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.
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.