When studying for a PhD, it can feel as though you’re doing so with very little reward.
Sure, the qualifications will be worth it in the end, but the added struggle of trying to make ends meet while living off of a fairly small research stipend can become quite overwhelming.
Luckily, there are some ways in which you can make your life a bit easier and still focus on your studies.
Supporting Yourself Through Your Doctorate – Side Job
This is a tough thing to decide on. If you’re really struggling for money, you’re likely going to be weighing up whether or not it’s worth getting a part-time job while studying for a PhD. The amount of work that goes into earning your doctorate can take up a huge amount of your time though, so getting a job on top of that can be a bit much. If you’re set on getting a job to help boost your income though, it’s important to figure out if your course has any rules on doing this or not. Ideally, you should try to find a job that enhances your skills and potentially advances your career. This could be research internships over the summer, or even freelance writing for academic papers. You could also choose to teach university students part-time. Whatever you decide to do, don’t let it interfere with your studies.
Supporting Yourself Through Your Doctorate – Living Arrangements
A PhD stipend is on average between £15,000 and £17,000 per year. This is a fair amount, especially if you’re living with a partner. If you’re on your own, you’ll want to find a home that has affordable monthly payments, or even consider living with a family member and paying a reasonable amount for board. On the other hand, and contrary to popular belief, it’s actually possible to get yourself a mortgage using your stipend. Of course, your best bet is to combine this with a partner who is earning a non-stipend salary, but there are some lenders that accept a stipend for a mortgage application. This will likely be due to the understanding that you’ll be able to earn a much higher salary after graduating and are demonstrating great dedication and commitment by undertaking a PhD. If you want to learn more about how a stipend mortgage works, there’s a useful guide on Jamie Thompson Mortgages which outlines the key questions you’ll want answering.
Supporting Yourself Through Your Doctorate – Food Budgeting
When it comes to surviving on your stipend alone, the most important considerations are having somewhere to live and being able to eat. We recommend putting aside a specific amount of money for food and living payments each month to ensure you’ll always have these covered. Budgeting for your food is very important as nothing can sap your morale more than running low on sustenance, especially during long study and work sessions.
Supporting Yourself Through Your Doctorate – Luxury Purchases
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from treating yourself every now and again. After all, you’re putting a lot of time and effort into your work, and it can be beneficial to engage in occasional retail therapy, so you don’t burn out. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending some of your excess stipend that hasn’t gone on essential bills and travel expenses, on occasional nights out or luxury purchases. Just as you budget for these essentials, put some aside for these monthly treats too and carry that amount over to the following month if it’s unused.