Staying afloat during exams

Monday, April 24th, 2017
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Keeping an eye on your cash can be a tall order when you’re panicking about making the grades – but sadly the rest of your life doesn’t hit pause just because you’ve got exams. You’ll still have living costs to cover, but less time to earn any cash! Naturally, staying afloat during exams can feel daunting.

Actually, it doesn’t have to be a ‘mare. A bit of planning and some smart strategies can get you through the exam period (or any time you can’t work as much as you’d like). Here’s the cheat sheet!

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1. Bankroll yourself

Keeping an eye on cash flow (how much you’ve got coming in and what you spend it on) makes sense any time of year, but it especially pays off during exam season. Once you know how much you’ll need for bills, food and frolics, get your hustle on ahead of time so you don’t need to worry about working once exams land.

Bag extra shifts, grab some extra work through Catapult: just make sure to put your earnings away until you need ‘em. Definitely check out passive income as well – i.e., things that give you income without sucking up loads of time and effort. Selling photos and illustrations through stock libraries (try EyeEm or Alamy) or print-on-demand markets (Cafepress, Zazzle) are prime ways to start!

Top tip: if you don’t need all of your maintenance loan right now, bank as much as you can to tide you over during lean times.

2. Pay up front for essentials

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Paying in advance for stuff you need to get by makes good budgeting sense – and it means one less thing to stress over when exams hit. We’re also talking season travel tickets or even cinema and PAYG gym passes: things that get you around or give you things to do so you’re not just sobbing under a pile of books 24/7.

Alternatively, you might want to review your rolling subscriptions and pause any you won’t have time for (or just won’t be able to afford).

3. Use prepaid cards to stay on track

Most folk know how much to spend to stay on top of their budget … but some of us find it harder to just stop splurging! If that’s your weakness, prepaid cards can be your secret weapon. They work just like debit cards (so use ‘em online or for contactless payments), but only let you spend the cash you’ve loaded on to them. There’s a growing spread of options: try Monzo, Revout or Loot for starters.

4. Ditch impulse buys

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Precisely planning out your income/outgoings and then bodging it with a mammoth shopping spree is kinda like snaffling the last parachute on the plane and then putting your fist through the canopy! Take precautions if you need to: give your gadgets to someone else for safekeeping, or lock your cards away (or stick with a prepaid card to limit the damage).

5. Manage your stress

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‘Looking after yourself’ isn’t a sign of weakness: it’s strategy. There are loads of ways to manage your stress, stay sane and get through your exams in one piece (and there are tons of apps that make it almost effortless). Try to get enough sleep, food, fun and exercise, and the rest will take care of itself, leaving you less likely to blow a brain cell (or your budget). You know it makes sense!

This was a guest blog written by Ruth Bushi, an editor at Save the Student. Featuring the kind of straight-talking advice you won’t get at school, the site has everything you need to know about managing money without the migraines: student finance explained, insider info on careers, plus ways to save and scrimp without the stress. To stay up-to-day with the latest student finance advice, like Save the Student on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

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