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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.

Your Student Loan and How to Reap the Benefits

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.

Rumour has it, I buy too many pints when the loan comes in

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.

Good luck to everyone during this exam period!!

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Procrastination and the joys of Exam Season

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.

What I’ve got to lose

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”

Thomas Jefferson

Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Unimoneymaker for all the key updates!

Societal Pressures: Friendships and Relationship

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.

New Media: Putting Media Money into the Hands of the People

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.

YouTube is taking over the media world

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?

Susan Wojcicki (YouTube CEO) has created an unbelievable platform for both individuals and businesses

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.

Societal Pressures: Education

There is no doubt that society as a whole pushes the younger generation on a certain route through life. Whether this is because it is the correct way on average to go through life or not is the best question to answer. Societal pressures do change with the times, but do they change enough and do the life routes we get pushed down really our us in the best stead for our future?

So, to start what I hope will be a series of posts about the many pressures that society provide us with, let’s talk about education:

You hear a lot of people saying that school does not teach the right things. It doesn’t teach you about paying taxes and it doesn’t teach you about real life lessons. Even sex education is lacking and with recent removals of lessons about gay rights shows that perhaps we are educationally not living in the 21st century in some respects.

I agree with this point of view in terms of financial education as well. With money being almost everything in life these days, surely it would make sense to have a financially literate younger generation so that they can boost our economy from their own homes. This does give me a reason to believe that society pushes us into an education system that is not necessarily best for us.

Financial Education is one of the things you MUST teach yourself

Now, I am not saying that we shouldn’t educate ourselves. Of course not, given I preach the idea of education every single time I write. However, what I am saying is that the education system has not adapted to the changing ways of the world, and many of the richest people in the world are those who taught themselves after dropping out of college or university. Surely this says something about the way education works, and how ambition and experience are perhaps the better qualities to foster than simply grades.

I think what has been drilled into our heads from the moment we could walk and talk was the idea of following the standard path:

  1. Do well in school
  2. Get good grades
  3. Get into University
  4. Do well at University
  5. Get a good job

Many of the older generation tried their best to follow this path (perhaps excluding University, which is more available now) and it has worked well for them. Pushing us to follow this path is definitely well intentioned, it worked for them so it will work for us is the idea.

The problem is, we live in a completely different age now. Society is changing at a faster rate than ever before, and more of us want to create our own jobs, instead of just following a prescribed by the elders passage. Despite this, we tend to need to follow the path at least to a certain point. It’s difficult to get a job nowadays without the piece of paper from university, or at least some good A-levels.

You can take the apprenticeship route, which honestly should be promoted more (in my opinion this could be the best way to improve your mental capacity), but this means you lose the opportunity to get a degree. The opportunity costs balance out in an annoying and time consuming way.

Now, on to Higher Education, the bane of many of our lives. In my opinion, the university experience is great, but the way of teaching is completely behind the times. We get pushed into what is meant to be the highest level of formal education we will experience, yet the course gets taught through straight speech with the occasional bit of class time.

In my course, we more or less get talked at for 2 hours per module per week, and then sit in silence during the class time as well. In the technological age, the main technology used in the classroom is POWERPOINT. Surely there is a better way to grab the attention and teach more tailored courses for our wants.

To conclude, Society definitely forces us down a path towards what is thought to be our optimal education. Some people really don’t suit this form, yet are punished for their inability to follow it. Once the education system adapts to suit more people, perhaps we could have more people enjoying their education, and thriving compared to their current struggles.

Motivating yourself to be brave with your money

Money is a scary thing to talk about, learn about and do anything new with. There’s no doubt some of us suffer from financial anxiety, it’s a classic problem. We are not taught what to do with our money, we only learn through experience. The majority of most of our experiences with money is spending it, and old habits die hard. Spending is okay, as long as the thing you spend your hard earned cash on is worthwhile.

Being brave with your money is all about making the right choices. It’s about investing your money, helping yourself out for the future instead of spending all your money on meaningless consumables or luxuries that you don’t need. It’s about being willing to learn instead of procrastinating, willing to put your money on the line to make more of it. Risk puts many of us off, and being brave is all about taking a risk. So let me tell you about risk:

Risk with regards to money can be controlled. Many people forget this and assume that investing is always going to be risky, or it’s for other people to do. You can start investing, with a small amount of education, earning 5% compared to 0.5% with very low risk. Simply starting to read up on the best investing funds, current business affairs and doing a bit of research goes a long way, and can start your journey to being brave with money.

Many of us assume we are not clever enough, not deserving enough or don’t have enough time to learn how to use our money to its best ability. Your money has the ability to multiply itself with just a tiny bit of coaxing from ourselves. However, we give all of these excuses. The first of the excuses is wrong, if you can read and ask questions, you’re clever enough. The second excuse is something you have to learn to get over. If you earn money, then you are deserving to more. You are deserving of the extra money your money could make you, obviously. I’m not endorsing theft. The third may seem the most logical and the most reasonable. In this respect, I follow the school of thought of many of the most successful people in the world. There are 24 hours in a day. The most successful are working for 16-18 hours of that day. Elon Musk worked for 23 hours a day in some of his pre-Paypal days. You have enough time.

The face of a workaholic

I’m not saying you need to work 16-18 hours a day. Of course I’m not, I’d be a hypocrite if I did. But if you truly want to start making more money, and most importantly start being brave with your money, put an hour aside every so often, whether it’s on a commute or in the evening before bed. This is enough time to have a read, learn what you want to invest in, learn the way investing works, open an account even, and if you do this every so often and take it one step at a time, you’ll get braver and braver with your money. You’ll build up your confidence the more you learn.

Learn and you will become confident. Confidence leads to bravery. Be brave with your money, you’ll thank me.

How do our habits lose us money?

I am a very habitual person. I try not to be as much as possible, but it’s so difficult to break many of my habits. Sometimes I just can’t help but bite my nails or lie in bed when I know I should be getting up and working. Habitual behaviour underpins many people’s lives, and however hard we try to break them, we often don’t. However, maybe if we discovered all the money-losing habits that plague many of us every day, we would focus everything on breaking them. It would just make financial chef.

Habit 1: Savings Accounts

Whether you count it as a habit or not, your 0.5% interest rate on your Flexi Saver Student Whatever Account is not helping you financially. Yet, so many students and even working adults continue to use them. If you had £1 million sat in one of these accounts for a year, and you had the option to earn either £5,000 from it or between £30,000 and £70,000, which would you choose?

If you say £5,000, you’re either joking or you need to really rethink what you’re doing with your money. Ditch the savings account, and start building your stocks, shares and funds portfolio. Educate yourself on the topic now, and make 5% growth your new habit. Today ends the days of your 0.5% growth.

Habit 2: “Dipping into” your savings

We’re all guilty of it, if we have savings available. It’s tough when the student loan runs out, and instead of deciding to go into the overdraft, or simply not doing fun things, we decide that £50 out of savings is worth it every single time. In first year alone, my savings built up over 18 years depleted by about 70%. In one year!

“I can afford it if I take £30 out of my savings. Worth it!”

Fresher Me pretending it’s worth it

The reason this is so bad for you financially is not just because you’re £50 worse off than before, but because that £50 turns to £250 very quickly. Without stopping the habit, it morphs into an ever growing beast that can’t be stopped. So here’s my tips for stopping it:

  1. Become less liquid
  2. Tight Restrictions
  3. Locked Pots

Becoming less liquid means putting your money somewhere where it takes a while to be withdrawn. My Hargreaves Lansdown stocks and shares ISA takes 3-5 working days to withdraw my money, and hence it’s not really worth taking the money out!

Tight restrictions refers to setting dates of withdrawal for yourself, so you do not dip into the savings you have. This could be active or passive restrictions, either putting a lock on your account, or simply saving towards something important, meaning taking money out is not worthwhile.

Locked pots are something many online banks such as Monzo use. Putting your money away in a “savings pot” which cannot be opened until either a certain date or amount of money is reached is a great way to stop you touching it. It also means that you are more likely to increase your savings as you will have to continue growing them to be able to withdraw. It is what I do as well as having a separate account and it works a charm.

The original Locked Pot

Habit 3: Being a procrastinator

“You may delay, but time will not.”

Benjamin Franklin

This one is the toughest and most broad habit. I’m not just talking about sitting around watching Netflix instead of working or reading or financially educating yourself. Even though that comes into it, it’s acceptable to not always be trying to learn something new. My biggest irritation is the “I’ve been wanting to do that for a while” procrastinator. They have the funds, they have the time, but by God do they have the excuses.

I’ve heard many people say to me that they’ve wanted to start matched betting for a while. It is unlikely they will ever start, as they are so caught up in this habitual excuse making that it seems to fizzle from their mind every time they actually have the spare time to start. I’ve heard the same with ISAs, the same with reading and learning in general, and it really gets on my nerves.

Train yourself to stop procrastinating. Put your full effort into it. Then get started. It’s worth it.

These habits damage our financial objectives and destinies every single day we keep them up. Habitual behaviour is one thing that really strikes people down without them even realising it, and it is up to you to notice and stop your bad habits, and start making the money that you deserve to be making. The idea of “opportunity cost” is important (meaning the benefits forgone of making one decision over another). How much are you missing out on by choosing to watch 3 hours of Netflix instead of spending 1 hour learning how to earn more with your money and 2 hours matched betting? Just think about that, then make a change.