Oh, Uni. What fun it was. Many were the days when I would crack the piggy bank for beer money, or be scrounging around mates for spare change for a bus fare. The purpose of this article will be to tell you all some of the ways I managed to survive on a personal level through the uniformly money-bereft years of my tertiary education.
First off, and I know it might sound bad at first, but maintain good friendships. If you keep mates that are worth it, they’ll help you out in a pinch. I’m not giving you lisence to go bumming off them at every opportunity, and under no circumstances should you rip anyone off, but sometimes your friends will get you through situations that otherwise would have had you kicked out/starving/sober. There are a couple of rules to remember:
1)Thou shalt endeavour to pay back any and all money or goods borrowed or lent as soon as is practisable.
2) Thou shalt only avail thyself of the goodwill of thine fellow students when absolutely needed and offered, and
3) Thou shalt always be prepared to offer aid to another in need.
If you follow these three tenets, then your mates will be willing to lend you whatever you need in times of trouble. The second little tidbit I can summon up for you all is that of the cash-in-hand work agreement, a sneaky but surpisingly common creature that lets you work (often hard and without appreciation) for what is usually a pretty good rate, for instant cash in the paw that won’t affect your government payment or whatever you’re in receipt of. The downside to this arrangement though is that it’s sometimes illegal, which means you need to be careful who knows about it. More than one person I know got dobbed in to the authorities for copping a bit of cash on the side after a drunken boast at a party. I never actually took part in this whilst I was at uni coz my cost of living was very low, but the guys who did often seemed pretty happy with their setup. Other downsides include the sudden lack of social time, the ephemeral nature of the work, and the sheer unpleasantness of the work often involved here.
Third, I would urge you all to keep an eye on the scholarship page of your chosen university/college/other institution. Every uni has one, of that I’m pretty sure. Keep an eye on those benefits you can receive and what you need to do to receive them. Sometimes they’re dependent on marks or attendence, which can and has thrown more than one student a curve ball when they use the scholarship to go on a bender two days before the term finals…
In a similar vein, if you’re in receipt of a government payment or something, it pays to go in and describe your situation to them and ask if you’re getting maximum benefits. Sometimes you’ll miss out on something that would have made it a bit easier. Do not bullshit these people. If you can’t support what you say with documentation and signed forms, they will get you over a barrel and make sure you know who you messed with. Claiming you’re paying even ten dollars too much rent than you actually are will land you in very very hot water at some point.
Finally, never underestimate your ability to scrounge, skimp and scrape on food, electricity, and other bare essentials. I know it probably sounds horrible to many of you who would like to educate yourselves in comfort and quietude, but the uni/college crowd has a reputation for a reason. You should avail yourselves of it sometime. Happy moneygrubbing!