Welcome to another student interview!
This time I decided to take it to the streets and interview students hanging around University of Edinburgh. I dragged my good friend Alvar along and we just stopped random students and asked them the same 11 questions. It was very interesting and quite a bit of fun! I also handed them an amateur (but still cute) Financially Mint business card so they would check out their answers (if that’s you, hi!).
I also recorded their answers, but won’t be putting them all up since that day was very windy and the sound wasn’t always great.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s see what our great interviewee Tom has got to say!
(I will probably hit the streets again, so if you have any ideas of other questions to ask them feel free to comment them below!)
1. Name and university
Tom from the University of Edinburgh
2. Did you take out a student loan? If so, how much are you getting?
Since we’re in Scotland, most students have free tuition (unless you’re international or English). Tom gets a maintenance loan of around £300/month.
3. Is the loan enough? How else do you support yourself?
Tom’s parents aren’t too hard off, so it’s understandable that his loan is low. However, from what he says it seems that his parents don’t send him that much money either.
His savings from working over the summer paid for the rent this year.
4. Do you budget? How?
He tries to not spend more than £300-400 a month. Although that might not be considered full on budgeting, it still shows he is conscious about his spending and puts some restrictions. Good Tom.
And here’s some more: Student Guide: Budgeting
5. What are your tips to save money?
Some great tips from Tom here. He says:
- Planning meals
- Doing it day by day
- Shopping at Lidl/Aldi
- Before buying anything thinking: ‘Do I really need this?’
- Taking packed lunches
- Thy NUS card
Loved his tips, especially the ‘Do I really need this?’. We would buy much less stuff if we all asked ourselves this before buying (myself included).
Here are some extra snazzy tips: 18 ways to Save Money in Uni
6. Do you have a job? What is it?
As mentioned before, Tom took a summer job working in a restaurant. All the money went to rent and now he’s applied for a job in a pub.
It’s crazy to think how many hours we can work in a summer, and then how quickly it disappears with big expenses like rent or textbooks. That’s why I encourage students to take a job that builds skills, so you can get something else out of the job as well.
7. Do you make money in any other ways?
Currently applied for a pub job.
8. How do you find student deals and which ones do you use?
He does use the NUS card and simply tries shopping in cheap places, but apart from that not much else. This is because of his mentality of ‘yes discounts are great, but I would still have to buy it in the first place’.
I love this because Tom understands that discounts are a marketing and sales tactic for companies to attract more customers. That’s great, but it still doesn’t mean we actually need to buy said thing.
Discounts and offers are great, but ask yourself the Tom question before even using it: Do I really need this? You’ll save much more money buy simply not buying 😉
9. Ever thought of getting started with investing? What’s holding you back?
I was always laughing when I asked this question, simply because investing is mostly unheard of in the student world, and most students would look at me like ‘investing? I don’t want to lose all my money thanks’.
Tom told us he knew a bit about stocks and had seen Wolf of Wall Street, but like many other people, did not know enough to get started.
But I’m adamant on investing for a reason: investing in your early twenties means having a savings pot of £121,000 at the age of 50, versus just saving £36,000. Cue my favourite graph:
But of course, no one tells us how to get started. So here are some Financially Mint articles for ya:
10. What’s the hardest part of being a student?
Tom had a few replies:
- Getting used to the independence – from student accommodation to a flat
- Balancing work and study, managing your time efficiently.
Other students had similar answers (check out Victoria‘s). It’s hard to try to have a social life, earn money and get good grades at the same time. The key is scheduling. Google Calendar is my life. More in this in a post to follow.
11. Is university worth it, for you?
Tom was a bit hesitant on this question, admitting that sometimes when he finishes the summer he does wish he could get into a full time job immediately.
His answer was: ask me after I’ve graduated. He hopes it will be worth it, but it was visible he wasn’t sure.
It’s not an easy question to answer; we’ve been programmed to think: school, university, job. Most people go to university because this is what is expected, this is what society tells us is the path of life. So it’s interesting to hear what students themselves think of it.
Notably, I decided to take a different path and do an online university instead. Whatever works best for you.
Tom was a great guy to interview, and I hope he checks out the blog and reads his answers!
The key takeaways I got from interviewing Tom were:
- Before buying something ask yourself: ‘Do I really need this?’
- Discounts are great, but not buying is still cheaper than buying on a discount
- Simply being conscious about what you’re spending is an easy way to get started with budgeting
What did you think? Is university worth it for you? Let me know in the comments!