Sana Sarwar

With the big spend at Christmas, students find themselves in financial difficulties
during the winter months.

Social work student, Sandra Osafo, living in Maria Grey Hall claims, “I feel
Christmas time was the time when I found it most difficult to balance my money, with rent
being so high, most of my student loan money is going towards my rent, leaving just about
enough for food and other necessary things, which is upsetting when you want to splurge on
Christmas.

“So after Christmas with my student loan running low, my biggest financial issue was
when I had to buy books for my course, after spending all my money on the necessary things
I didn’t have enough”.

Psychology student, Priya Patel, living in Fleming Hall said, “Having spent all the
money on presents and outings, I had to be strict. But as I suspected, this is a lot harder than I
thought.

“Reason being, you can’t just stop yourself from buying things like food. My
hardships even got to a point where I had to think twice before thinking of buying food for
hot meals, which you crave in this freezing weather”.

Ingrid Samuels, Senior Advisor at Money Doctors - Brunel, explains that help is
available at the university and informs us about how students should avoid getting in
financial hardship as well as how to tackle money problems.

To deal with any money problems, Ingrid said: “The key thing is, once students feel
as though they are hitting a financial problem that is the prime time to come and see us, so the
situation can be resolved quickly. Students should come and see us before they get their loan,
so we can help them budget effectively”.

She added that some students may “find by approaching us that the reason they are in
this hardship is because they haven’t applied for their full student funding and may be able to
access more funding by student finance.

“It may be that some students can apply for discretionary grants with charity
organisations. By looking at websites like turntous.org.uk, which has a wealth of grants that
students may be eligible to apply for. By putting your information into the site, it will then
calculate the grants you can apply for. So some of these grants may mean you get a small
reward that will help you with course related costs, or maybe an unexpected expenditure that
has come into your radar”.

She then went on to give an example of how the money doctors can help tackle a
number of problems: “If you have had something unexpected happen in your finances you
may then apply for discretionary help from the university, and if there is no way you can
meet your first instalment of your accommodation cost for example, if you come and see the
money doctors perhaps we may be able to support you by giving a letter to the various
departments to explain your financial issue, and ask if they could possibly consider a waiver
of the late payment fee”.

In order to reduce spending cost she advises that “you may want all housemates to
pitch in together to do the shopping, and perhaps bulk buy necessary things together to save
money.

“Also students should not feel pressurised in buying expensive Christmas presents,
because I’m sure your family do understand that you are a student and not loaded with
money”.

To find out more tips and tricks of how to save money, visit the Money Doctors site at
https:/intra.brunel.ac.uk/s/moneydoctors or to book a confidential appointment/ask a question
email moneydoctors@brunel.ac.uk.