Blog post

Money talks

By Kieya Tabingo - 7 September 2021

Money Worries

I don’t feel comfortable talking about money – yikes. That’s the reason why when I went to university, I had no clue what was good value for money, and how to save properly. I was on two sides of the spectrum – meaning I was too good at saving money, and then I would spend too much in one go.

What do I mean by that? I didn't allow myself to go overspend a single penny in a week. I was scared to use money because let’s face it, the majority of us, when coming to uni, get a student loan, and when that loan hits for the first time, it feels surreal. It feels like it's money you can do anything with. Whilst some students spend their money in the first week of freshers, I was freaking out, so much that I was paralysed. I did not leave my room, I did not like the fact I had this money. It was like an out-of-body experience. 

I think it partially came from when I was in sixth form, I was told to have a certain attitude about money, always be serious about it, don’t spend it all in one go. I mean how many stories were we told about that guy or girl who spent all their terms maintenance loan by buying everyone drinks in the bar? I was petrified! However, I think overspending stories have been exacerbated so much that they’ve become myths of some sort.

Learning as we go

I look at it this way, for most this is the first time being away from home, in the past we have been so used to having everyday things bought for us. So how did I get away from the mindset of counting pennies? I started to make a list of things I had to pay for, either in the week or the month.

From there I split up my food allowances, travel, bills, and insurances, etc. What I found useful was to withdraw my weekly allowance so I could visualise the money that I was spending, and by the end of the week, if I still had a couple of pounds left, I stored it away. In the summer of 2018, I was saving up to go to America, so every week on top of that I would withdraw £20 and store it away. I always thought out of sight, out of mind. I saved up almost £500 using that method!

After I traveled to America, where I spent a lot of my savings. I embarked on my study abroad in the Netherlands. While I was in Europe, I had this perception that when I saw the euro sign in front of items, I immediately thought the item was cheaper than back home. So, I deluded myself living like that for the first three months I was there, by the end of the experience I was scraping together money to get home.

A very useful tip to remember when you’re going abroad is to spend wisely and buy an international-friendly card. I don’t know if it was laziness or ignorance that kept me from getting one, but I might have saved myself so much money.

Another thing I didn’t consider is that for every transaction, I would be charged a fee which I think was around £3.99. I don’t want to even do the overall math on that one. Definitely, think about getting a cash card. I’ve asked around my friends at university who use cash cards like Monzo or Revolut. Apparently, they can compute how much you can spend on that week and how much you have overall if you go over your weekly budget.

Lessons learned

As I moved into my third year I began to talk to other students about their spending habits, not only students at Derby but those who lived in other cities too. How did they manage to keep themselves out of their overdrafts? The majority said they worked, they found a part-time job, or worked freelance to earn that extra cash.

The University of Derby offers lots of work placements and opportunities to take part in through their Careers and Employment Service. It’s down to you to get involved and work with them to find something that is right for you, but they are will be there to support you along the way.

Let me summarise

Managing money is unique to every person. You’ve been given this money for everything that you need, for anything that you want. So I can’t tell you set aside £20 for food because maybe you like to eat out, or you don’t like to eat that much. That goes for nightlife, travel, clothes; we’re all different. But one thing we all need to do is - don’t forget to pay for your accommodation first. That’s pretty important when living in halls or in a house.

So my overall top tips when it comes to budgeting:

You might want to chat about this topic with a wider range of people. Our Unibuddy platform allows you to connect with current students, to ask all the questions you need to help you feel settled before joining university. 

About the author

Kieya Tabingo
Third year student in International Tourism Management

I'm a third year International Tourism Management student at the University of Derby. I'm a little bit from everywhere, and your amateur connoisseur of food and travel.