A student perspective of the cost of living crisis: Can money really buy happiness?
Over the past year we have seen a rise in cost of everything from gas and electricity bills to supermarket essentials, this rising cost has been a strain on everyone’s finances due to the lack of funding to compensate for the rapid increase in pricing within all areas. For some this just means avoiding luxuries and encouraging a more budgeted lifestyle, however for others this can mean a complete change in lifestyle, over three million people across the UK have struggled to keep the house warm during extremely cold conditions within recent months, rising energy prices have made it extremely difficult for many people to afford something seen as a necessity, being warm in your own home has become a luxury to some.
How this is affecting students
A large majority of students rely on their student loan only to sustain them through each year of their education, whether they receive the maximum amount or the minimum. A large portion of a students expenses focuses on rent, but on top of that the price of food and drink has increased by 16.4% adding extra cost to weekly and monthly spending. With the party and social culture that stereotypical surrounds student living it can be difficult to budget and prioritize spending on more important things, especially within the first few years living alone in new circumstances. It is a lot of pressure initially to juggle studies and social life when first entering a further education environment but having to handle expenses can make this a lot more challenging.
"NUS’ Student Cost of Living Survey had 92 per cent of surveyed students say the cost-of-living crisis had an impact on their mental health"
Statistics shown from recent research emphasizes the issues students are currently facing and the impacts the cost of living is having mentally and overall affecting the well being of many students. Relating back to the pressure surrounding the uni lifestyle not being able to afford necessities limits students to a less social and more strict way of living. Having these constructions is impacting the mental health of students nationally. Not every student desires the social/night out side as much as others but having restrictions on spending can make it difficult to make friends within a new atmosphere and really connect with new people, whether that is within clubbing culture or taking part in societies and social events overall.
So, can money buy happiness?
You would think having an endless income would make anyone happy let alone a student within the current climate, but that is a lot to ask for from any point of view. In terms of how money can change the life of a student it more relates to the mental health and pressure surrounding the circumstances of uni living, being able to pay off rent and bills without being in automatic debt is going to lift a weight of most people's mind.
When we hear the phrase 'money can't buy happiness' we automatically relate it to being superficial and being surrounded by wealth in a negative light. However in the sense that having enough money to gain financial freedom it can be an extremely positive experience and it may be argued that it can be happiness as it relieves stress and gives people the privilege to reach goals they may not have previously had access to.
A students perspective
As student having complete financial freedom gives the opportunity to access a more positive uni experience, depending on the person and their situation it can give access to better public transport, better living conditions, access to better food and means of health etc. which would improve the overall environment and reduce negative connotations surrounding student living, allowing focus on the actual learning and degree aspects of university.
What to do next?
Having financial freedom would be ideal for most but is not very realistic, it is important to find ways to enjoy our uni experience whilst budgeting appropriately. We can rely on some banking apps to organise our money to the best we can, some great examples include Monzo, Monese and Starling bank, these are just a few examples of online banking apps that give you the option to organise your money into different savings options. Whether this is to put money aside for a rent payment or if it is to save for a weekly night out. This is obviously not an ideal option when do not have the money to save, getting a part time job is an option not all of us have the time for especially when taking on a demanding degree full time. Universities offer help to those who need it financially, it is important to look into grants and bursary funding if your student loan is not covering what you need for your financial situation, furthermore it is worth contacting your university for a hardship fund if it is taking a toll on well being and affecting the quality of your uni experience, you are paying for this your degree.