Where does the money come from?

There is a stereotype of students as being broke, I suppose this works to our advantage as so many places do offer student discount because of this. It can be scary though, knowing for the next three or four years you’re going to have to deal with this trope. This may be the first time you’ve ever been financially independent to this extent and if you’re worried about budgeting I have a past blog post you can check out. This post will focus on where you can get money from when you’re at university.

Student loan: This is the big one and there are two parts of this you can apply for. The first part is your tuition fee which will be paid straight to the university and this will cover the fees that the university charge you. This will usually be the full amount but if you go to a private university you may have to contribute extra yourself. The second part is the money you will actually see, this is the maintenance loan. With Student Finance England the amount you receive is dependent on your parents income which can be problematic for some people but as you will see there are other ways of getting money while at university. All the information about paying this back is on the Student Finance website so you can check that out if you are unsure on anything. However, this is definitely the best type of loan to take out when you are a student as the repayment is more like a tax as opposed to how you’d pay back a regular loan. Also note that I have only used Student Finance England and I know it is slightly different in the other countries of Great Britain but all the information you will need can be found on the government’s website. One last thing to say on this, if you are going to university this year and haven’t applied yet, you need to do this ASAP as it takes time to process.

Bursaries: you can check to see if can you apply for any bursaries either through your university or a third party corporation. These are different to a loan as they are basically free money, they don’t have to be paid back. The only thing is that you have to qualify for these and there are different types of bursaries for people with different needs.

Part-time job: If you are worried about how to juggle a job while at university, don’t worry I have a blog post for that. For some people this will be a necessity and as someone who has worked while I’ve been studying it definitely is possible, it may just require a bit more organisation. The best thing about this is you can work the hours to suit how much money you need (within reason, you still need time for your studies) so this is a great form of income if your loan isn’t enough to cover everything. It also gives you that sense of independence, that money you are spending you have earned yourself.

Savings: This is something to plan ahead but if you know you want to go to university in a few years perhaps start putting some money away for it now. It doesn’t have to be a lot, it could just be a portion of pocket money or wages from a part-time job. It just means you have that added security of a bit of extra cash.

Speak to parents and guardians: The idea with student finance is that if you get a small loan your parents will make up for it. This is of course not possible for everyone but if you are worried about the amount of money you have coming in, speak to your parents and see if you can come to some sort of arrangement.

Student bank account with an interest-free overdraft: Most banks will offer a student bank account so its best to look through these and see which one has the best perks or will suit your needs best. A good thing about these bank accounts is that the overdraft is usually interest-free while you’re a student. Do be careful with these though as often you will begin to be charged interest on any debt you occurred as a student once you graduate, make sure you always read the fine print. It can be a good idea if you need a bit of extra money to tide you over until the next time you have some money coming in.

Finding the job for you: Retail

As I said last week with my hospitality post, I’m making a little series of jobs you can do part-time at university to get a bit of extra cash.  Of course, I only have experience in hospitality, but I have looked into these other jobs so that I can give you a range of options. This week I have decided to talk about working in retail. Like hospitality this is a customer service job, but it is obviously going to be different in some ways.  For this you will be working in a shop; maybe re-stocking the floor, helping out customers or working on the tills.  It’s a great job for you if you are a people person and want to engage with people constantly while you’re at work. 

How do I find a job? With retail it probably best to look outside of the university. I know my university does have a few on-campus shops which people can apply to, but this is limited. There is also a co-op on our campus that employs students so maybe look into privately owned shops close by. You can of course also apply to jobs in the local area, most of these you will be able to apply for online if they have vacancies or their websites will give information of how to apply but it won’t hurt to see if they’ll accept your CV in person, especially if it is an independent shop.  

Positives of working in the industry: The big positive of working in retail for students is the flexibility, whether it is set shifts or different shift patterns each week they will usually be able to accommodate you around your studies.  This means you can have your university life and work life separate and won’t have to worry about them clashing. This is also the type of job that will keep you on your feet and while some people may see that as a negative it’s a nice change from studying. I find while at university a lot of it is sitting down; in lectures, when revising and when preparing for seminars. Having a job that requires you to keep moving helps towards having an active lifestyle.  There are so many retail opportunities up and down the country meaning that wherever you are at university there should be plenty of places for you to apply to. Lastly, the one a lot of people would consider the best perk is that most retail places will offer a staff discount as an incentive to work there, so if you’re looking for a job it’s something you might as well take advantage of. 

Negatives of working in the industry: You’ve probably heard many negatives when it comes to retail and a big one people talk about is difficult customers. As annoying as it is this is something you will need to prepare yourself for and if this is something you want to avoid it might be best to look for a job in a different industry. It can be inconvenient hours; if you’re hoping for a break at weekends this may not be possible if you’re working in retail as this is going to be when they are busy, and they will need staff.   The work can become very monotonous after a while; there are very limited tasks you will be able to do, and you will find yourself doing things over and over again with very little change.  As with hospitality, there will be many people going to university looking for jobs and many of them will have experience. It can be a difficult industry to get into without that experience and so may take some work to find a job. 

Travelling on a budget: Booking your holiday

With the lockdown restrictions lifting in England you may be starting to think about getting away some time soon. I know me and my friends have already started to think about where will go next summer after our holiday this year was cancelled. Whether you are booking a holiday soon or just thinking about a far-off trip knowing how to budget will be vital. Having an estimate on how much it will cost will mean you can make sure it’s affordable and you’ll know how much you need to save. I’ve outlined my top tips of how to travel on a budget from my own experiences. 

Chose a destination: First step in working out a budget is choosing a destination. I’ll be posting a blog post next week on how I budget for spending when I’m actually on holiday, but it is a good idea to check how much an average day in your destination will cost before you commit. There are some cities and countries that are notoriously more expensive and so these may not be the best places to go when on a budget. One of my top picks would be Budapest, if you’re looking for a city break, as it’s beautiful and has so much to do while not breaking the bank. Me and my friends loved it so much we are thinking of going again next year. Also, work out how far away you want to go. Me and my friends have had some great holidays in the UK, which makes things a bit cheaper as you’re not travelling as far but you can also get great deals on flights within Europe. 

Travel: My top tip here is don’t just go for the first option that comes to mind.  You may automatically think flying will be a lot more expensive than any other mode of transport, but this may not always be the case. When we went to Edinburgh from Birmingham we chose to fly for convenience as it was only a bit more expensive than the train and a good few hours’ time difference. We did the same when flying to Paris, as to take the Eurotunnel or Ferry would have meant getting to the London or the Ferry port when it was a lot more convenient to get to Birmingham airport and just flying from there. If you go for a budget airline and fly at the right time you can get an absolute steal. A tip would also be if you are going to be flying check whether it is cheaper to fly one-way both ways with different airlines as opposed to just getting a return ticket as from my experience this can turn out cheaper. Also remember no matter how you get to the other country you will need to sort transport to your accommodation and you’ll find this to be cheaper if you book in advance rather than get their equivalent of a ‘black cab’ when you arrive in a new country.  Of course, public transport will usually be cheaper but dependant on when you’re flying and where you are staying this may not be possible. Doing that extra bit of research can help you to find good deals on coaches, taxis or shuttle buses. Do check the reviews though before you book and ask friends and family what they have used in the past as they may even have vouchers or referral codes you can use to get some money off. 

Accommodation: Now this is where you will make or break your budget. I feel with the transport the difference in price between options is not overly staggering (unless you decide to do everything business class with all the upgrades). However, deciding on the type of accommodation you want will really be dependent on your budget and dependant on what type of holiday you want.  There’s no point paying for an all-inclusive resort if you’re going on a city break and will be out most of the day however, if you are going on a party holiday it might be worth staying at one of these where alcohol is included. My favourite accommodation when travelling on a budget is a hostel with a kitchen as they’re cheap to stay in and you can cook your own food from the supermarket. This gives you the flexibility that if you want to go out for a meal you can and you’re not missing out on a pre-paid meal, but you can also cook what you want when you want.  You can also use the kitchen to make a packed lunch to take with you on your day out meaning you won’t have to pay to eat out for lunch every day.  Hostels can be used by solo and group travellers alike for a cheap place to stay in a prime tourist area. By putting in the research you can find a place with good transport connections whether it is close to public transport or within walking distance of key places you want to visit. Remember the better you plan the placement of your accommodation the more money you will save when you are actually on holiday. You don’t want to have to be spending loads of money on transport when you can find somewhere to stay that will have better and cheaper transport links. Similar to hostels, are apartments and Airbnb that have the facilities for self-catering so make sure to check-out different options to see what works best for where you want to stay and how many of you are travelling. 

Luggage and travel essentials: It’s always best to plan what you will need to take with you and what you can buy when you arrive. Rather than paying extra for hold luggage me and my friends opt to just take a cabin bag as I have found you can fit everything you need for a holiday in one of these. Be sure to check the dimension requirements before you fly as airlines can be very strict on these and I have had to pay a large sum for my bag to be put in the hold for being just a couple of centimetres too big.  Also remember, there are restrictions on what can be taken in cabin baggage and that all liquids must be under 100ml. It might be a good idea to just buy these when you get over there rather than take miniatures of shampoo, conditioner and body wash which are often overpriced for the amount you get. We usually just get a big bottle of these between us when we arrive which works out cheaper and we don’t have to worry about it taking up room in our liquid’s bags. 

I hope these tips help for when you are looking to book a holiday on a budget. If you want some advice on how to budget while on holiday and how much you should take, look out for my post next week!

How do I budget and actually stick to it?

If you’d have asked me this question two years ago, I’d have to have said I don’t. That however was not healthy for my bank account or my mental health, being in my overdraft and seeing the money in my savings go down would make me worry about how I’d deal with this in the future. Luckily, I started to do a proper budget and learnt how to stick with it. The most important things to look at is what you have coming in whether that is your student loan, wages from a job or both. Once you have worked out how much you have to spend decide whether you will budget per week or per month, personally I do per week so I don’t spend my months budget straight away and anything I don’t spend in that week I can roll over to the next. Once all this is done, follow these tips to properly budget!


Rent and housing bills: paying rent and bills and paying them on time are the most important things when it comes to money. When money comes in put aside the money or pay your rent straight away. As students your loan will come in three chunks, one per term, and so if your rent and bills are being paid once a month it can be easy to see the money in your account and think you can spend it. Personally, I put it in a separate account so that I don’t feel inclined to spend it and it’s there for me when I need it. Once this is out of the way you can work out how much you have left per month. Of course, when it comes to student loans some people’s will cover a lot less than others so you may need to get a part-time job or get financial assistance from parents to make ends meet. It’s also important to note how much you can afford to spend on your accommodation, especially when it comes to uni halls as the prices can differ greatly. Deciding whether it is worth sacrificing other things for an en-suite bathroom when you could save money with a shared bathroom is something you’ll have to think about.  Also, in halls you are usually lucky enough that the bills are included and so you won’t need to worry about this separately, it will all be one payment of rent and bills. 

Food and other shopping necessities: food of course is the next big thing, when it comes to food there are many options to decide from which will impact how much you should budget for this. Personally, I don’t spend too much on my weekly shop as I go to a budget supermarket but then I also tend to get a takeaway or go out for a meal once or twice a month which I will factor into my food budget. The more high-end you go with your food and the more you buy the higher you should budget for this. The best thing to do when it comes to food is work out what you plan to eat in the week and make a shopping list that way you only buy what you need and save money and food by not buying what you will eventually throw away. I find when I shop without a list, I just grab what I fancy even if I won’t get chance to eat it before the use by date. Also, remember when you go to a supermarket you are not just buying food, factor in money for toiletries, cleaning products, stationary and the like.  This is especially important if you are catered, while you food may be included in rent, there will be other bits you need to pick up at the supermarket that you should include in your budget. 

Hobbies: A big part of university is getting involved with student life; whether that is joining a society, playing for a sports team or going on nights out. The reason I put this high up on the list is for a lot of these things I did not realise how expensive were until I got to uni. With sports teams and societies, you usually have to pay upfront at the start of the year which may feel like a big chunk going out of your pocket which is why I’d recommend a separate fresher’s budget. Your first week or two at uni will most likely be your most expensive and so budgeting a lot more for this is wise. It’s also important to remember that these organisations will have things going on throughout the year whether that’s matches, formals or socials, if this is something you want to be a part of this should be added to your budget.  You don’t want to miss out on going out with your teammates or fellow society members because you can’t afford it. The same goes for nights out, if you know that you want to go out multiple times a week you need to budget this so that you don’t suddenly find yourself in your overdraft. 

Treating yourself: as much as I’d love to tell you to treat yourself as much as you feel like it, this is not easy when on a budget. I found the best way to do this is to set yourself goals, if I can save this much money by this date I will go shopping. This could also work by saying, if in say three weeks it’s still on my mind I’ll treat myself. An example of this was when I wanted to splurge on a matching gym set so I told myself if I go to the gym at least three times a week for the next month I’ll treat myself. Not only did this make me feel like I deserved to treat myself, but it also gave me the peace of mind that I was investing in something I’d actually get use out of. 

Savings and emergency fund: As I said before I chose to budget each week and what I don’t spend rolls over to the next week. However, at the end of each month, I will move whatever money I don’t spend into savings or an emergency fund so that I have money for the future or for an emergency. 


Just remember learning to budget can take time and you won’t change your spending habits overnight. Once you start saving money, the joy that you’ll feel in having money saved will far exceed the short-term gratification of receiving a haul of clothes you probably won’t wear in a month’s time. I will add though, remember you’re going to university to enjoy yourself (and to study of course) so find what works best when it comes to spending. You don’t want to miss out on everything because you want to save all your money but then you may struggle later on if you blow all your money at once.  Balance is key!

Introducing me

First I’d like to say welcome to my blog and thank you for checking it out. Let me introduce myself; I’m Eden, I’m 19 years old and I’m going into my third year of university at Reading where I study history. My blog has six sections; uni life, food, travel, books, budgeting and after uni in which I aim to give advice on everything you need to know about university life.


Where to look for what?

Travel – you may think being a student or a graduate on a budget makes travel impossible. Read how you can still enjoy travelling on a budget and my recommendations on the best places to go on holiday.

Budgeting – if I’d have tried giving budgeting advice two years ago, it would not have gone well but I’ve learnt over my past two years at uni. Learning from my own mistakes has really helped me develop a good relationship with money and to stay out of my overdraft.

Food – going to uni may be the first time you start to cook for yourself which can be difficult. Read my tips and recipes for easy to make food that you can easily make single portions of or make a large batch to freeze and enjoy later.

Uni life – there is so much going on at uni that you may need advice for, so check out this section where I will hope to answer all your questions about being a student.

After uni – as I’m going into my third year of uni I’m having to think about what I am going to do after uni. I want to document my experience in learning about the options out there and the path I take.

Books – want to know what to read next or whether a book is even worth the read? Have a read of my book reviews.


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