came to university, I was working eight hours a week and getting paid handsomely for it. I was spending my money without too much caution because there was nothing I really needed to ensure I was paying for, apart from a phone bill once a month.
I wasn’t reckless with my money, far from it actually. I was sitting on a rather tidy amount of wages that I’d saved up over quite a long period of time and was really pleased with it too.
In the months before I came to Derby, there were various expenditures that I couldn’t avoid, such as buying everything I needed to survive at university, but I also went to Reading music festival and had a bit of a blow out there. But why not? It was my last summer before going away to university and I had the money to be able to afford it.
These days of frivolous spending came to an abrupt end when I moved into Princess Alice Court in September three years ago.
If memory serves me well, the rent for my flat came out automatically a few days after I received my student loan three times during my first year, and even after that, I had a sizeable amount of my student loan left.
A lot of people, me included, thought we were in the big leagues because we thought we were loaded! How wrong we were.
I think at one point I had £800 left in my account and thought I would be fine, but still managed to be struggling for money at points.
Things like freshers fortnight, eating out with your new friends, buying key texts and resources for your course all add up to a surprisingly large amount without you even realising it.
Before you know it as well, you’ll have to start looking at student houses for your second year, and we paid the deposit for ours in late December of my first year.
There’s food shops, unexpected expenses like if something breaks, phone bills and anything else you might do that is an extra strain on your bank account.
I saw so many people in my first and second years who were utterly careless with their money and who used their student loan to buy a new wardrobe or fund their three nights out every week.
I’ve seen it again this year in my third year. I live with two other third years, who have learned how to budget their money, and a rather naïve first year.
He wasn’t too foolish with his money at first, and seemed to be heeding our warnings about not giving into temptation and spending too much.
Then, one day, I came home and he told me about the 30 inch TV and big speaker he’d ‘treated himself’ to. Then the next week, he’d brought two new pairs of rather pricey Nikes.
I cast my sceptical eye over his choices, but he assured me he’d be fine.
Now, he’s really really struggling for money and I can’t help but think that if he hadn’t treated himself so much, that he’d be alright. Instead, he couldn’t even spare £5 to come to watch the football with me and our other flat mates on Tuesday night.
What I’m saying may sound like complete doom and gloom, but what I’m trying to do is warn you and tell you that it doesn’t have to be.
I’ve got myself into a tricky spot with money once, but after doing it, I’m never going to do so again if I can help it.
You just have to be sensible and if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
It’s crucial that you budget well and look for ways to save money in everything you do.
If you really want something, but you’re not sure you can afford it, think like this: it’s either a mad shopping spree or food.
I’m not saying you should never treat yourself. Just be wise.
You’ll soon learn that a student loan is great, but it’s not a lifesaver.
You’ve not won the lottery, so don’t spend like you have or you will regret it.