The Perils of the Student Loan

Think the golden ticket to Charlie’s chocolate factory, except the ticket is on loan and boasts interest rates of up to 6.3%. Now that, would make a terrifying black mirror episode.

I’ve always been a fan of the student loan. “Free money” is what I say to my mum every time she scowls at my frivolous spending. “In fact, Mum, it’s the best loan you’ll ever get thank you very much”, I exasperate and shrug, smugly. Make it rain, use it as toilet roll, make a piñata with the new waterproof, indestructible bank notes. Whatever your fetish, relish in it, before it all comes tumbling down. Like a ton of bricks, or a dozen tins of baked beans, reserved for my assortment of bean medleys. A humbling end of term treat.

The student loan, a necessity for most people to, well, survive but also, for many, the first time we truly encounter the burden of budgeting. Now budgeting is never something I’ve really understood. The concept doesn’t really sit well with me and to be brutally honest, I’m not sure I can see a place for it in my life. If Philip Hammond can’t do it, then I don’t want to! And he’s got a way larger deficit than me.

My student loan, the bottomless bag of popcorn, the gift that keeps on giving, until it doesn’t. Now that’s the bit I struggle with. The doesn’t part. You see, I have that really rare revolting disease called “I Just can’t say no” and it’s starting to become quite problematic. Urban Outfitters have a sale? Grand. Snugly in my overdraft? No problem, drinks on me. Now in my fourth year of university, I’ve hung my head in shame on numerous occasions. Seeking repentance, fluttering my eyelashes and shedding a tear whilst explaining the dire situation of my finances, to my poor, undeserving parents. Promising myself that this will be the last time I take advantage and act like a spoilt brat, running back due to the gluttony of my debit card. Mum, baccy is really expensive. 

Fully aware of sounding privileged and annoying, I can assure you I have scrubbed toilets and worked tills to pay them back for their generosity. But do I ever learn? The answer would be a big resounding no. No matter how hard I ration my caffeine dependencies, I bludgeon all good intentions with a few unforgiving mouse clicks. A creature of habit, it’s always times of intense stress and academic anguish, (to which there’s many), that lead me to bulldoze my path to self-destruction. Essays are generally the killer, the crux in my armour if you will, and online shopping is my enabler. Determined to invest all my efforts into concentration, all good intentions disintegrate in the presence of a few online adverts.Maybe I am just inept to deal with the temptations of modern society, an evolutionary failure amongst those equipped with even an ounce of self-control.

With the residue of sale items fogging my browser, distracting the master (of procrastination) at work, it’s hardly unforgivable that I should get reeled in. There should be an extending circumstances for student spending. Typing “what is a synonym of argue” into google, I only seek to spruce up my essay. A spot of literary spring cleaning – some afternoon shopping at thesaurus.com. But there I am, engrossed in “The words of 2018” section, when suddenly my trance is penetrated by a rather obnoxious looking advert. Frustration as my screen is ostentatiously flashing, items of clothing spinning, one by one, like a hyperactive Rubik's cube. Clicking erratically, I try to dismiss the advert but ohh, one second. Is that a Bershka, 70% off sale? Funny because I was just thinking about Bershka, maybe it’s a sign. Maybe I’ve ‘manifested’ the biggest sale they’ve ever had and they’re flogging everything for two quid. Ok. Fine. A quick look. Budgets and 6% interest rates blur into the cavernous depths of my consciousness as I stare glaze eyed, mouth open, just scrolling. Numbers morph into metaphors and anecdotes as I imagine myself in array of social scenarios, prancing around in my new garments.

Within the hour, my basket is rotund and my essay emaciated. Balance, another thing I don’t do but today, I will. Such a productive day. Glugging anything dangerously caffeinated, I secure my hair in place and open my word document. My breathing, controlled, my mind, ready to construct my seminal piece. I am a scholar, a visionary, an intellect, I push my glasses up my nose for the 16th time and ponder my next sentence. 250 words out of 3000, right. Now that isn’t that bad, I shake my head in disapproval, tutting at the fast writers of the world. Well deserved, I congratulate, now back to the emporium.

Scrolling through my basket I scan to see if all my items are still there. f*$k the leopard print bodysuit has sold out!! How can it be?! Bespoke leopard print is alien around these parts! I am a maverick in the Bristol scene! This is a disaster. Charged with adrenaline, I’m more than qualified to deal with such pressure. Erratically clicking any item half decent, I am in full frontal shopper’s delusion. I won’t be the weakest link this time Anne Robinson. Not. This. Time. The miniskirt has replaced the vodka soda but my beer googles are out in full force, I’m adding unnecessary items for good measure at this point.

And… the magic click.  It does feel good and it’s certainly cheaper than therapy.

I lean back, a substantial dint to my loan, but that’s a problem for a different day.

I set my WhatsApp picture to a visionary of Snoop Dog with his harem of long haired hounds. This is the good life.

And there you have it, the perils of a student loan.