Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Saturday Salute 30.08.08

Better late than never! The weeks finds:

The Poster List are definately deserving of a click if you're a new student with a bare room to personalise on the cheap. Here are a few of my favourites:

If you reside in the south west area of the UK then check out Blind Lemon Vintage who have an upcoming vintage fashion fair in Bristol this October. Just buying a ticket puts you in the draw to win £150 to spend at the event. I know I'll be there!

Well folks, this one's pretty self-explanatory.

How to Get Cheap Flights. A lot of reading material; if you're organised enough, you'll get a great deal.

The guys over at Students at Uni have devised an in depth guide to Making Money Around Your Studying.

Edit: Almost forgot this little gem on Tips and Advice For Freshers from Flying Saucer.

Short and sweet (I began on a cliche so I shall end on one.)

What's been floating your boat on the wonderful web this week?

Megan x

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Who Else Wants a Better Work Ethic?

Image thanks to ohchristopher

Do you struggle with motivation?

At school, college or university, is it an absolute chore to get any work done? Do you find yourself ‘cramming’ at the last minute, not handing in essays or missing classes and lectures altogether?

At your job, do you suffer from ‘employee mentality’? You know the sort of thing: ‘I don’t want to go in but I’ll only get in trouble if I don’t’ or ‘I hate this job but I’m too afraid to quit.’ I’ve fallen victim to it many a time and, honey, if you get to this point, things really need to change.

I’m not going to simply suggest tips and tricks on inspiring work ethic, that’s been done. I am instead going to say that what’s important is to really get to the root of your problem. And, yes, it is a problem if you feel uninspired about your life in this way. Nothing I can say will help you if you can’t work out why you are unmotivated; I’d just be offering up advice you’re likely to have heard before and ignored. You’ll have your own personal reasons for a lack of work ethic, whether they are minor or mega.

The odd bout of laziness is fine. We’re all human. Nobody is perfect and there will always be things we need to do that we just don’t want to. Off days are cool. An ‘off’ degree, an ‘off’ career or even an ‘off’ life, is not acceptable! You deserve more.

If your work ethic isn’t great, chances are you are focusing on the end result, rather than the action itself.


If you regularly aren’t waking up in the morning for class and your last three essays were written 10 minutes before you handed them in, your mentality towards your studies is probably ‘I just need to get through these couple of years, come out with an OK grade and get the job I want, then my life will be more fulfilling.’


If you have a mundane part-time, weekend or evening job you aren’t enjoying and therefore aren’t excelling in, more than likely your mentality is simply ‘I need the money.’If it’s your career, you may be thinking ‘I’m here until I figure out what I really want to do.’

Or even...

If, in life in general, on a day-to-day basis, you just can’t be bothered with making an effort at anything, then not only is your mentality likely to be ‘I’ll just plod along until I figure out what to do with my life’ or ‘If I win the lottery/get married/get somebody else’s life, then I’ll be fulfilled,’ but this could even be linked with genuine depression, and you need to take action to deal with it.

Do you want the plain truth as I see it? If this is repeatedly the way you look at things: ‘my current life is A, and A will get me to B. I don’t enjoy A but I sure as heck will enjoy B’ then you will probably continue to go through life unhappy and unfulfilled. You need to recognise this as a ‘grass is greener’ illusion.

I have a great quote which really struck a chord with me when I discovered it and my life has gone in a new direction ever since.

"Situation cannot change mans life; his attitude can and does."
Sri Chinmoy

A lot in life we cannot or will never change, yet it is a shining truth that people live contented and satisfied lives at every end of the spectrum; money, success, relationships - they don’t necessarily have a bearing on happiness at all. It’s that old chestnut, but a successful, wealthy business man with a beautiful wife and family may easily be the unhappiest man in the world, especially if he is aspiring to a life travelling the globe, not answering to a soul and with a string of gay lovers. You see?

Your attitude: that one, solitary factor in life that will make or break your sense of fulfilment is, conveniently, one of the few things you can really control, but you must first become attuned to it.

Attitude and work ethic walk hand in hand.

It is a difficult thing for many people to recognise, me included, but in your head there are two conflicting voices; one says ‘Yes, I can. I’m strong, I’m worthy; I accept myself’ the other says ‘No, I absolutely cannot, I’m a chump, I’m worthless, I wish I was somebody else.’ In each individual, and in different situations, one voice generally speaks louder than the other. It is easy to see which one leads us to success and fulfilment and which leads to disappointment and gloom.

Here’s the good news, chaps: it is absolutely, 100%, totally up to you which voice you listen to.

Whatever it is you are doing with your life at this moment that is not inspiring your work ethic, you need to change your outlook on it. This may be a massive thing for you; it may just be a teeny-tiny change of ideas.

Ask yourself: why am I here? Why am I doing this?

If you answer that you are doing it for you and only you, then why are you failing to achieve at it? Is it dull? Not what you anticipated? Merely a means to an end? How can you put an angle on it that convinces you it is worth working hard for? If you absolutely cannot then why, oh why, are you doing it?

If you answer, which you may well do, that you are doing it for someone (anyone’s) good opinion, for the supposed outcome, for the normality, for the sake of it etc. Then – like I have, like many people have – you’ve gotten it so, so wrong and a re-evaluation is desperately required!

If you take on board just one point here, let it be this:

You are on this planet as you, to achieve ‘you.’ You are not your mother, or your friend, or any chosen idol, and never will be; you will only ever be you. It is your own choices and your own opinion of yourself that make your life worth it. You cannot possibly ever live up to anyone else’s opinion of you without first living up to your own. Be who you dream of being; let your choices be for you, then watch happiness roll in.

You have to want to do what you’re doing to be successful in doing it. So find the reason to want to do it. Your life should never be based on ‘the light at the end of the tunnel.’ Your life should be saturated with light, every single moment of it.

Phew, I hope that was helpful in some way.

Has any of the above hit home? Do you have your own important points to add? Comment away!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

How to Ace Your Job Interview

Picture thanks to danagraves

Last Friday, I took part in a trial shift for a part-time job I really wanted and aced it. It wasn’t luck, it wasn’t a job any monkey could do and I really don’t have a whole heap of experience in the field. How did I do it?

No, this isn’t a trick question or an unanswerable riddle, it’s a simple equation:

Your Interview + Preparation = Success.

There really isn’t much that lies within the realms of reality that you cannot achieve with some well laid plans.

Let’s look at it this way: you turn up to your interview, dressed in the ‘best-thing-you-could-find’ crumpled old school shirt from the back of your wardrobe, you know very little about the job, very little about your employer, you haven’t prepared anything to demonstrate or to ask, you flail around like a fish out of water and the whole thing ends up a little bit embarrassing, sound familiar? I sure as heck know that I’ve been there.

Why haven’t you planned in this case? Because, deep down, there’s very little chance you actually give a damn about the job. You’re a student; you don’t really want to slog away for minimum wage at work that is the complete opposite of what you’d ever want to do as a career. If they turn you down (which they’re well within their rights to do if you act this way!) you’ll probably show disappointment on the surface, but that little devilish voice inside you is cackling ‘I didn’t want that worthless job anyway!’

The first major point to consider when going for a job is the other person’s point of view. They don’t want someone who couldn’t care less about their business and their priorities as equally as you don’t want to work for someone who couldn’t care less about you and your priorities.

It’s much easier to achieve this if you can spark within yourself some kind of interest in the company you’re applying to. Whether it be a supermarket or fashion outlet, leisure centre or bakery, there’s bound to be an interesting business there, something somebody built from the ground up; a business with ethics and outlook. You should go for a job which you can in some way relate to: if you love fashion, chances are the company recruiting for that clothing retail position feels the same; it’s likely the person who began that business felt the same. Look for a job that ignites a passion in you, however small, then go ahead and show it with some enthusiasm.

Once you’ve manufactured a little of this enthusiasm, you’ll find the job becomes a much better prospect for you and less of a potential daily grind. Think where the skill gained from this line of work could take you, how it could build your character and add to your CV. If you can get to a point where you’re buzzing with enthusiasm for the job, believe me, this will show. You are selling yourself to this company and they don’t want to be sold a dud, they want to see some energy!

A Practical, Step-by-Step Guide to Acing Your Job Interview:

♥ First and foremost, plan ahead. All these steps require you to take a little time out to organise yourself (before the day of the interview!) This will leave you feeling primed, happy and with a lot less unnecessary stress on the day.

♥ Dress for the position. Imagine you had the job and you were heading in on your first day, how would you look? Obviously don’t turn up in the company’s uniform! That’s a little too eager, just be sure to look like a suitable candidate. If in doubt, always go looking as smart as possible. If you need to invest in a new shirt then do it, it is an investment, meaning that if it helps you to get the job then it’s worth it; it might just give you the edge over the chump who turns up in a tracksuit. Smart clothing says ‘I care.’ And believe you me, their business is their baby and they want someone who’ll care for it. Have your chosen attire ready to go the night before; don’t leave yourself with a last minute ironing catastrophe.

♥ Ask questions. This is a key way to show off your newly ignited enthusiasm. Research the company online a little beforehand if you can or just wonder how they started, where they’re headed, and how they plan to get there. They’ll nearly always ask if you have any questions and you should have, don’t leave it at ‘how much do I get paid?’ Don’t just kiss ass either because this will be glaringly obvious (though sometimes employers do like a jobsworth…) for extra points ask their expectations of you and how you can assist them to get where they’re going.

♥ Prepare answers. You know the type of codswallop they put on application forms these days like ‘explain a time when team work has benefited you.’ Well, they can easily drop a question like this in an interview and you want to have quick-fire replies at the ready. Imagine the qualities the job requires, traits that they’ll want to see in you, and work answer templates around these.

♥ Be decisive. Don’t ‘um…’ and ‘ah…’ at their questions. Say what you’ve got to say, be clear and to the point, make it what they want to here and be done with it.

♥ Relate past experience. They want to know that you have at least some skills related to the job at hand and the chances are you have loads you don’t even know about, it’s just a matter of working out what they really want to hear. This is where you should probably spend the most time planning ahead. If you’ve done a little babysitting – you’re responsible; if you’ve helped your granny weed her garden at the weekend – you have a good work ethic; you’ve taken the time to bother showing up to this interview – you’re proactive! Cultivate action words like these into key points that reveal you as a super nominee for the job they’ve got going.

♥ Make friends!
All these tips are key to your success in an interview but they won't be if you act like a robot doing them. Relax, be chatty, be yourself and strike up a relationship with your interviewer, they're a lot more likely to remember you this way. You're not a walking CV, you're a lively, animated character with a great personality - show them!

♥ Be positive. Go for the job with a positive outlook, you should really want it but equally it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it. Treat all your job-hunting incidents as invaluable experience; teeny tiny baby steps toward your dream career.

So, you starry-eyed senoritas, what’s your best interview tactic? Or your worst ever blunder? How many of you are opting for part-time work alongside your studies? Got an interview coming up?

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Girls On Film

Has the fashion inspiration well run a little dry just recently? Is your ‘look’ in need of a shake up? Wanting to feast your eyes on some juicy fashion candy without shelling out on a run-of-the-mill magazine? Fear not! Here are some of my most adored, aesthetically stirring films and tips on how to pay fair homage to them, hopefully they’ll inspire you to reproduce looks from your own favourite films.

Marie Antoinette (2006)

The film is nothing short of an aesthetic overdose; an optical binge offering mammoth amounts of eye candy. Obviously, the style can be adopted at what ever level of extremity suits you (and your wallet!) Here are a few hints on how I’d ‘let them eat cake’...

Product Information

Ruffles, bows, pleats, satin, floral, buttons, pearls, lace, ringlets, feathers – it all goes. Grab list: Sleeves that widen at the elbow, square necklines, pinched waists, full skirts, white tights, corsages. For an everyday sense of elegance this winter invest in a dress coat like my example, some Victorian style leather, lace or satin gloves and layer fitted tops over frilly shirts.

Bugsy Malone (1976)


It was the High School Musical of the 70’s and, aside from my being genuinely tempted to legally change my name to ‘Tallulah,’ and knowing every song almost by heart, I also adore the adolescent artistry of the costume. How would I do it? Here’s how…

Product Information

The look is distinctly 1920’s and 30’s flapper girl, giving excellent vintage shopping potential! Pin-curls should be a serious consideration with this one.

Cry Baby (1990)


Yep, well, Traci Lords character as Wanda pretty much sums this one up for me; she’s a bit 50’s, a lot 80’s, in short, a visual gold mine. The hair! Oh the hair… And the make up! Dear Jehovah, it’s divine. (If you’ve got sass enough to rock the tiny fringe, do it! And send me pictures.) Here’s how I’d do the look...

Product Information

Please note that these sets are to inspire you when high street, thrift, ebay, and charity shop shopping. I realise some products featured exceed the normal student budget!

What are your top, stylistically inspiring films and how could you emulate them?

Megan x

Monday, 25 August 2008

Words to Live By #2

It's a brand new week, poised like a blank canvas, yearning to be splattered with the colours of your life. Who cares what happened last week, or what will happen next week? Right now, it's all about THIS week.

What are you going to do with it?

"Walk in the rain, jump in mud puddles, collect rocks, rainbows and roses, smell flowers, blow bubbles, stop along the way, build sandcastles, say hello to everyone, go barefoot, go on adventures, act silly, fly kites, have a merry heart, talk with animals, sing in the shower, read childrens' books, take bubble baths, get new sneakers, hold hands and hug and kiss, dance, laugh and cry for the health of it, wonder and wander around, feel happy and precious and innocent, feel scared, feel sad, feel mad, give up worry and guilt and shame, say yes, say no, say the magic words, ask lots of questions, ride bicycles, draw and paint, see things differently, fall down and get up again, look at the sky, watch the sun rise and sun set, watch clouds and name their shapes, watch the moon and stars come out, trust the universe, stay up late, climb trees, daydream, do nothing and do it very well, learn new stuff, be excited about everything, be a clown, enjoy having a body, listen to music, find out how things work, make up new rules, tell stories, save the world, make friends with the other kids on the block, and do anything else that brings more happiness, celebration, health, love, joy, creativity, pleasure, abundance, grace, self-esteem, courage, balance, spontaneity, passion, beauty, peace, relaxation, communication and life energy to...all living beings on this planet."

Bruce Williamson, It's Never Too Late To Have A Happy Childhood, 1987

Megan x

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Saturday Salute 23.08.08

Photo thanks to rico*oneday

This week I've been overwhelmed by the amount of student related goodies there are floating about on the web, here are a few of the best, plus some frolicsome fancies:

The Single Most Important Study Strategy You Will Ever Hear. An interesting guest post from The Student Help Forum.

As a follow on from my Money, Honey series here are 10 Major Money Tips from Martin at The University Blog and 11 Best Money Saving Ideas of All Time from Life Organizers. Handy hints to put into practice.

If 'fitting in' at your chosen University frightens the pants off you here's The Secret to Not Caring What People Think. Wise words.

Check out this Lesson For Everyone then think long and hard about it - so sweet!

Sound advice on Using What You've Got in your wardrobe by DisneyRollerGirl.

Cute youtube video Legal Land will inspire if you study/plan to study law at uni. Even if you don't, it's still a gem and has definate lego-nostaligia potential.

American Apparel are offering 15% off to students... What are you waiting for? Go!

The Independent's Kay Barron presents an interesting view on student fashion habits in Fasion: Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve:

'Come on guys, you didn't go through school days as clones, just to become trend sheep at university. This is your chance to wear absolutely anything you like, before you graduate and get a sensible job with a haircut to match!'


Megan x

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Ten Free Ways to Enrich Your Day

Photo thanks to love, loren

Celebrate every moment of your day with these ten simple concepts:

♥ Smile at anybody and everybody. Rarely will you fail to get a smile back if you really flash a big’un and it can be such a mood-booster to get an honest grin in return. You are not alone in this world; the people you float past everyday are on the journey with you, as detached as your life may seem from theirs. Connect with them, if only for a second.

♥ Entertain yourself purely with the power of your own imagination. Undress the hot guy on the bus; consider the story behind a piece of graffiti; be somebody else for 10 minutes, whoever you want to be; compose a music video to whatever song is stuck in your head; find style inspiration everywhere making mental notes of how to recreate a look with items in your own wardrobe.

♥ Smell the flowers.

♥ Dance, alone or with someone you love, at home, in the garden, on the street, or at your favourite club. Dance daily, enjoy it, express yourself, feel no shame.

♥ Sing. Turn a mundane moment into a sing-song Enchanted style. I’m a sucker for this one. ‘I’m making a sandwiiiich.’ ‘Don’t forget to turn the light oooout.’ Sing your day away, even if you only hum or sing in your head.

♥ Be thankful. Say ‘cheers’ to the bus driver and mean it. Tip the waitress. Say ‘pleased to meet you’ and show your pleasure with a smile. Be gracious, heartfelt, and liberal with your praise. Be thankful that you are where you are today because you never have the promise of tomorrow.

♥ Get all European. Kiss the people you meet on both cheeks when saying hello and goodbye.

♥ Laugh. If nothing’s funny, pretend to laugh until that gets so funny your laughter becomes real. Do this with a friend or several for maximised enjoyment.

♥ If you’ve had a busy day, wander through a bookshop or library and soak up the silence. Appreciate the peace to be found between the pages of an intriguing book and give yourself up to it.

♥ Enjoy the weather whatever it’s doing, even if it’s the absolute opposite of what you think it should be. It’s something you can’t change so embrace it. If it’s warm this one is easy, but if it’s sweltering, blowing a gale or arctic-cold you need to work a little harder. Enjoy adapting your days outfit to it because if you’re suitably attired the weather shouldn’t bother you. Think why the weather is as it is (has all the rain left your surroundings green and lush?) Appreciate your world in all its many shades of glory.

What little things do you do daily to make life that bit sweeter? What never fails to put a smile on your face? Comment away! 

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Money, Honey Part III: Maximising Your Income

Picture thanks to boopsiedaisy

(Be sure to peruse parts I and II first!)

'Student’ and ‘income’, they aren’t two words one would usually put together. Students live on borrowed money, don’t they? And if not, surely it’s come straight from daddy’s wallet, and that doesn’t constitute income…does it?

Rule Numero Uno of a fabulous life on a student budget, dolls, is getting as much money as you can and spending it wisely. How do you do this? Getting what you’re entitled to, getting smart and getting a job.

‘No! Not a job!’ I here you cry. ‘Student jobs are for nerds, I’m getting into debt anyway, why waste my time? Surely it’s better to just enjoy myself and focus on my degree?’

All valid points, however, in a job you enjoy, for the right hours, and for the right pay, you’re definitely onto a winner.

Let’s do a little, light mathematics.

♥ Hypothetical Jenny doesn’t have a job alongside her studies. She loves uni life, in fact, she adores it. She’s out socialising practically every night of the week spending her loan on cheap drinks at the SU bar, how else would she have met so many cool people?

On average, hypothetical Jenny clocks up about 6 hours on a decent night out, 4 times a week. Let’s say she buys 1 drink at £2.00 every hour of these 24 hours a week she spends ‘socialising’. That’s £48 a week on booze alone; I’m not even including entry fees and 2am kebab-fests.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this. Jenny sounds like a party animal, she’s probably a blast on a night out and you’re likely to meet a truckload of students like her. But is Jenny clever?

Here’s another example:

♥ Hypothetical Martin has chosen to work a part-time job alongside his studies. He works 2 shifts a week in a local bar. This totals 16 hours a week at £5.25 an hour, therefore hypothetical Martin earns himself £84 extra income each week. He loves uni life, in fact, he adores it, but he also loves his job.

Each night after work hypothetical Martin and the other bar staff grab a free drink and hit the clubs before they close up. He’s made a bigger circle of mates, he still has 5 other nights in the week to go out if he so chooses, but generally he finds that a night working at the bar can be as fun (and exhausting!) as a night out. So hypothetical Martin spends half as much money as hypothetical Jenny on ‘socialising’ plus he has an extra income every week that she doesn’t.

Who’s feeling better about money at the end of every term?

Quite clearly, these are hypothetical examples dreamed up by yours truly and they are not accurate in all cases. Some jobs are terrible, with bad people and bad pay, but that’s not the kind of job you’re going to hang on to – just get a new one! It is possible to have a part time job you can really enjoy, where you’ll meet new people, earn extra dough, and generally feel better about yourself. These jobs don’t fall into your lap though; you have to go after them. Something in the region of 80% of jobs never even get advertised… Think about it! Then get out there, armed with a shiny CV. Read this too if you're keen to ace an upcoming job interview.

Maybe not every student is like hypothetical Jenny, maybe they are more sensible with their money, but still, getting an extra income will only ever benefit them.

What about your degree? I’m not advocating working any hours that you feel will impact on your studies but, seriously, anyone who has at least the organisational skills to get themselves out of a paper bag can surely figure out a way to work a job at a maximum of 16 hours per week and still feel they have the energy to put into their next essay. Wake up earlier, work somewhere that’s just 5 minutes walking distance, get off Facebook for a few hours out of the week. Just be honest with yourself and you’ll probably find that a part time job is achievable.

If you’re clawing at the screen protesting that you study Law at Oxford and have about 2 nanoseconds of spare time every fortnight, then my thoughts are with you and, just because I like the sound of you, here’s a shining alternative… Holiday work!

♥ Get a work placement in an industry that matches what you’re studying; this means you’ll be in the money and learning on the job which future employers will salivate over.

♥ Work and travel; get some life experience, move out of your comfort zone and again, earn some money! There are a thousand and one programs you can participate in over your summer break. Camp America, PGL, Au Pairing, and Sunsail to name only a few.

♥ Go home and work in your local supermarket… maybe it sucks in the short-term but set yourself goals, understand why you’re there (it isn’t forever!) keep plenty of time for fun and socialising and at the start of term when your bank balance is out of the red for once, how great will you feel?

Basically, my darlings, it is all down to you. Straight-talking to yourself and working as much as you viably can without it affecting your degree (or positive mental attitude!) will leave you with happy cash. What’s happy cash? Cash that you’ve earned, cash you don’t have to repay to some smug-faced bureaucrat, cash that burns a hole in your pocket, cash you can put towards two weeks in Ibiza, a massive pub crawl, those new winter boots you’ve had your eye on, or 10 tonnes of Nutella – whatever the heck you want!

Go! Seek that job that makes you smile!

That’s it for the three part Money, Honey series. Hopefully it has given you the basis on which to build your fabulous life on that weeny student budget!

Remember these three golden rules when it comes to student money:

Budget ♥ Be spend savvy, know your income and outgoings down to the last penny.
Get to grips with your debt ♥ Don’t ignore it in the hope that the debt genie will one day pay it off for you. It isn’t that scary; make it work in your favour.
Maximise your income ♥ Get off your booty and earn some extra bucks!

So, was the series as dull as an evening in with your great aunt Prudence? (It can’t be that bad if you read all the way to the end!) Was it curiously helpful? Something I didn’t cover? Comment away!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Money, Honey Part II: That Thing Called Debt

Picture thanks to toff955

(Read Part 1 first)

Unavoidably, modern day western life is all about the dough, the mullah, the mean greens. We crave it, money brings status, it brings stability, and it brings down right glamour! And not one of these words would we ever freely associate with student life. But, my sweets, it doesn’t have to be this way, no no!

Alright, so I’m not implying you can retire at 21 and drive off into the sunset in your Bentley, but glamour is yours for the taking, it’s just about using your noggin.

Don’t be afraid of student debt, but be realistic, this is money you have to pay back at some point, and if you ever want the Bentley dream to come true, you need to be mindful of the amount you’re stacking up.

A typical UK graduate can leave university in anywhere from £18,000 up to (and in excess of!) £30,000 worth of debt, ouch! But don’t press that panic button just yet. By simply understanding your debt, you can be in control of this amount and you’ll see it doesn’t have to be so scary.

Your student debt can come in more than one form.

Firstly: your government loan. If we accept that, at some point in life, debt is quite necessary, for example: when getting on the property ladder or buying your first family people carrier (joy of joys!) then student debt is the best kind you’re ever likely to get offered. It works like this: you borrow X amount, you pay X amount back. Yes, there is interest to consider, but this won't run much above inflation, you should only be paying back the 'portion' you borrowed. Money, pound for pound and across the board, will just be worth more.

If my explanation of this leaves your head reeling check out this.

The second, slightly scarier version of student debt is your 0% overdraft which any student account worth its salt will offer. By all means go for this facility. In fact, get the biggest overdraft you can (some student accounts offer up to £3,000!) but, a word of warning, be careful what you do with this money. Banks aren’t offering you this out of the goodness of their hearts, they’re not sat around a shiny board room table up in skyscraper heaven thinking ‘hopefully little Jimmy will be kind enough to pay off his overdraft one day...’ No siree. They’re thinking ‘reel the suckers in then, when they least expect it, we’ll hit’em with the interest.’ Banks reserve the right to demand their money back at any point and, if you can’t pay up, that little amount you owe will start to increase. I’m not talking inflation either. I’m talking that evil of all evils: bank charges. As soon as you stop being a student, if you’re not careful, your account may revert itself to standard commercial interest rates and what you owe will sky rocket.

Why then, have I inclined you to obtain this facility? Because, if you’re clever, you can actually make money from your overdraft. Think about it, if you can manage to get by on your loan, whatever you get from your parents and a part-time job; whack the full amount of your overdraft in a high interest savings account and at the end of three years you pay it back with cash to spare. Genius.

If you save £1000 over 3 years at a 6% interest rate that leaves you with £1,191.02

And that, kids, is free money.

A word to the wise however: don’t lock your money away in a fixed rate or regular savers account. Although these facilities have tempting interest rates, you want to be able to access this money as you never know what’s around the corner. If you try to get at this money before the end of a specified period, guess what? Bank charges!

Ideally, go for a mini-cash ISA as there are some pretty neat interest rates out there and you won’t pay tax on this money either. Do your research here.

The third slice of the pie that is student money will be all other kinds of commercial debt; student credit cards, standard bank loans and such. Trust me, you want to get into hell and high water before even contemplating this kind of debt. This is the debt with sneaky charges; this most certainly isn’t ‘free’ money. This is stupid money. Avoid it like the plague.

A teeny clause in this argument though, would be to take advantage of your student credit card, again keeping it smart! In life, a good credit score will fair thee well, and at this point in life is the time to start building yours up. Don’t think no credit = good credit. No credit = (what a coincidence…) no credit. Banks don’t like this. For whatever you may want to borrow in the future, banks want to see that you’ve borrowed, and paid back, and that other banks fancied your custom enough to let you do this.

So use this little card of yours but by golly be careful. Spend in small amounts, take advantage of 0% interest, and repay before you even get a sniff of those evil charges. Et Voila! A good credit score.

So, you’re thinking: where does glamour come into all this? The first step to glamour, darlings, is smarts. Being smart with your dough in this way, means more for now, more for the future, and a warm, fuzzy feeling of cunning at beating the system…

(Now read Part III on maximising your income)

Monday, 18 August 2008

Money, Honey Part I: Budgeting

Image thanks to Banksy

So, you’ve picked your ideal degree, got your place, discovered you only need 40% to pass in your first year and set about planning 12 months of fun and frolics, when those dreaded words are mentioned: student finance.

Hang on... now mum and dad are so far away, what happens when you’re desperate for that £20 towards new shoes? What about that night at the student union? You know you can’t afford it but you just have to go.

And herein lays the conundrum. What is a fresher to do? All those social engagements and not a penny to spare; all those new people you're meeting, of course you want to keep your image tip-top, but those £80 stints in Topshop are no more seeing as you can barely afford your weekly ration of beans on toast…

Let’s face up to it, come on now, no cowering behind that computer chair. You’re in deep, and if you’re not yet, you may well soon be if you don’t keep a check on what you’re spending. Money, that elusive thing your parents always dealt out and that maybe you had the odd wedge of after slaving away at a menial job – but that soon went on £3 double vodka Redbull’s and bargain heels – all of a sudden it’s vital. It’s your lifeline.

Money = Survival.

Haven’t yet considered this? Nattered away ecstatically to all your friends about the joys of 0% overdrafts and ‘free’ money from the government? Sorry to rain on the parade kids, but that’s not free money, that’s your debt.

But never fear! It isn’t all doom and gloom. I come baring more than just white-knuckle home truths. I’ve got gift-wrapped solutions just for you.

Money: You want it. More often than not, as a student, you just won’t have enough. How about we see if we can make what you do have work hard for you?

Firstly, and most importantly, you need to budget. There’s that word, I can hear you scoffing at it already, but it’s not just for married couples with two kids and a dog called Buster, it’s an essential for any type of money management, particularly that of a spend-thrift student.

Here are my key tips for budgeting:
  • Know your outgoings. I’m talking down to the last £/$. Keep receipts if necessary, file paper statements in a sparkly folder or regularly check your online bank. You need to have an accurate picture of exactly where your money goes or you’ll get to those poverty stricken days at the end of the month thinking: ‘where did that 40 quid go?’
  • Know your income. Seems obvious, but know your outgoings and your income and, hey presto, you can avoid any nasty surprises like ridiculous bank charges for unplanned overdrafts. Include your loan, part-time job, plus any bursaries and parental income, but avoid that tempting 0% overdraft for now… (more on that one to come!)
  • Keep records of all of this, and I don’t mean scribble it on the back of a bus ticket, I mean keep a notepad, a journal or even an Excel spreadsheet for the more geek-chic! Think it’s dorky all you like, but give it a go, even for just a couple of days, you’ll be amazed at exactly how much you spend on biscuits and hair removal products.
  • Compile a list of essential outgoings for each month, and ladies, I’m talking genuine essentials, like rent, not cherry lip balm and half pound bars of Galaxy chocolate (these come under extras!) Once you’ve done this you can calculate any spare cash and divvy it up at your delightful discretion. No one wants to live like a recluse. Make sure to budget for extras like nights out, and then add at least 10% of your toal on top of this as a comfortable piggy bank for those unexpected spends like it being your mum’s birthday tomorrow.
  • Consider separate accounts for things like bills, rent and every day spends. For example: use your new student account for general spending, and your existing current account for regular outgoings. Set up standing orders between them and make sure you’re always covered for costs. Dividing and organising where your money is and when it’s leaving your sweaty grip will result in you feeling a lot more in control and, more importantly, it’ll avoid that forgotten phone bill that went out of your account unnoticed and left you dangerously overdrawn.

Feeling lazy? Try one of these online budgeting tools: Average / Good / Better

There are loads out there so don’t limit yourself, search out the one best suited to you. Print out your results and learn from them! Any tips to share? Comment away!

(And then read parts II and III in the Money, Honey series)

Words To Live By

As it's Monday I thought I'd offer up a quote for the week:

"To have courage for whatever comes in life - everything lies in that."
Saint Teresa of Avila

Are you living by any words of wisdom this week? Comment away!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

The Saturday Salute 16.08.08

Picture Thanks to Ben Lawson

ere it is, my first ever Saturday Salute, a weekly nod towards all that has charmed and intrigued me on the great wide web over the past seven days.

Just for fun. It's A Wonderful Internet.

How to Make a Whole New Wardrobe by Recycling Your Clothes. Some really good tips. Just add time!

10 Tips To Save On Haircare. Frugal suggestions aplenty!

If you're after up to date hair inspiration for your next cut, forget expensive magazines, head to Urban Outfitters website for the most gorgeous of do's. I personally adore this girl's style, long hair is such a luxury, and the colour is beautifully subtle. Could I pull off the heavy fringe...? Time will tell. Find a do you fancy, print, and take in to your hairdresser.

If you've got enough ink in your printer, print out a copy of this and stick it somewhere where you'll see it everyday. Unadulterated, daily inspiration!

The Size Of Our World. Prepare to have your mind well and truly boggled.

My first glance at the works of Shel Silverstein. What a cool guy.

Dog Diary vs. Cat Diary. The only way you could possibly not laugh at this is if you've never owned a cat or dog.

Selling Sex to Study. Times Online reports on the drastic measures some students will take to avoid the dreaded debt. What do you think?

Thursday, 14 August 2008


"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."
- Joseph Campbell

...and getting paid for it. I truly feel privileged to be captain of this love boat I call Charade, and I feel ecstatic when I'm rewarded financially for it. If you want to know a little more about the way I might be rewarded, read on.

As a blog, Charade accepts paid sponsorship and compensation for reviews in various forms. Sometimes (not currently very often!) I may have been paid, or have received a free product, to promote a product within a post, or receive a commission if you purchase a product that I advertise. Be sure that I will never promote a product that I don't love myself, and, where possible, I will be clear of any motives towards financial gain or otherwise.

If you would like to advertise on Charade, find more information here.

This website is built on authentic, honest opinion, but it is only that - opinion. I don't claim to be qualified in areas of style consultation, self-help, health, or any other topic covered within the blog. I merely offer my individual viewpoint and experience.

Here's where I go all legal mumbo-jumbo:

The information contained in this blog is for general entertainment and information purposes only. The information is provided by Charade and it's publisher, Megan Hayes, and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

Through this blog you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of Charade and it's publisher. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.

This blog is powered by and therefore the publisher takes no responsibility for, and will not be liable for, the blog being temporarily unavailable due to technical issues beyond our control.

If any of this is unclear or you would like to discuss it further, please email me:

Thanks for reading!

‘A’ Level Results: How'd you do?

1, 2, 3

Congratulations and, unfortunately, commiserations are surely due on this eventful day. You might be grinning from ear to ear, you might be wailing like an old Spanish widow.

How did you do? And what’s next?

Got exactly the grades you wanted?
Yay you! Your first choice university beckons; the world is your oyster, and all that jazz. If you worked like a donkey, retook countless exams and nearly killed yourself with dusk-til-dawn revision sessions then you should be seriously proud of yourself.

Though don’t just give yourself a pat on the back and be done with it. How about a little reward, something special from you to you? Goals are important in life, but what’s a goal without gratification? Sure, your incentive was the grades and, looking at the bigger picture, they’re probably going to be your biggest prize, but they’re academic, in reality they’re just a step on the ladder. They might make you feel pleased as punch when you first rip open that envelope, but your hard work deserves something extra.

People will probably be congratulating you left, right and centre. How about congratulating yourself?

A present from you to you can come in many personalized forms, as all good presents should, and you don’t even have to spend any money (though by all means do!) Treat yourself to several hours of uninterrupted self-indulgence; it’s the best stress-buster! Be it watching 6 of your all-time favourite movies back to back, writing a poem about how downright fantastic you are, going out dancing at the cheesiest club you know, shoe shopping, giving yourself a home facial or all day bed Olympics with that someone special: whatever tickles your fancy. If you’re feeling really chuffed with yourself, why not all of the above?

It doesn’t matter what you do, just get set to reward yourself. It’s so often a rarity for most of us to truly recognise our successes, big or small, and treat ourselves accordingly, especially you over-achievers! You did good, and undoubtedly there are plenty more opportunities to do so again just shimmering away on the horizon, now’s the time to stop and thank yourself before the rollercoaster starts up again.

What says ‘Well-bloody-done!’ in the most profound way, to you?

Exam results not quite what you’d hoped for?
Or is that understatement of the century?
Try not to let it get you down. There are a million and one alternatives and although everything may seem hopeless right now, I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason.

So you didn’t get into Cambridge? 10 years down the line you might be caring for orang-utans in Borneo and realise it was the best thing that ever happened to you, you really never know.

Get your head out of your hands, and get going again. Write down how you feel, pour your heart out if need be, and then provide your own answers. What do you need to do to get where you want to be? If it boils down to a complete retake, then do it. If you realise that perhaps university was never for you in the first place, then hallelujah! Maybe those results were placed in your hand for a reason. Take a gap year, jump on a plane to the farthest corner of the globe and ‘discover the real you.’ As clich├ęd as it sounds; it just might be what you need.


Life isn’t just about the here and now, it’s about the journey. The tapestry of your life is made up of thousands of moments, some good, some down right depressing. It’s down to you how you craft and style these moments into your ultimate existence.

Don’t let the system get you down. Just because some dude you’ll never meet put a cross through some paragraph on Stalin that you don’t even remember writing, doesn’t mean you’re any less of the wonderful person you were yesterday. Don’t beat yourself up. Build a bridge and get over it, it’s the only way you’ll find yourself somewhere else, somewhere better.

  • Check out this great article from TheSite.Org. It’ll give you the push you need to get an action plan together. Yes, life does go on!
  • Give the National Results Helpline a call on 0808 100 8000 if you need to talk to someone other than your squawking parents, jammy friends or stuffy tutors.

So how did you do? And what’s your next step? Comment away!

Megan x