Top Tips for Handling Economic Anxiety as a University Student

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

As a college graduate set to embark on a university degree, you might have some concerns about money and how you’ll be able to fund your studies and the wider university experience – especially in today’s climate.

Economic anxiety is more common than you might think, with 19 million adults in the UK reporting that they feel worried when thinking about their financial situation. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to unfold, the number of potential students in the UK concerned about money will more than likely increase.

High levels of money worries can damage both your physical and mental health; studying for a degree can be stressful enough without the added panic of how you’re going to afford university supplies, accommodation, and food.

What is financial psychology?

Understanding the psychology behind your own financial management could help keep your head above water as you navigate university life – and you don’t necessarily need to be a psychology undergraduate to comprehend this. Simply put, while much of finance is seen from a numeric value, this concept explores and analyses the human element behind the decisions we make.

Financial psychology explores social, cognitive, emotional, and cultural factors and the role they play when it comes to how we manage and spend our money. As well as your own psychological influences, you should be open to the advice and guidance that’s out there for students in your exact situation. Here are some of our top tips.

Talk to a professional

Thankfully, there are various charities and support networks that have been set up with the sole purpose of helping students understand and navigate their money issues. If you want guidance on how to pay for university or cope with financial challenges while studying, talk to a professional.

UCAS has a section on their website especially dedicated to helping you access financial support. Discover scholarships, bursaries, and grants that can help you pay for tuition fees, accommodation, resources, and more. You could also explore Turn2Us, a national charity that offers help to students who are struggling financially.

Being burdened with economic anxiety as a university student can feel soul-destroying, especially in light of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis; but remember, as cliché as it sounds, you’re not alone. A little bit of research can uncover a rainbow in what might currently feel like a storm.

Stop comparing yourself to others

During your time at university, you’ll likely come across people from all walks of life… and from all financial brackets. It’s really important you resist the urge to compare your lifestyle and your spending habits to that of other people’s, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.


It’s not a competition, and constantly weighing up your situation with somebody else’s is likely to cause even more economic anxiety and upset. You may meet fellow students who seem unfazed by the increasing prices, and that’s quite simply because their situation is different to yours for whatever reason. Keep your focus on yourself and your own finances, because that’s all that matters right now.

Keep track of everything you spend and budget your money

‘Budgeting’ may sound like patronising advice, but you’d be surprised by how many Brits fail to do it. In fact, in a recent survey, 20.3 million adults confessed that they don’t feel confident managing their money. Get into the habit of keeping track of what you’re spending and where, and your adult self will thank you later.

Firstly, sit down with your bank statements (spanning six months to a year) and look for areas where you could be wasting money. From there, cancel direct debits that no longer serve any purpose and make a note of any habits that you would like to change.

This could be a membership to a gym you’ve only visited a handful of times, takeaway meals that could have been at-home ‘fakeaways’, or clothes you didn’t really need.

If you need help with budgeting, try the ‘50/30/20’ rule. When you receive your student loan or monthly wage from your part-time job, split it into three categories: 50 per cent for needs, 30 per cent for wants, and 20 per cent for savings or debt payments. This process is simple to grasp and could help you tackle your money worries and prevent any issues from arising during your university experience.

Be kind to yourself

Through difficult times, it’s crucial you remember to be kind to yourself! The worries you may be feeling are understandable and valid, and it’s not your fault that the cost of living is spiralling. All you can do is your best to make your own situation a little bit lighter.

If you feel your anxiety is constant, overwhelming, or negatively impacting your studies and general day-to-day life, seek the help of a mental health professional. It’s important to address these feelings as soon as possible.

These next three years are to be enjoyed!

Economic anxiety can be brutal, but there are steps you can take to reduce worries and stop financial challenges from rearing their ugly head. Many adults will tell you that their time at university was the best years of their lives, and you deserve a chance to undertake that same thrilling experience.

There’s help available to you, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. Stay optimistic and work hard for that degree – you're going to do brilliantly.