If you’re a university student, you’re probably stressed about the rising cost of living. Even before the pandemic, 84% of students reported that they were worried about finances and that these worries had a detrimental effect on their mental health.
Inflation continues to rise, but resources to support student mental health haven’t yet caught up. Only 23% of students are happy with the mental health support services their university offers, and one in five students is diagnosed with some form of anxiety mid-way through their course.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by financial factors out of your control. However, gaining financial literacy and exploring all the options available to you can lighten the burden and help you manage financial stress during your student years.
You don’t have to take a macroeconomics class to become financially literate. Many banks, like Natwest and Barclays, offer financial literacy skills apps for free on their websites. You can take advantage of these resources independently or even look into making an appointment with your bank to see if they can help you better understand your financial outlook.
If you have a student loan, you’re probably somewhat familiar with credit scores already. As a student, it’s in your best interest to start building credit for a better financial future. A good credit score can help you apply for loans for things like cars and your mortgage later in life.
You can start to build a good credit score by applying for a secure credit card and using your student bank account to contribute to your credit score. Make sure you can reasonably repay any debts you wrack up, as you don’t want to ding your score by using an overdraft or missing repayment dates. You can also take out credit builder loans from your savings account, which can also help you build a good credit history.
Learning about the financial options available to you can reduce your stress and help you feel in control of your money. However, you’ll likely need a financial plan to ensure you have enough money to pay for rising energy bills at your accommodation.
Creating a simple financial plan can help you avoid bumps in the road as a student. A financial plan should include a budget complete with:
Tracking how much you’ll be paid and when you’ll receive your income will ensure that your cash flow remains positive. Your maintenance loan will dictate how much you receive and when it comes in. Planning around these dates is also great for building better peace of mind, as you’ll know exactly how much you’ll have to play with before further funds become available.
If you begin to feel as though you’re pushing your finances to the limit, do not start skipping meals or living in a cold room. Your university may be able to provide meals if you are in need and you can find food banks through apps like Foodbank and Spareable.
Protect Against Fraud
Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Unfortunately, even young, tech-savvy folks are getting caught out by phishing schemes and malware on their devices. As a student, you need to take preventative measures to ensure that you don’t become the target of fraud.
Start by ensuring that all your devices are updated. Devices with out-of-date software can be targeted by scammers and may not have sufficient security. Even Apple, which is well known for its security, recently pushed a rush update so that scammers couldn’t take advantage of a security flaw.
Fraud occurs in the real world, too. As a student, you’re probably receiving your first physical financial documents. These documents, like bank statements and payslips, need to be safely secured or shredded to retain your safety. Nowadays, you may even want to shred uncommon items like receipts and mail with QR codes, as these can be targeted by fraudsters.
Finances can be stressful for everyone. Sometimes, this stress can be useful as it pushes you to take action and make a clear financial plan for the next 3 years. Other times, stress can be debilitating, and leave you burnt out and worried before you’ve even taken a class.
As a student, you need to learn to manage your stress. Usually, this means you need to get in touch with university counsellors who are trained to help you navigate your future and can get you an appointment with a therapist.
You can also try to practice stress management by yourself. You can naturally regulate your stress by engaging in regular exercises and eating a diet rich in protein. Exercise regimes like practicing yoga or signing up for a team sport can bring you calm and reduce your physical response to stress.
Everyone is feeling the squeeze at the moment. As a student, you can’t afford to compromise your education by worrying about financial insecurity or skipping meals. Instead, become financially literate and try to plan for the future by building credit as and when you can. If you need extra help, reach out to your university as they may have hardship funding programmes available to you.
Charlie is a freelance writer living in the pacific northwest who has a variety of interests including sociology, politics, business, education, health, and more.
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