This article was written by an external contributor. Georgia Beith talks us through what financial anxiety is and how to best deal with it while at university.
We all know that the stereotype of the stressed out, overworked, broke student is more than a little true, and for good reason. It is easy for people to write these feelings off as the over-dramatic concerns of students who are just shocked by their first experience of the ‘adult world’ – but financial anxiety is real, and it is not to be scorned at.
What is financial anxiety?
Financial anxiety is any kind of worry, stress or anxiety surrounding personal finances or money. Though not categorised as an illness or condition in its own right, it is recognised by psychologists as a phenomenon which can have a profoundly negative impact upon an individual’s health and well-being. Like any kind of stress, the effect on physical and mental health can be worse than expected.
What is particularly harmful about financial anxiety is that whether we like it or not, money plays a huge part in our daily lives. So if it because a source of anxiety for us, then it can lead to near constant worry.
Why does it affect students so much?
Maybe it has something to do with hearing about how our prospects look so much bleaker than our parents’ did. Or how the job market is flooded with thousands of people just like you, all looking for the same position. Or how property prices are rocketing sky high, and dreams of one-day owning our own homes are unfeasible.
Not to mention how tuition fees seem to be rising with each new year, and we are all destined to graduate dragging along a mountain of student debt. The future always seems less than bright, and it does paint a picture of a financial situation that isn’t so pretty.
Whether that is true or not, it is easy for students and young adults to get wrapped up in the idea that it’s hopeless and we’re destined to be broke forever. For the majority of us, university is our first experience of managing our own money. Even with the best support network, it’s easy to feel like you’ve been cast adrift at sea with scarcely a clue about what you’re doing.
Alongside being thrown into a completely unfamiliar environment with a whole host of other new situations, it is a steep learning curve indeed.
What can I do to make things a little easier?
Whether your finances are in dire need of some TLC, or it’s just your mind that needs to be put at ease, there is always something you can do.
Rework your budget
This is perfect if your spending habits could do with being put in check. Figuring out where your money is going and where it actually should be going is a good way of working out where you can cut out expenses.
In fact, just the process of getting everything written down and organised might help put some worries to bed, and perhaps help you see that you’re not doing so bad after all.
Talking about it
As with any problem, talking it out with someone – whether that be a friend or a family member – is always going to make your problems seem less insurmountable. A fresh pair of eyes might give you some new ideas and clever ways to save that you hadn’t thought of yourself.
Sourcing a little extra cash
If you don’t already have a part-time job, it is a really good way to supplement your student loan while you’re at university. While you are limited to 20 hours per week, no matter where you are in the country there will be something you can find.
On-campus jobs can often be tailored to fit around your studies, but most places will happily take on students for weekend and evening work. The extra disposable income certainly won’t go amiss. If things are really bad, you could research to see if your university offers any bursaries or scholarships that you’re eligible for.
Seeking help from your university
Most universities should offer some kind of formal support for dealing with your finances. This help is vital if you’re truly feeling as though you can’t cope with your current situation and are considering drastic measures like dropping out all together.
The last thing your university wants is for you to suspend your studies due to money problems, and they are there to guide you through.
The most important thing to remember is that it is one of the most natural things in the world to be a little concerned about money when you’re at university. In fact, a little worry can be a good thing, and can help you keep yourself in check. But excessive stress and panic doesn’t help anyone, it’ll only make you feel worse, and will stop university being something that should be enjoyable.
It is easy to feel like a failure if you’re not keeping on top of your finances, but the chances that you’re the only person you know who feels like this are incredibly low.