Students up and down the UK seem to be having a recurring problem that repeats itself every semester of every year; where does your student loan go? Scrolling down my bank statement, a metaphorical financial egg timer seems to be slowly trickling away my overdraft on small but regular expenses. Is it lack of self-control or do the pressures of university social and academic life make it necessary to splash the cash?
With every student trying to pinch the pennies, taking out a tenner for a night out may seem reasonable at the time. But these quick trips to cash points over the course of a term at Uni can add up to a hefty chunk of your budget blown. Are we spending the money because we want to, or to avoid the fear of being too "boring" to say no?
However, it's not just nightclubs and bars that manage to rake in students' budget. In order to join my favourite societies at university this year, I spent £30 on membership fees alone over five societies. Yet at the time I thought nothing of it; societies are a great way to interact with other students outside of your course that share your common interests, why should financial restrictions stop this? We never stop to question how these membership fees are utilised, money is duly handed over to our respective SU's in a sort of strange university life cycle. With Nottingham University's Student Union announcing a 40% budget increase, taking their total bill per annum to £2.7m, one cannot help but wonder not where the funding is coming from - that much is obvious - but how is it being spent? Warded off by vague statements from Student Union presidents, our own financial situation seems less than reassuring.
Moving away from the social aspect of finance, certain university courses are asking their students to purchase required reading. Most of these hallowed editions are available through online-giants such as Amazon or Blackwells but at a hefty price. According to the recent NUS survey, the average student spends £75.86 on reading lists and £37.88 on course related equipment. This is without the guilt-induced trips to Paperchase to buy stationary supplies, racking up a further £16.74. But this is spending that we are told specifically to do by our higher education elders, it should be justifiable.
Turning to student forums for guidance on budgeting, the advice is very much common sense and hardly radical. As well as instructing us to flash our NUS cards for discounts wherever possible, one is told to be your own person, check your overdraft statements and strike a balance. Concerned for your educational welfare, nowhere seems to promote part-time jobs yet the 2010 NatWest Student Living Index Survey begs to differ; many students are turning to retail and bar work with London students alone making an income of £5,024.40 per academic year.
I work part-time during the holidays and attempt to cling on to my wages for as long as possible during term time but I am starting to miss the monthly boost to my bank account that takes a violent drop as soon as I return to university. With these pressures of spending becoming almost expected, it appears that student budgeting is far more complicated than meets the eye.