Student editor for mental health branch Hazel Nash shares some of her secrets for staying financially savvy while studying nursing
Thanks to a combination of good timing (graduating ahead of the tuition fee rise), understanding parents and a vast array of part-time jobs, I scrambled through my first degree debt-free.
I’m no financial expert but over the past 2 years of juggling academic work, placement and paid shifts - whilst trying to stay housed, fed and sane - I have picked up a few tips to save money:
1. Spend money on the right things…
…And top of that list should be looking after yourself. A well-timed extra £10 on your heating will save substantially more in lemsips, antibiotic prescriptions and sleepless nights worrying about any lectures you were too ill to make it in for.
2. Plan things to look forward to
Looking after yourself means mentally as well as physically. Plan ahead to visit far-flung friends or simply get away from the stress at home. Having something to look forward to is really helpful when you feel snowed under with assignments and exams.
Plus, booking early means you can get good deals on travel or admission. Also, you might want to look into any student deals on trains and coaches.
3. Make the most of your student status
Get onto NUS extra and Unidays for savings when shopping, but also scour the internet for specific student deals that might benefit you. Some companies do discounts for students (and NHS workers) on phone contracts. Also, make sure to apply for a council tax rebate: depending on who else you’re living with, you can get a massive discount or not have to pay at all.
These all add up to keep monthly costs low.
4. Network early and keep your ear to the ground for part-time opportunities
Working for an agency or trust bank is a great head-start for post-qualification job-hunting, brilliant experience and handy cash when you need it. Also, if you have other commitments as a parent or carer, be smart about planning shifts: with unsocial hours bonuses, Sunday pay in my local trust is an extra 70% per hour than weekdays so get in early when booking.
5. Don’t lose track of finances while at placement or university
I always spend less if I’m paying by cash than card (“magic plastic money”) so I withdraw a budget at the start of each week. I try to plan ahead with snacks so I have something tasty for my break so a double-mega-triple muffin from the coffee shop is slightly less tempting. Also, on a night shift I can often eat for 10 hours solid so I make sure to leave my card at home and avoid a 3am McDonalds dash.
6. Get into water
This is boring but it has saved me a heap of money. Topping up your water bottle is free and, given time, is just as addictive as popping out for £2.50 lattes or £2 vending machine bottles of coke on every break.
This is not an exhaustive list but I hope some of these are useful ideas for everyone counting pennies. Especially, with the recent changes to nursing education funding, making your finances stretch is something that is going to become even more difficult.
Please use the comments section to share your tips!