If you're planning to attend university in September, you should start thinking about your student budget now. You may think it is too early to start, however, this early preparation will allow you to begin university with no worries about anything other than where your lecture rooms are.
By creating a student budget, you can calculate whether your student loan will provide you with enough money for you to live on and if not, you can look at part-time jobs and other forms of income which will aid you in university. To make sure you're prepared, you should take a look at these top budgeting tips which will allow you to get the most out of your student experience.
Choose the best student account
One of the main advantages of being a student is your loan, so to make the most out of it, you should try to find the best bank account deal out there. You want to avoid making the mistake that many students have in the past, which is using their current account for their student loan. Unlike a student account, current accounts charge for overdrafts, while the majority of student accounts have 0% overdraft deals, which means you can borrow up to a certain amount in times of need without the drawback of interest.
Another great thing about student accounts is that many banks offer freebie deals, such as a free railcard or Amazon gift vouchers. Before choosing a bank, you should weigh up these options along with the overdraft limit, instead of just picking a branch just because it's around the corner from you. Once you have picked the right account for you and your student loan is available, try to avoid spending it all in one go. You should also stop yourself from reaching your overdraft limit and as a lifelong rule, never go over it, as this can be costly.
Pick the right accommodation
Although you can't choose where you live just yet, as your place at university is yet to be confirmed, this does not prevent you from having a look around. When searching for student accommodation, you need to consider several things, including price, because although the rent may seem low, you need to also look at other costs such as utility bills, Wi-Fi, TV license and more. You should compare these expenses with your expected student loan to establish whether you can afford this for the entirety of the student term.
Location is another massive thing to consider, as you want to make sure that you are close to your place of study without having to pay ridiculous prices. If your university is located in the city centre, nearby accommodation tends to be costly, so some students tend to move outside of the city and travel by public transport. This may be too much hassle, especially if you have a lot of 9 am lectures, so the best thing you can do is look early. If you're planning to attend a Liverpool-based university, you should take a look at the student accommodation available at RW Invest. These apartments offer great deals to students who are looking to live near their chosen university, while also providing an element of luxury to make you feel more at home.
Calculate your living expenses
Once you're settled and living in your chosen accommodation, this is when your budget really counts. To help you survive each term, you should make a plan which includes everything from food and household bills to clothing and leisure funds. You need to create a balance between your needs and wants because although you're living on a budget, you should still be able to have enough money to go out and enjoy yourself.
Just because you're a student does not mean you have to live in squalor and eat beans on toast for the next three years. Instead, you need to be smart when food shopping and choose essential items that will last you at least a week. To avoid spending your money on expensive and unnecessary items, you should make a shopping list, or better yet shop online. If you find that your student loan is starting to run low, you should start to cook in bulk and make lunches to go, which will prevent you from spending your money when you're at university and out and about.
"There are no good men out there," yet another woman my age declared. At 50, I was freshly divorced after two decades of marriage and motherhood. My unhappy marriage had shattered my faith in men and romantic relationships. Based on my ex-husband's opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Rather gleefully, I announced to my girlfriends that I was done with men, and sex, forever.
For the first year, I got tangled in my sheets alone every night, overjoyed to have the bed and my body to myself. I felt liberated by divorce—free to be me, skip showering, and make dinner for one. But it bothered me when women decried the scarcity of men, because I'd known so many good ones—college boyfriends, my brother, my best friend from business school, etc. The first of many naked truths gradually crept up on me: I was not going to find my juju again through self-help and yoga. The feminist in me didn't want to admit it, but going for too long without men was akin to starvation.
I didn't want another husband. But I needed men, a lot of them.
The universe signaled its approval by sending Mr. Blue Eyes to me at an airport. He was 29 and perhaps the sexiest man I'd ever kissed. Being with him convinced me, pretty decisively, that men were going to heal me, even though men had destroyed me many times before. I became the female incarnation of a divorced, clichéd older man: I bought a sports car, revamped my wardrobe, and took younger lovers. "I want five boyfriends," I told my best friend KC after that first tryst ended. "Sweet, cute, smart, nice. Enough that I won't get too attached to one." My message from the frontlines of divorce at 50 is that to restore your confidence as a woman, especially in the wake of a crushing breakup, try dating outside your comfort zone, expanding your dating pool to include partners you might never have considered before. It may not be the recipe for a lasting union, but in terms of rebuilding your self-esteem, it can work wonders.
The first thing I noticed—and liked—about dating younger men is that they didn't want to marry me or make babies with me. And I didn't want that either. Frankly, I didn't even want them to spend the night. Since I'd been 11, I'd been taught to seek out and value men who wanted commitment. To my surprise, I found it refreshing, even more authentic, to be valued not for my potential as a mate, but instead for my body, intelligence, life-experience and sexuality.
And the sex! I quickly realized that—warning, blanket stereotype coming—men under 40 are more straightforward and adventurous than older men, maybe since they were raised with the Internet. You hear so often about the scourge of crude, sexist online pornography; and I agree that the depersonalization of women as sexual playthings is deeply destructive to all genders. However, from sexting to foreplay, I found younger men uniquely enthusiastic about getting naked and enjoying sex. Every younger man found my most erotic zones faster than any man my age ever had, with a lack of hesitation men over 50 seemed unable to fathom.
Also, about my big fear of getting naked in front of a younger man? Completely unfounded. I started to shake when Airport Boy took off my sundress in our hotel room. Had he ever seen a woman my age nude? How could I stand to be skin-to-skin with a body far more perfect than mine? I had given birth to eight-pound, full-fucking-term babies. I'd nursed them, too, and at times by breasts looked (from my view at least) like wet paper towels. "You have a spectacular body," he told me instead, running his hand over the cellulite on my stomach that I despised. That night I learned that younger men who seek older women accept our physical flaws—they don't expect perfection in someone 20 years their senior. These men taught me to see my body through a positive, decidedly male lens, to focus on the pretty parts (and we all have them) rather than the flaws that we all have too, whether you're 19, 29 or 59.
I even found the pillow talk lighter, easier and more intellectually stimulating, because a younger man's world view differs so vastly from the pressures of my 20-something kids, annual colonoscopies, 401K balance and mortgage payments. They have simple financial problems, like "Can I borrow a few quarters for the parking meter outside?" or "Do you have any advice on consolidating my student loans?"
Everything feels simpler with younger men. Men under 40 seem less threatened by assertive women; they grew up with them. They like cheap beer instead of expensive wine. They don't snore (as much). Leftovers a 55-year-old would scoff at look good to them. Their erections NEVER last more than four hours. Their hard-ons end the old-fashioned way and 45 minutes later they are ready for more.
But what I enjoy most about younger men is not the sex, or the cliché that they make me feel young again—because they don't. Younger men make me feel old, and to my delight, I like that. I feel valuable around younger men, precisely because I am wiser and more experienced in life, love and between the sheets.
I know I'll never end up with one for good. The naked truth is we don't have enough in common to last. One recently put it exactly right when he told me, "I love this, but there's always gonna be a glass ceiling between us." That lack of permanence, the improbability of commitment and "forever," doesn't mean I can't pick up a tip or two about self-esteem, and enjoy the magic of human connection with younger men. And vice versa. The experience can enrich us both, making us better partners for people our own ages down the road.
*My viewpoint is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, because I am one. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.