Welcome to my blog! What was initially the perfect way to procrastinate has actually started to excite me a bit, so here it goes! I’m a second year Economics student at the University of Birmingham, and at this point in my degree, I am bored of having next to no work to do, unmotivated and want to earn some money. In fact, the only reason I have enough money to get through the term is because I spend my evenings writing blog posts, trying to think up business plans or sitting in trying to work out why I don’t have enough money, instead of going out.
That being said, I was clever enough to not have gone out at the beginning of the year and got a job. Incredibly forward thinking, I know! I’ve had a few weekends work here and there, and pissed that money away, so I’m trying to change my attitude to money. I’ve invested some savings, I’ve tried most of the ways that the World Wide Web suggests for making some money while being a student, even survey answering (that was a sad evening), and I have very little to show for it.
So, in this blog, I will be sharing my journey through the low earning world of student money-making schemes, alongside my views on university, money itself, gambling and many other obscure topics that seem to be taking over my life at the moment! I hope you enjoy coming along with me through the ever-interesting lifestyle of university when you can’t be bothered to work and hopefully you might learn a thing or two from my nonsense ramblings.
I’ve said it many times, my overall life goal is to run my own successful business. One thing I’ve learnt is that to achieve your goals, every decision you make needs to gear you towards that goal. It made me think, how are my decisions being affected by the changing world of the entrepreneur?
To begin with, during my lifetime, the world has been innovating and pushing us into a new age of technology. More and more investment has been put into the ever improving world of tech and media, and with that, the business creators of the world have had to gear their ideas towards this industry. The dot com bubble gives us a good example of this. Just by adding “.com” to your company’s name would boost the value by, on average, 74%. This pushed entrepreneurs in one lucrative direction, and tech has been taking over ever since.
“So many dot-com companies were formulated on air”
One massive part of starting your own business is the marketing of it all. It is impossible to go anywhere without letting people know that your brand not only exists but is the thing they need. As media and technology has changed and improved, marketing has had to change. The world of social media marketing is now huge, as well as the media shift from TV to the Internet, meaning your YouTube ads will now get more hits than any TV ad. You can even tailor your adverts to be seen by your target market, and by rethinking your whole marketing strategy to truly take advantage of the modern changes, it can make your whole business stand out without much effort.
One issue that I’ve been struggling with is that, nowadays, there is a shift in where your initial capital needs to be directed. Your first port of call is the internet. Your social media presence is now vital for business to be done. Your network and contacts are also massively important. Your website needs to be professional and never crash, to maintain a high quality reputation.
Not only that, but everything you have needs to go into the business. Whether this is time and money, blood, sweat and tears, or all of that combined, you need to use every financial source and creative fibre in your body to make sure your business, your baby, is successful. This isn’t a change by any means, but it’s a fundamental truth that needs to be accepted.
The business world is becoming more and more ruthless. Especially in this social media age, everyone is now in total competition for the limelight, with followers being the new currency. To become a successful entrepreneur, you need a chip on your shoulder, a “no fucks given” attitude and thick skin. Your success is going to be more broadcast than ever. You will be ever judged for the ways you tackle business, you will have people trying to undermine you at every turn. If you can’t take it all, and then continue to improve, then maybe this world isn’t going to be for you.
With all the changes going on in business in general, I think my own generation have been put at an advantage. We’re living in a time where there are a million different avenues for you to pursue in business. The new entrepreneur can be a YouTuber who has cultivated their own brand through their videos. The new entrepreneur can start their own sports team and monetize it in a variety of ways. The new entrepreneur can monetize themselves, alongside their company. If you don’t put yourself out there, you’re not going to beat anyone who does, because at this point, every minute you’re not broadcasting your own content, you’re losing out on valuable experience.
My advice would be to take advantage of every platform that we’re fortunate enough to have access to. On top of that, listen to people of all ages, reap the benefits of their knowledge in business, and keep them close. You will learn a phenomenal amount from this. Finally, never stop practicing, and never stop having ideas. The more ideas you throw at the wall, the more chance that one will eventually stick. Don’t stop trying, and every time you fail, get up quicker, because that’s the only way to succeed.
Summertime during university has got to be one of the best times to get your rest and relaxation in. From June to the end of September, you’ve got months to holiday, enjoy yourself and catch up on all the sleep you’ve been missing at uni. However, despite the belief that we’re not quite out there in the real world yet, a little bit of responsibility now comes into play.
Naturally, I’m talking about financial responsibility and the ability to make a good career choice early on. The question is, what’s the right balance for working over some of the last long summers before we’re thrust into the daunting world of work.
I tend to go into summer in typical student fashion, broke. Working part time has never been something I’ve enjoyed, and so I tend to earn just enough to see me through the summer and enjoy myself for the rest of it. This year, however, responsibility has hit me like a tonne of bricks and I’ve got myself an internship.
Going from last year, working two days every three weeks, to this year, working a 9-5 every day for 8 weeks is going to be a big shock. Finding the perfect balance for how much fun to have compared to work is difficult when the only to do after work is get an early night so you can be in early the next morning.
The idea that we’re preparing ourselves for the rat race before we’ve started shows how society is pushing us away from our play-filled university lifestyle as quickly as possible, and before you know it you forget the sort of balance that you were looking for in the first place. Despite this, if we never move out of that university mindset, we’d never function in the working world afterwards.
So, I’d say, especially in your later years of university, your summers are no longer your breaks, they’re your biggest chance to prove yourself and learn about yourself. Giving up some fun times at this age will mean that you can learn what jobs you might enjoy, you can learn whether you want to create your own job or work for someone else, and most importantly, you can determine how you will enjoy your work.
One key factor of allowing yourself to experience the world of work through an internship or a part time job is understanding how you work, and what you would enjoy doing for, and brace yourself for the scary part, the rest of your life. By putting yourself out there and learning about yourself NOW, you can make sure you never waste a moment of your life. This is absolutely vital, and no one wants to be in a situation where their job is a week of pain before the shallow relief of the weekend. Don’t go into a job where you’re yearning for Friday. Start learning about yourself now, and yearn for Monday.
“At its basic form, if you genuinely celebrate Friday, you need to rethink your entire fucking game. You need to rethink life.”
Giving up a small amount of playtime to work could help make every day at work your playtime. Use the summers wisely and prove yourself to everyone.
As I presume has become apparent, my main goal in life is to have financial freedom and to be running my own successful business. For some reason, I can’t imagine spending my whole life working for someone else, and that lifestyle definitely doesn’t appeal to me. So, despite my occasional foray into the Netflix abyss, I try my best to procrastinate in the most productive way possible.
My first way is what I call my ideas page. I have a document which I like to add to, delete things from, and generally let my imagination run free on. Any ideas for the future that pop into my head go on this page, whether it is a brand I want to build, a company that I want to start or a book I want to write. A few snippets from my own are potential YouTube channels to start, blog post ideas, Business plans both in progress and finished and much more. This helps me withdraw from any exam stress I may be feeling, it seems productive, and it helps keep my brain stimulated.
“Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.”
Alfred North Whitehead
Another thing I have been doing more recently is reading. I don’t read fiction books anymore, they don’t interest me as much as they did when I was younger. If anything, reading non-fiction has expanded my imagination more than any fiction book could. It helps me focus on realistic things that current sit in the realm of imagination. Check out my previous post on my favourite books I’ve read recently for more of an insight: https://theuniversitymoneymaker.blog/2019/03/27/my-top-3-books-that-changed-my-views-of-money-and-business/ . Unfortunately, a habit I’ve fallen into is filling up my Amazon basket with books I want to read, without the ability to buy them. So if anyone’s willing to donate me £63 for my first batch of books from my basket, it would be most welcome.
I also like to tell myself that writing a blog post is productive. It’s something to do when I’m not in the mood to do proper work. In a way, I see it as practicing for the future. Trying to build up a skill in writing can never be bad, surely. Especially in a way where you are forced to be engaging. Where revision can be tedious, writing this blog never is. Whether 150 people read it, or 3 people read it, I’m slowly building an ability to be engaging, honest and entertaining in my writing. A virtual gift of the gab, if you will.
Finally, what I consider the most important step of productively procrastinating, is doing something you enjoy. All these aforementioned activities are enjoyable to me, but I’m also talking about leisure. Going out and playing football for an hour, going for a walk, listening to a podcast or basically doing anything you enjoy for a short period will boost your mood and if that’s not productive, I don’t know what is. Get outside though, because anything outside will boost your mood more than sitting inside.
Something like Netflix just makes you feel like you’ve wasted your time. If you can take one thing from reading this post, make it this: Either get your mind moving or your body moving, otherwise you’re not being productive.
Student loan arrival day is an exciting day for many of us. No longer are we eating sawdust from under the fridge, and we can now finally go for that drink that we wanted to have 3 weeks before. It can be both exciting and dangerous. Yes, we can go back to our previous standard of living, but sometimes we can go a bit over the top, buying more clothes, beers or whatever you like to indulge in than we should.
Regardless, having a student loan, if we ignore the crippling debt it puts us in, is quite a comfortable position to be in. However, there are more sensible ways to use it that you may not have thought of yet, and my plan is to teach you how to make it last a bit longer while still maintaining that quality of life you enjoy.
Step 1: Use the quantity!
Some of us very rarely have the quantity of money available to us that student finance provides us with. I, myself, use it to cover both living costs and my rent. Naturally, I put all my rent to one side, so I know how much I have left to spend for the rest of the term. What I can then do is put a proportion of that extra money into a venture that will make me more on top.
For example, one of the best times to get started with Matched Betting is when the loan comes in. Bet365 offer a bet £100, get an £100 free bet. Matched betting with this can make you £70 with very little work, but it requires high initial liability. Use this newfound quantity, and you’ll be glad you did!
Step 2: Earn with your rent!
Having the money for your rent is obviously vital, but when the loan installments come in, you may be left with 3 or 4 months of rent that aren’t needed for at least a month. Utilise this time and spare capital to invest! Being able to put £2000 into a stocks and shares ISA and investing it carefully could bring in 2-3% over a short term period. Considering when it sits in your bank account, you earn 0.5% (most likely) in a year, investing it could make you some short term profit that you can then use to improve your quality of life for the rest of the term.
Other investment forms can also be used, but REMEMBER, EDUCATE YOURSELF FIRST. Investing always has risk, and the more you educate yourself, the less risk is involved.
Step 3: Budget!
Budgeting sounds boring, but it can seriously improve your overall quality of life during term time. It can help you avoid overspending at the beginning of the term, and can provide you with more ability to go out and have fun towards the end of term. This is especially important during exam period, the shortest term and the most available loan. Overspending during the term might cause you to lose out on doing certain things in the summer! Money is never worth wasting, so set yourself a weekly budget, practice as much self discipline as you can, and stick to it. It might just settle your mind financially while improving your bank balance at the same time.
Your student loan, despite the high interest rate and debt following, can be a very useful asset. Don’t waste it, and more importantly, use it to its full potential. It’s easy to do, and doesn’t take much time. Any of these three steps can help, and altogether they can do a world of good.
As an Economics student, exam time is rather important. 7 exams spread over a month wouldn’t have seemed so bad during A levels or GCSEs, but when the rest of my peers tend to have 2-5 exams and all finish half a month before me, it makes work all the more depressing. This also isn’t helped by all the fun plans being made at times when I still have 3 exams left. If anything it should make me work harder, but the true effect it has is to feed my procrastination.
Procrastination is a funny thing. There’s actually a model based around procrastination by George Akerlof, a famous economist. It, in short terms, tells us that we each have an individual “procrastination coefficient”. This determines how much we will procrastinate and how much welfare we will gain or lose based on this coefficient. If you’re interested in the paper, click here. Unfortunately for most of us, our level of procrastination gives us a massive loss of welfare. To put it in example form, we stress more, achieve less and generally damage our mental health through our own inability to start working.
My own experience this year has not been fun. Understanding that I have 7 exams gives me enough stress as it is, but it’s being made even worse by both my procrastination and outlandishly poor attention span. Hearing people talking about their full day in the library is an impossibility in my eyes, as anything over 3 hours seems like a hugely productive day. Regardless, it is self inflicted pain.
Interestingly, I think exam period as a whole gives me a completely different outlook on my course and degree as a whole. It makes me realise that perhaps I didn’t choose the best course for me. It makes me realise that even the bits I find interesting are still a chore. It teaches me about the ways I deal with stress (in short, I deal with stress badly). Finally, exam period reminds me what I have to lose.
I always just made the assumption that I would leave uni with at least a 2:1. I’m very aware I’m capable of doing it, but I simply find it so monotonous and boring. Up until now, I didn’t really have much to lose if I didn’t perform well in my degree. I’m aware that if I needed to, I could do my own thing and be okay, regardless of degree. Now, however, I have a potential job with a good wage in my sights, an internship and so much more opportunities to lose out on. This is what exam period has done to me, and it has only just begun.
Another of the joys of exam season is the incessant moaning and/or boasting about how much work each person has done. It really should make no difference to one another how much work everyone does. Everyone has different work ethics, and everyone takes in information at different rates. You’d think this sort of petty childish behaviour wouldn’t exist at university, but it does and all it does is put everyone in the surrounding area in a bad mood. Who needs it.
Despite all my negativities, exam period can bring out the best in people. Seeing everyone back at uni, smiling through the stresses alongside me, does improve my mood. It’s always nice to see you’re not alone in a difficult situation, so with that, I wish everyone the best for exams. We’re all in the same boat, and we’ll all get through it together.
“Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today”
Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Unimoneymaker for all the key updates!
Society is the building block from which many of our opinions come from. It’s what we’ve been raised from, and there’s nothing wrong with basing your opinions on the environment you’ve been raised in or from the social norms you’ve been told to follow. However, I think, now more than ever, the society we’ve built many of our opinions on is becoming archaic, and our points of view are becoming outdated. And with that said, let’s talk about friendships and relationships.
I see this in the baby boomer generation a lot. A consistent loyalty to people who do nothing good for you. They are not even convenient to keep around, but simply the length of time they have been a “friend” (at a stretch) means that they are still firmly in the picture. I think society pushes us into this level of loyalty from an early age. We were all presumably taught to stick by our friends and look out for them. The problem with this unerring loyalty is that it maintains when those friends give up on us. It is of course difficult to simply get rid of a friend you have known for years, but many times it is the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, society shapes our human nature massively. This is why, often, even when our friends are not treating us as such, we continue to stick by them. Many people could be treated like dirt and still keep the person doing so around for “convenience”. What I struggle to perceive is why we as humans are so opposed to change. Surely, if we think logically and take emotion out of the equation for 3 seconds, we will realise that we need to make a change of personnel for the betterment of our own lives.
We are very emotional. That’s why we are unable to do this, however beneficial it would be. Sometimes it is simply impossible to shut your emotions off for 3 seconds just to think logically. This is why toxic friendships exist, and our society continues to promote them. With social media thrown into the mix, we have the perfect recipe for the creation of toxic friendships. Well done, society.
Relationships often go a similar way. There are many toxic relationships that people fail to end due to the fact they are “not toxic enough”. By that, I mean 90% of the negative aspects are completely put by the wayside for the 10% of positive aspects. It’s not healthy, but it continues. You wonder why (according to the ONS) 42% of marriages end up in divorce. Society tells us that finding “the one” is the way forward, and that any sort of other way forward is wrong. In reality, it’s almost seen as more commendable to get married and then divorced than never getting married in the first place.
It is still somewhat frowned upon to not want to get married. Less so than in the past, but the condescension still exists. This shows how much of our opinions are based on other people in society. On top of this, we are basically taught daily that everything that anyone else does is going to affect us. This means that we get upset with people who don’t agree with us or do the things we want them to do.
There’s no doubt society gives us outdated expectations and opinions. Maybe if we made our own minds up instead of letting every other aspect of life make our decisions, life might all be that bit easier.
To say that the media has had a mass shift in recent times is an understatement. The television empire is slowly falling , caused by the monumental rise of streaming services, most prominently Netflix, alongside our generational obsession with social media and YouTube. This is “New Media”, the overbearing super power that is overtaking the traditional media within marketing, viewing figures and changing the way that millennials are thinking about jobs.
According to a survey conducted by the Sun (dubious, I know, but still reputable enough), 75% of Gen Z kids list “YouTuber” or “Vlogger” as their most desired career. To many of the baby boomer generation, this seems ridiculous. How can you make money doing that? “Impossible,” they say, “get a real job.” It’s a common thought of the older generation. What many of them fail to understand is that our new media is a fountain of wealth just waiting to be tapped, and I’m going to tell you why.
YouTube plays into the hands of our capitalist society beautifully. The ability to put hours of advertising in front of people of all ages brings about a new way of marketing. The growth of many social media marketing firms proves how vital this is in modern business. This means there is now millions of pounds being thrown towards YouTube, and consequently, YouTubers. That’s the first source of money to be tapped. Big YouTubers who bring in the most views get the most money, obviously. This trickles down to smaller channels, with shares of money being given out based on channel viewing figures. Straightforward, right?
The thing you might forget, however, is that this is not just a source of income for individuals. This is a business tool that cannot be ignored. Both a source of income and untold marketing potential for your business, what’s not to like? You don’t get that same exposure with TV, and you definitely don’t get the customisation of both your adverts and content with traditional media. It’s something you truly can’t ignore. Regardless of whether you watch YouTube or not, realising it is more than just an entertainment platform is the first step to reaping the benefits from it.
Now, the same applies to social media in general. Social media advertising is the one way to tailor your business exposure directly to your target audience. Everyone is on either Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or a combination of the three. That means you have three platforms to exploit, and the benefits are huge.
Having a big social following can open a huge number of doors, from sponsorships (think Love Island stars Instagram pages) to general fame and fortune. Just think how often we hear the word “influencer” nowadays, and realise that despite the lack of faith that often comes from the boomers, this is now a real job, and a worthwhile skill. The fact that people still don’t make an effort with social media within business is farcical, and those companies will be the first to die if no change is made.
Finally, I want to talk about Netflix. This is less money related, but it’s interesting nonetheless. 140 million hours of Netflix are watched, on average, everyday. This platform has taken over the world’s screens, and changed our viewing trends. The binge watcher was born with Netflix, and everyone has the potential to binge watch from time to time. Funding shifted from TV to Netflix, famous faces like David Attenborough and Ricky Gervais are moving as well.
We all love Netflix, it’s a great innovation, and if anything shows the revolution of “New Media” then it’s this. I think it’s fantastic. It puts media into the hands of the people and pushes the idea of freedom of expression. New Media has taken over, and you better get on board, otherwise you’ll be left behind.