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There is a wealth of information about postgraduate finance out there (including on our very own website – check out our other articles about funding right here), but there are a few things that nobody really talks about when it comes to the subject of funding a postgraduate degree. Whether it’s the often unconsidered role of part-time work in helping to bolster cost of living reserves to the surprising joy of a neatly designed spreadsheet, a few topics will frequently fly under the radar. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of seven things concerning postgraduate finance that you won’t read in any official leaflets or application forms.
This may sound obvious, but unlike your undergraduate degree, there is a much larger focus on you figuring out how to afford your postgraduate education. From knowing which postgraduate loan you can apply for to finding out where you can get additional funding, it really is your responsibility to source, apply for and/or fork out for your postgraduate course fees. Luckily, we can help with finding scholarships and bursaries!
If you’re coming back to education after being in gainful employment, you’re in for a shock to the system. Maybe you’ve been living at home with your parents, or you’re used to getting bonuses in your highflying sales job – either way, having cash to splash leads you merrily into the habit of regularly spending on little luxuries. But on a student budget, these habits must be forcefully eradicated, because textbooks just love disposable income. Seriously. They just gobble it up.
If you’re not already working, it might be time to dig out your best 'I’m highly employable' suit and badger local shop owners until they give you some form of paid employment. All those extra little outgoings add up so even if you’re lucky enough to have low living costs you’ll very likely need to be earning whilst studying. A steady part-time job that’s not too stressful can help balance your work schedule too.
We don’t recommend full-time work at the same time as doing a full-time postgrad course though, unless you want to spontaneously combust before your first set of exams are over.
Go to: Read more about Balancing Work and Study on an MBA
Here’s a positive note to keep all you future postgraduates reading this article about how little money postgraduate students have: The less cash in your pocket, the less inclined you are to go on shopping trips because it will only make you grumpy having to window-shop for all the nice things you can’t buy.
The same goes for – well, almost anything actually. If there’s an entrance fee, rule it out. Staying in is the new going out anyway! Who needs the real world when there’s such a thing as Netflix? So now you don’t have to bother with that full and expensive social calendar, guess what you can do instead with all that spare time? Visit the library! You can thank me later.
Get your thesaurus and start finding extremely persuasive adjectives that will convince everyone exactly how important your contribution to the world of [insert obscure subject matter here] is. This is especially applicable to research-based master’s and PhDs because you may have to get funding bodies to back your thesis proposal in order to be accepted onto the course, or at least to be able to get started on the work itself.
Excel could be your new best friend. Learn to start thinking ahead and you will be budgeting like a pro in no time. Making a list of all your outgoings and working out the difference between that and what is going into your bank account is a crucial first step towards good money management skills.
After that, keep up to date records of your main sources of income and expenditure. Seeing it all on paper (or computer screens, more likely) will stop you from being able to lull yourself into a false sense of “my student loan comes in tomorrow, it’s all fine” and therefore stop you getting into more debt.
Sadly, some treats that you really like, but don’t really need, will have to go. Visit different supermarkets to find which ones are the cheapest for various items, replace shop-bought sandwiches with packed lunches and save up for things you want rather than buying them immediately. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you start to love seeing those savings trickle in.
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