A year on a shoestring

Tips for managing your finances through the course from one of our Fellows

When I was offered a place on the 2016 programme I was unsure how I would make things work financially and whether I could face going back to a student budget a few years after graduating from university.

10 months later and I am so glad that I didn’t let this barrier stop me from participating in Year Here. The late nights, early starts and weekend jobs have all been worth it – and I’ve now joined the staff team as a Community Manager.

But it has been undeniably tricky at times.

The pressure of earning an income on top of the demanding nature of Year Here has meant that I have had to manage my time more effectively than ever before. Now, ‘relaxation’ is something I have to schedule into my diary consciously.

If you’re considering Year Here but worrying about how you’re going to make it work financially, you should know that many other Fellows will be in a similar boat. You can make it work and, collectively, you’ll quickly find out where to find the cheapest happy hours and the bargain lunch spots.

Here are a few tips:

Part time work

The course is very intensive but, with some careful planning, it is possible to work in the evenings, weekends and during holidays to earn some extra cash. Many Fellows have part time or freelance jobs and – despite the programme being your priority in terms of your time and energy – the Year Here team understands that many Fellows are juggling several projects at once. It is also worth being honest and open if you are struggling financially, and the team can work with you to come up with a plan of action.

Fellows in my cohort do everything from tutoring sixth formers and undertaking academic research to working in bars and writing press articles. If you have specific skills like graphic design, web development or social media, freelance websites such as PeoplePerHour offer flexible one off jobs.

Tell your Year Here buddy, coach and mentor that you’re looking for flexible work and they can help spread the word to the Year Here network – opportunities often arise. Via my placement, I found paid freelance research work within a few weeks of starting the programme.

Accommodation

For those living as a property guardian through Dot Dot Dot, you’ll be surprised by how cheaply you can live. In total, I managed to spend less than £200 per month on my accommodation and bills.

Furniture

If you’re moving into an unfurnished flat, check out schemes such as Homestore and the Furniture Restore Project that offer low cost second hand furniture for people on low incomes. You may be required to show proof of identity and payslips so it is worth ringing them in advance to ask about this.

It is also definitely worth having a look on Freecycle and Gumtree. Fellows have also been known to carry fly tipped furniture across the city, so keep your eyes out for some gems on the street.

If you are moving into Dot Dot Dot accommodation, ask other property guardians who are moving out of their homes if you can take their unwanted furniture off their hands.

Travel

Your frontline placement and consulting project client will cover travel expenses. By the time you’ve got to the incubator phase, most Fellows have been awarded small grants to develop their projects and ventures – and these are often used to cover travel expenses.

For personal travel, lots of us cycle. If you prefer travelling by public transport and have a Young Person’s Railcard, link it to your pay as you go Oyster to apply a discount on peak time travel.

Health

Applying for the NHS low income scheme will save you money on prescriptions, dental and eye care costs. This could end up saving you a few hundred pounds if you happen to need a filling or two.