And so it begins…

So! Summer holidays are well and truly over! The kids are back to school and it’s now safe to venture into shopping centre mid week again. Thank the Lord! I took a well needed break from pretty much everything and am ready to close this year on a high. 
So back to business. Uni officially starts for me on Tuesday 29th September and today I received my timetable for the induction fortnight. A little while ago I posted my “shopping list” and I’ll give you an update on that later. (It’s looking good!) You may have also spotted my desk in the Instagram feed below but I’ll be posting more details about my home office and study area set up later on. 

  
I’ve literally spent the past few weeks networking with some freshers from my uni and building a little Whatsapp group and trying to organise my life. It’s going well I think. I’ve devised a working pattern based on a sample timetable I got from someone going into year 2 and so far it’s looking promising. If I can stick to it, I might have time to sleep 😆 But seriously, I’m feeling so refreshed and motivated to get things done and I’m not prepared to lose momentum! I’ve invested in a Me and My Big Ideas Create 365 Happy Planner to help get me organised and it is working so well! At the moment I just map out my week and appointments but I intend to include meal plans and build in some sort of study plan aswell. I’m slowly easing myself into the world of planning (it’s actually quite a big thing!) and have started a little collection of washi tape, stamps and stickers already. Go me! Anyway watch this space as I’m getting a bit obsessed haha! 
  

   

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My Life Plan

So where am I now and how do I feel about it? Honestly? I’m in a good place. I’m happy. Even typing this, I’ve had to stop and think “am I really happy or am I just saying it because I don’t want readers to think I’m a sad wreck?” I can hand on heart say, life is good. It’s not without its challenges, but life is good. I remember being a fresh-faced 16 year old, making what I thought were over ambitious plans for myself but not really having much focus. 10 years later and a mixture of life and love has seen me go down different paths. I’m a 26 years old, single mother to THE most amazing 5 year old (we’ll come to him another time), I have a great job and career that I love and am about to embark on the next chapter of my life that will see me finally go to university. As it goes, if I died tomorrow, I would be proud of what I’ve accomplished but I want more. For those that have read my post on “Starting a Business”, you’ll know I’m a massive advocate of writing a business plan and reviewing it regularly. As far as I’m concerned, my life is my business so you better believe I have a plan! I’ve reviewed it regularly, sense-checked my progress and often changed it in response to life events and different paths I’ve found myself on. At 16, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I was going to do A levels and wanted to work in either Law, Banking or Medicine so opted in to Maths, Chemistry and Biology. Although I’ve always been quite smart, I quickly discovered I lacked drive and motivation and only now realise it’s because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was stuck in that common rut of “I have to continue my studies but I have no clue what I’m doing”. Towards the end of the first year, I applied for a “summer job” at a bank and then decided to stay and take a gap year. That gap year lasted 9 years (whoops!) but my goodness I needed it! During that time, I set myself a goal that my salary must always be higher than my age. Simple, maybe somewhat shallow, but a goal is a goal and it’s kept me on my toes. In those 9 years, I’ve climbed and bank hopped to my current position and built up a nice little knowledge bank but also professional network. Whilst my work has given me a lot of exposure to the legal profession, I’ve found my interest in the law has come mainly from helping friends and family out of tricky situations so it was only right that I consulted my trusty “life plan” and see how I could further develop myself. To date, I haven’t documented my plan but as Habbakuk says, “write the vision, and make it plain…” and so this week, I’m off to buy a journal to write down my vision for my life that I can regularly review and support with affirmations and wise words. In terms of detail, I’m not sure how deep I’m going to go with it, but I’m trying a lil thing! 

Watch this space x

The Budget 2015 – Student Maintenance

So with today’s budget announcement, I thought I’d quickly put my own views and thoughts on the matter out there. There were so many points covered but not all are either applicable to me or interest me so I’ll just stick to a few. I’ll probably address one or two over a period of time as there’s lots to talk about.

Within my own circles, opinion is very much split and not surprisingly, this is because some parts affect some more than others. How do I feel about it? Generally, I’m quite unaffected but maybe after jotting my thoughts down this will change. We’ll see.

So to kick off I’ll start with the change to Student Maintenance. From September 2016 Student Maintenance Grants will be scrapped. From the Twitter uproar, I think a lot of people stopped listening at that point but what does this really mean, who will it affect and how?

I think it helps to understand what the grant is in the first instance. According to studentparents.org, it is a non-repayable grant to help cover the cost of living expenses and if you started after 2012, this can be up to £3387. The grant is means tested and so is really for students coming from a lower income household. This is in addition to the maintenance loan that does need to be repaid. Please bear in mind, that for every £1 of grant you get, the loan reduces by 50p meaning that students from lower income households have less of a student debt to pay back than their more well off counterparts.

Today, George Osborne announced that “…from 2016/17 academic year, we will replace maintenance grants with loans for new students, loans that only have to be paid back once they earn over £21,000 a year.” So that’s the what. In a nutshell, the free money the government gave to students from poorer backgrounds is no longer free and will need to be repaid. The good news is that the new loans available will be £8200, which is an increase of £766 compared to 2015/16.

I tweeted Student Finance England this afternoon as I’ll be starting my degree this September but wanted to clarify who these changes will affect. Luckily, they got back to me quite quickly so I can confirm that these changes affect NEW students from 2016/17 so current students will continue to receive the current system of ‘grant and loan’ for the remainder of their course. Whoopty do!

In all honesty, I’m relieved it doesn’t affect me but I really had nothing to worry about. Even if these changes did affect me, it’s so important to remember that all this change means is that the size of loan you have to repay is bigger than if you started in 2015/16 for example. The amount you repay, so far, remains unchanged at 9% of earnings above £21k from the April after graduation. All this means is that it will take longer to pay off the debt as there will be more of it but let’s face it, most people won’t pay back all of their loan anyway as it gets written off after 30 years. The real losers here are the high earners as they will pay a lot more of their loan in the long run.

So what’s my message? Chill! It’s not great news, but if you are starting your course when these changes take effect, repayment is not an issue until you start earning and is a percentage of that income. Go get your education and worry about the rest AFTER!

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