10 financial mistakes I made as a student

When I moved out for university, I truly embraced my freedom (I’m South-Asian, I don’t need to tell you I grew up in a strict household, do I?) but that came at a cost as I made and learnt from many financial mistakes along the way.

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I didn’t budget

I didn’t have any kind of picture of what I was earning and spending. The only thing I made sure not to do was go beyond my arranged overdraft (into an un-arranged one).

By not having a budget, I missed the opportunity to track my spending and actually try and save—for any kind of emergency. I had consistent part-time jobs as well so bearing in mind how much I managed to earn, and the fact I spent almost all of it, is a hard pill to swallow.

I didn’t plan for large purchases

The is one of the result of not having a budget—not planning enough for yearly events, especially holidays, meant I was always using my overdraft. Something that I only just managed to pay off two years after graduating.

This created so much daily anxiety while booking holidays (that I couldn’t afford) and subsequently meant I always had to work around exams and not really take any time off, as I always needed to earn enough money to bounce out of the overdraft before bills came around. Not fun.

I misused my overdraft

used it as extra money instead of loan and led to overspending and living above my means, mainly due to the previous point

I didn’t utilise credit cards and cash-back

I missed out on pretty decent opportunities to save a bit here and there because of the fact that I was spending so much and not doing it efficiently, through things like cash-back on foodshops and bills. I missed out on earning points through spending on certain credit cards .

I always thought of credit cards negatively and didn’t see the opportunities that came with them for when spending is necessary.

I didn’t invest 😰

This is personally huge regret of mine. If I’d budgeted and put aside even £50 a month, it meant I would’ve started investing so, so early. Timing, when investing is the most important concept – not the amount of money you have necessarily.

But, as the age old saying goes…

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

I was socialising when I couldn’t afford to

This is all down to not being able to say no to bars/pubs/clubs which is something I struggled with even post-university. But looking back, going out 2-3 times a week instead of 5 (!) will not make you less ‘cool’.

You literally won’t miss out on anything because no one will even remember the nights out. I’m telling you this as a fact.

I bought things because they were cheap  

The phrase “I’m not rich enough to buy cheap things” comes to mind for this one. Buying things that are cheap is a habit I have struggled with for a long time and not just as a student.

There is, however, the paradox of socio-economic unfairness. If you can’t afford to buy better quality things, I am not shaming you. Equally, if you shouldn’t be spending money on cheap things when you don’t need them, that’s where the financial behaviour could be improved. As a university student, I was earning extra money through part-time jobs and still wasting money on things in the sale—things I didn’t need in the first place, which didn’t last a great amount of time anyway.

This leads me nicely onto the next point of…

I needed a new outfit every time I went out

Needing new items for every occasion really drained my bank account and squeezed that overdraft, hard.

Needless to say, re-wearing outfits is definitely the cooler way to do things now.

I spent money impulsively

This was money spent going on pointless shopping days out with friends and impulse buying things, including food and drink – for the sake of it.

This is literally just a bad case of unplanned spending and a result of not budgeting. If you budgeted, you’d know that if you went out you shouldn’t really spend more than X or eat out somewhere expensive.

I was always the host

Having wholesome dinners in flat-shares was cut and definitely a great way to make memories and spend time.

But I would always end up buying all the ingredients for a dinner, and always choose to have people round for dinner. This was definitely a me problem and not common, but man I was basically feeding families on a student budget 😮‍💨

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