Worrying about money is one of the most common fears felt by university students. However, this fear can sometimes detract from the overall university experience which is why it is a good idea to look at things in perspective. Jobs can add to the stress of university so sometimes it is a good idea to decide not to work. For example, I have recently decided not to work at my part-time job this third year of university. This was a decision that I agonised over for many months over summer whilst I did work, and I came to this decision for many reasons. And this is what you will find too for a variety of reasons, sometimes there will be times when you don’t have to or even don’t want to work. This is perfectly acceptable.
Reasons for not working
I have worked through my first two years of university. This is unusual as most students prefer not to work their first year and instead will work the last two. However, after talking to parents, tutors and other recent graduates, I realised that it made more sense if I gave up work third year. This is the year that counts the most and also the year where the most effort needs putting in. I have been back 3 weeks and I’m already planning not just my dissertation but also my other modules have essays that need writing and exams that need preparing for. That extra free time that I perhaps would have spent at my job enables me to put extra effort into my university work.
Not that I didn’t work hard last year but the lure of money is one that a lot of students struggle with. Even though I was only supposed to work 13 hours a week, split between a Saturday and a Monday, it meant that if other shifts were on offer, I would try and justify them in my head. “It’s only 6 hours, if I do my work all on Tuesday, I can work Wednesday too”. However, this sort of mindset is dangerous, it meant that I was rushing through my university work whenever I had a free moment and not putting the effort in that I should have been. Getting that money in can be a nice feeling but 6 hours at minimum wage is not what I should be jeopardising my university work over. That won’t break the bank, and neither will it make a massive overall difference to my wages.
Thinking ahead (sometimes)
I have saved enough. Working through two years at university as well as summer and Christmas meant that I wasn’t in trouble with money if I did make this decision. Ok, I hadn’t planned on not working when I first started saving but it just means that I can dedicate myself fully to my degree. Also, whenever you start worrying about money, just try telling yourself what I have been. You earn money to spend it, to buy a car, to pay for a phone, to buy that food shop. Therefore, if it is just sat in your bank, it is not doing anything. And if you can make your life easier by not working then I fully support that.
I’m not suggesting that you should only not work if you have done all these but if you feel like you are stretched too thinly then maybe think about lessening some of the hours you are doing or even going the full mile and just leaving. University is stressful enough and doing a part time job adds to the stress. This is why anyone who does a part time job at university should be commended. They are pushing themselves and to be honest, when you leave university you will have less time on your hands than you currently do. It is all life preparation.
Have no income? Have no worries!
However, if the thought of having no income at all completely scares you, there are a few things you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable. First of all, work out a budget, factor in your weekly food shop, any travel expenses you have, going out sessions, anything where you think you might spend money. Think about rent, student loan and parents. Will any of these affect your budget? If you have enough then great! Second of all, get an overdraft. This will help if you don’t quite have enough. This is a buffer which can just help you have a little left-over money so you’re not squeezed too tightly at the end of the month. Also make sure you take advantage of every option, keep an eye out for paid surveys which are common for students and discounts which can all help save money. Something I always do which might not work for everyone is that I always round everything up. So instead of paying only £4.10 for a notebook, I’ll round that up to £5 and put that 90p away in an account. This adds up quite fast.
Ultimately, you’re at university to get a degree, so don’t let money worries detract from your experience. If fewer nights out mean a first-class degree instead of a 2.2. then it will all be worth it. Also, the minute you start working, you will be shocked at how much money you can get. Take a look at graduate schemes for some ideas of starting salaries. Don’t stress about money, university is stressful enough.