Friday, 20 July 2012

Money, money, money…

We all need money to survive and to live life. If you’re coming into nursing straight from school, then the NHS grant/NHS bursary/Student Loan will still be pitifully small – however it still may be more than you’re used to. You’ll have to worry about budgeting your money and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g your income for the whole month and you will learn, like we all do, that the week before pay day is always the hardest. If you are reading this and you have no earthly idea what I’m talking about, you’re pretty budget savvy and you should stop reading now and go wash your hair or catch up on other tweeting. This isn’t for you.


            Third Friday of every month is NHS Student Bursary pay day. It’s one of the rare occasions, on my online bank statements, when I see numbers without a minus (-) sign before them. After being a student nurse for so long now (trust me, it’s long), I just thought that’s how numbers naturally ran but no, red is not the new black. Budgeting is pretty much like staying in shape – in order to be slim, you need to burn off more than you chew (full disclosure, much like my bank account, I wouldn’t say I’m really successful in this area). In order to stay sane with such little money (but we thank you, Tax Payer, from the depths of our hearts) you need to spend less than you earn.

Sometimes it is necessary to go into your overdraft for your hair. Or that new outfit. Or for those tickets to that show. End of. But – yes, there’s a but – do that enough times and then when you really, really need money for something, you might not have funds. It’s an art that you must learn your own way.

I would like to mention that student nurses (probably all students) are eligible for help with their healthcare costs. In other words, you can get help (read: get it free or almost free) for your prescription costs, dental costs and eyecare costs. You can apply for a HC2 Certificate which gives you full help with health costs as we are so, well, poor. (http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcosts/Pages/nhs-low-income-scheme.aspx)

You need to think carefully about what to do with your money because if you are ever in sire straights, there is no quick solution and many, many, many student nurses drop out for financial reasons. Usually universities have Access to Learning Funds but they don’t listen to your sob story and then hand over money. Oh no no no no no no!!!! You have to fill out triplicate copies of forms and add photocopies of documents and proof of everything you’ve stated then wait for a decision. Only the persistent survive this hurdle.

Don’t let money be the thing that stands between you and your PIN number. Sort it out in the beginning and stick to it, best as you can. There is no right or wrong but you need to save your stress for the patients and mentors and doctors with God complexes. I did really well for the first two and a half years and lived within my means i.e. bursary and loan. Then in the last six months of training, I got a steady job once weekly and started living off my overdraft. It was a conscious decision as I wanted to live a little. This worked out ok-ish although I am now more stressed about money than previously. However, I start my induction with the Foundation Trust (my first job as a staff nurse *sighs*) so I’m just going to put this on my win column and move on.

You may be familiar with some of these sites but if not, see below:
*Disclaimer: A lot of the above is pure junk but sometimes you strike gold.