Mind Over Money is the new podcast from No Really, I’m Fine, created in association with NatWest. The series looks at different money matters and aims to tackle the issue of financial wellbeing.
Ahead of its launch, Express Money was given exclusive access to the show – bringing readers a glimpse of what they can expect.
Among the range of topics explored, journalist and podcast host Gemma Sherlock has taken a closer look at student finances, and the difficulties students are facing during the coronavirus pandemic.
In one episode, she speaks to Ella, who is a student nurse.
Currently at university, Ella and her peers have been affected by the coronavirus lockdowns – including some begin unable to find jobs to help them get by – but have still had to cover their accommodation costs and tuition fees.
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Ella pays more than £9,000 each year in fees for her course, which is four years due to it being an integrated masters.
That doesn’t include her living costs, among which she currently pays £700 per month in rent for her student accommodation.
To help her get by she receives a maintenance loan via Student Finance.
During their conversation, Gemma points out mortgage holidays have been an option for homeowners who have been hit by the financial impact of the Covid crisis.
She asks: “Has there been anything similar for student loans or have they been in touch to offer any help at all?”
Ella says she hasn’t been informed of any options, and she still needs to meet her monthly rental costs.
She says she can cover her outgoings “for the minute”, but does need to “heavily budget”.
Explaining how student loan she receives is paid, Ella says: “It’s like an instalment of a couple grand, and that’s supposed to last you a good few months.”
Ella went on to explain how she ensures the instalments she gets covers her essential living costs.
“So I take out all of my rent for the next few months until I next get paid,” she says.
“Then I take out as much as I’ll need for food.
“Then I’ll take out what I might need for essentials, like shampoo or toilet roll. Then whatever’s left, I just sort of save.”
“Learning to budget is really difficult when you’ve never had to do it before,” she added.
Elsewhere during the podcast, Ella shares some insight into how she manages her money each month.
The student nurse spoke about the difficulties she’s encountered when it comes to making ends meet.
“It is quite a struggle. I’ve sort of never really had to learn to budget my money before, and bargain-hunt and things,” she said.
Ella has sought support on managing her money online, via groups set up on social media.
“I managed to join a group on Facebook. It’s not specifically for students, just for people that are on a budget,” she said.
It includes tips on how to cook on a budget, be it buying and freezing reduced-price vegetables or meal prepping for the week – something which she says has “really helped”.
“It has really helped but not everybody can afford to buy vegetables and things,” she says.