keeping happy whilst being a (broke) student

As a student who went from a 3 day week job getting paid weekly, to not receiving a regular income and draining my overdraft like there’s no tomorrow, it’s definitely fair to say it’s been a bit of a struggle.

In my gap year before uni I became really independent and hardly ever had to ask my parents for a bit of money. A lot of my friends found themselves having more money than before they came to uni with their loans and whatnot, but because of the whole student finance system, all my loan + more has to go on my accommodation so now, at the age of 19 and nearly 20, I have to do the dreaded phone call of “muuuuuuummmm…everyone’s going out tonight but I have no money to even buy one slice of bread and I’ll be really lonely and cry myself to sleep…” at least once a month. Thankfully, I have wonderfully generous parents (“I wish we were millionaires so we could give you all our money” – actual quote from my mother which I will hold to her when she wins the lottery), so I don’t have much to worry about, but I do feel like a money thief most of the time.

Being a student who finds the majority of my happiness in going clubbing/pubs/doing anything that involves alcohol, being bankrupt doesn’t bode well as Oceana believe they can charge extortionate amounts for a glass of lemonade with a centi-liter of vodka in. This led me to try and think of things I like doing that make me happy, yet don’t involve spending money…

1) Blogging

I started blogging over a year ago but soon drifted away until the beginning of this year. I became a contributing writer for my university’s PR blog, (which I am now the Editor of!!!) which re-ignited my love for writing in a chatty, fun style. Skip forward to a sleepless night in which I was drawn to Word Press and here I am! When I was younger, I always wanted to be an author but I have the attention span of a goldfish (3 hours in a row at uni kills me) so gave up that dream pretty soon. But with blogging, I can write a post that has no restricted word limit which means my attention span can hold out. Keep an eye out in Waterstones in 20 years time though…

2) Song Writing 

I’m from a very musical family (which sometimes feels like I’m in the middle of The Sound of Music) so have grown up around a guitar, a piano and car journeys where each sister is listening to their own ipods and singing  along- must have been torture for my parents. I never had any guitar or piano lessons but decided to teach myself so I had something to sing with. I’m no pro, but it gives me a good platform to song write to – something I love. I write songs that relate to my own situations and was recently looking over some songs I wrote over a year ago – it’s crazy how much things change. So, on yet another sleepless night, I got my guitar and wrote the beginnings of a song which I’m still working on. I find song-writing a great way to chill out as well as a way to totally clear my head and forget everything else going on in there.

3) Charity Shopping 

Thankfully I’ve always been a keen charity shopper – the thought of someone else wearing my clothes (or as I frequently get told “someone could have died wearing that”) doesn’t really bother me. Neither does the fact that the majority of stuff is granny-ish – I love that kinda thing. Since being in Southampton, I’ve only treated myself to the odd clothing purchase, a couple of things from Primark but, because of how cheap it is, the charity shops have lured me in. I bought a denim jacket for £4 at the beginning of the year, and it has served me very well. My biggest tip is go to towns or villages that are a bit wealthier, as this means you may come across the odd higher end dress or coat in a charity shop for about £20 cheaper!

I know it seems ‘money brings happiness’, and if I’m being honest, it does – not having to stress about money obviously will make you happier, but there are plenty of free/cheap ways to still enjoy your time as a student. But, on a bad day, Lambrini is only £1.99…

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