With your undergraduate degree under your belt, you’re hungry for more. More knowledge, more learning, more experiences, more of that student life fun. You’re ready to get your postgraduate degree.
But, are you financially stable?
We know, finances aren’t too fun (unless you’re an accounting student, in which case we’re really sorry for insulting finances!) but, they are pretty damn important, especially if you’re going overseas for your postgraduate degree.
Here are five tips to help you make the most of your money and set you up for your postgrad and for your future…
1. Don’t rush into it
You’re certain you want to get your Master’s, nothing could possibly deter you… but, money is a little tight at the moment.
Determined and headstrong, you head straight into it anyway because it’s what you want, but a few months down the line and you’re really struggling to make ends meet. Save yourself the stress and wait a couple of years if need be.
Hold onto that dream – it’s not going anywhere.
2. Be realistic
If you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. The last thing you want is to get yourself into any financial trouble so if the numbers just aren’t adding up, you might want to reconsider your options.
Consider applying for a loan (many students do) to cover your costs, so investigate how much you could borrow – and decide how much debt you are comfortable having.
Perhaps you qualify for a scholarship – don’t be afraid to ask – or, if you are currently working and your further study would be of benefit to the company, your employer may be willing to pay or contribute toward your costs.
Tuition and living costs can vary from country to country, city to city, university to university and even course to course. So work out what you can afford before getting your heart set on anything.
You will need to consider your living costs, transport costs, course costs, tuition and all the other many financial factors which come into play when you’re studying for a Master’s. If it’s a PhD you’ve set your sights on, consider how much you will be paid and factor this in.
You will need to opt for a country, city, university, and course which is within a reasonable budget for you, so while we’d always encourage you to aim high, there are some things which just won’t work out in reality.
3. Make the most of student discounts
As a postgraduate student, it can be easy to forget you are still eligible for the majority of the little perks undergraduates get.
Scour the internet for student discount cards and deals and make sure you always ask in shops – both online and in person – whether they offer student discounts or not.
You might be surprised by the sheer number of places that offer great deals to students. Use and abuse that right!
With the idea of student life in mind, try embracing the student diet. You don’t have to live off baked beans and dry cereal all term long but maybe try buying cheaper versions of the food you normally get or saving more expensive foods for a treat.
Remember your undergrad days of desperately trying to make money stretch to the end of term? It’s likely to be the exact same for your postgrad so try and enjoy even the not-so-desirable quirks of student life.
4. Have a plan
It would definitely be a wise move to make a financial plan. How much money do you have? How will you get more if need be? How much will you need for tuition costs? Accommodation? Food? Additional expenses?
Add up all these costs and then you’ll want to add a buffer on top of this for any of life’s unexpected mishaps.
Once you have calculated all your costs and got your grand total (plus a buffer), have a look at your current financial situation and see what you can afford.
Make yourself a monthly budget so you know roughly how much should be coming in and going out each month and keep a track of it before, during and even after your studies. You’ll be a lot more in control if you’re keeping tabs on your spending.
Try logging everything you buy in a notebook or a spreadsheet and you’re likely to find patterns in spending. This may help you rethink unnecessary purchases or cut out bad spending habits.
5. Work, work, work
In the lead up to your masters it would be a wise idea to work – if you’re not already working – and minimise your spending in order to have a healthy sum of savings before you begin.
If you are doing a PhD, working is typically a part of the course as you conduct your research.
Usually, you will be paid for this work so your salary may cover the majority, if not all, of your costs and relieve some of that pressure. For Master’s students, you may want to get a part-time job alongside your studies to support yourself.
Make sure you are applying to jobs nice and early because, as graduation looms closer, you don’t want to be feeling the financial strain as soon as you’re out there in the real world again.
It would be wise to have a little pot of money saved for after you graduate to help you along the way in case your job search stretches for longer than you’d planned.