The complex world of money


By Suvi Loponen


Students are easily judged as irresponsible when it comes to their spending habits – and most of the time for good reasons. The word ‘saving’ may as well be ancient Hebrew to some and what exactly is budgeting supposed to mean?

Planning how much to spend and where seems unrewarding when you only realise afterwards that no matter how hard you try, there are unexpected costs lurking behind every corner. SAAS seems to be nowhere near enough to cover everything and so many students have ‘alternative’, shall we say, ‘ways of generating income.’ And they involve really putting yourself out there.

Last year, law student Vanessa Knowles declared to the public that she funds her degree by stripping online, making £50k a year from it. You’d think that this is not really that common but a study (Voucher Code Pro) complied recently shows that over a third of university students fund their degree by doing ‘online jobs’, making on average £189 a week. Although the most common part-time jobs for students are still in retail and nightlife, according to the study, up to 11% of students- every tenth person you see in a lecture- fund their university life by doing online work of sexual nature. With the minimum wage of £ 6.50 per hour, it would require me to do almost 30 hours in a week to earn as much.

For many, starting university is the first step to becoming fully responsible of your own finances. Expenses are climbing up all the time – even Strathclyde’s the most affordable halls cost almost £100 a week. Budgeting skills take some time to learn and when you have never controlled your money on your own before, it is hard to judge whether spending £ 189 a week is reasonable – which in my opinion is not, except if more than half of it goes towards your rent. For some students, their parents will pay the rent enabling any bursaries and student loan payments to fall into the hands of the student for things of mediocre importance, such as clubbing and clothes. Therefore, it is not a surprise that 31 per cent of the surveyed students said their loan did not cover their rent. So should we be surprised that many young people in the UK have turned to the internet to fund their living expenses?

Luckily, the looming ‘online jobs’ market does not refer exclusively to pornographic work: 23% of the 2,700 polled have sold clothes; 14% earn money from blogging; 4% have even sold their used underwear (nice). I would suggest that a decade ago this survey would have resulted in quite different numbers, but nowadays internet is part of our daily routine. Blogging, for example, something once perceived as being only a pastime or hobby today is branded an admirable, home office career enabling those of all ages to make millions. Funnily enough, the expansion of the internet does not seem to instil fear, either. You’d think that working on a universal platform like the worldwide web, a location where literally anyone can see what you are up to as well as contact and even track you down, holds much smaller significance in our minds today than security ever did in our parents’ generation.

Even after I have spent the last seven years trying my best to control my own finances, I admit that I am still struggling to make the ends meet sometimes. What I have learned, though, is that the old saying ‘it’s the journey, not the destination’ goes a long way when it comes to working; I would very much feel happier living off pasta and beans a little longer in favour of abolishing this used underwear craze. I am not saying that doing so is not valuable work experience, but maybe consider cutting elsewhere to save that ever escaping dignity of yours.

Doing somewhat unpleasant jobs whilst studying is part of the deal but first you should ask yourself whether it’s really worth it – or should you first just learn to manage the money better?