4th unfunded year, bills to pay and need a job!



I've just started my third and final funded year and it's going to be really tight getting my thesis submitted by 25th September 2015 and even so I need to be earning money from 1st October 2015 as this is when my funding runs out and my bills are due!

I can support myself comfortable on £1000 a month while finishing off my thesis/looking for something more permanent if needs be. At a stretch I can support myself on a couple hundred less (I know this from doing my undergrad!). I'm in the process of saving enough money to support me for 2 months (October/November 2015) if needed and I have a couple of emergency credit cards too.

Everyone else in my department lives with parents already and I don't have (and wouldn't really want tbh) this option.

I'm wondering how other full-timers/funded PhD's have managed. I have no idea how early/late to leave it before applying for jobs. As early as July or as late as September? I'm on track to have a full draft finished by 1st July. In an ideal world if I'm still finishing off, I'll get a part time research associate/assistant job for 2/3 days per week and that will give me both the time and the income I need.

How are others managing the end of funding, need for time and income situation?


I was also self-funded. I used to take every temp and PT job out there. From fast food work to doing translations for publishing houses. It is possible to fund yourself if you have a part time job. You may not enjoy it, but hey, it will pay the bills.


Thanks marasp. I guess the back up plan in always fast-food or cleaning jobs etc... I've got lots of pub, cleaning and some carework experience so I hopefully won't be short of minimum wage opportunities. Just with time being an issues, I'd rather work 18 hours in an RA job than 38 hours cleaning/serving food for the same £1000 a month (as I'm sure we all would!) After the thing is in and submitted I would probably welcome a 3 month break in a low-pay low-responsibility job! :)



I also was not funded in the last and final year.

I did some consultancy/ RA jobs (which pay very little), but I really suffered, as I had less and less time to write-up, so I entered a vicious cycle that I would have to work for 4 weeks to afford to take two weeks off for the PhD. The last few months, it was almost there, and I hardly had any time to give the final push.

It was absolutely miserable, as I didn't have any money and couldn't afford dinner everyday. I am not joking, I lost about 10% of my body weight because of skipping meal. My supervisor wouldn't agree for me going back to my parents for the last few months. Proofreading service, printing and binding the PhD.... that was the last stroke that broke the camel's back.

Even now, after submitting the PhD, things are not much better, as I had to push out the last two publications (which were almost there), apply for academic jobs (which takes ages to do a decent cover letter) and write a research proposal (a chance in cats hell). My non-academic friends did not understand why I don't just get ANY job. I am in no position to give advice, but in MY case, working in consultancy/RA jobs, (although poorly paid) gave a boost to my CV. I am quite proud of the side publications that came out of it.


This can be a really difficult time and it’s rare for things to work out perfectly. £1000 a month isn’t too much so hopefully you will find a balance that earns you enough money without taking too much time and energy. I started working full-time as soon as I finished my first draft (which was also when my funding ran out). The job is mentally demanding and unenjoyable and weekends and annual leave are for the thesis. I’m pretty much there now with the thesis (waiting for feedback on corrections) but life has been all work and no play for almost a year and it's taken its toll. Meanwhile, people who started their PhDs long after me have finished before me because they've had support from parents or partners, or just managed to arrange their lives better, and could devote most of their time to the final push. I know we shouldn't compare but I’ve found this difficult psychologically if I’m honest.

However, needs must. I'm very lucky that I can pay my bills and it’s short-term pain for long-term gain, hopefully there will be a better job on the horizon. And I really enjoyed the first couple of years of the PhD - I still think it's a huge privilege to be given funding to do one - so I try to think of it in terms of the overall experience and keep positive.

You'll muddle through somehow, GrumpyMule. Starting to save is a good idea.


I'm in my fourth (unfunded) year now. I applied for additional funding but didn't get anything. I think I will submit by March 2015 at the earliest, and realistically I need to be able to support myself until June or July 2015...

Actually it's not been as bad as I thought it would be. I tried working a temp job for a month but I couldn't handle being told what to do by stupid people... even though I needed the cash I just couldn't put up with it. I now earn about £400 per month doing work in the department (demonstrating, tutorials, leading discussion groups) It's £12 to £16 per hour and I enjoy it too, so it's great. This is enough to support myself with the savings I have. I think if you can get a part time job within the department it's the best thing to do.

The downside is it cuts heavily into my time and means I can only write up my thesis for a couple of days a week, as I also still haven't finished my lab work so I'm trying to do that too.

I think I will only start looking for jobs once I have submitted my thesis, so I hope 2 -3 months is going to be enough time to find something permanent in research.


I've recently started a partially funded PhD and it is really challenging in terms of time management and dealing with anxiety and uncertainty that comes with temporary jobs I've had so far. I hope this will improve when I find something more stable.
Unfortunately, there are no paid work prospects in my department, but everyone has been really supportive and helped me in networking.

@marasp, I'd be grateful for any advice on approaching publishing houses in the UK?


@marasp, I'd be grateful for any advice on approaching publishing houses in the UK?

So, there are two things you can do in order to make some money with regards to publishing houses.

Option One: you email publishing houses directly and you tell them what you are offering, attaching your CV. You can offer editing / translation / proofreading services. Most say no, but I have had a few saying yes to translations and offering me the odd job every now and then.

Option Two: if plan number one doesn't work for you, you can make money by becoming an academic book reviewer. That's what I do, because I hit two birds with one stone and I also support my own research: I tell publishing houses that I want to review said book (I am a very experienced reviewer with over 20 book reviews related to my field of study on my CV). So, I read the books making sure that I keep them in excellent condition (no marks or anything). Then I write and publish the book reviews on academic journals. Afterwards, I have the option to sell these books on ebay or amazon. Snap! You get both fame and money! NB: Choose to review expensive books which are related to your research. Some books I have reviewed cost nearly 150 pounds and I have made good money out of them (and because they are yours, you can scan them before selling them, i.e. you keep a digital copy for your own use).


Many many thanks for taking the time to write this, I will definitely try these options. :)
The language I translate to/from isn't that common, but there's no harm in asking, at least the competition shouldn't be that fierce...

Avatar for johnkingx

one easy way to make money is to try your hand at writing code offers good money designing websites even using wix and webbly if code is too difficult a learning curve. great way to pay your way through your studies. there is also social media management (mamaging the facebook pages of companies) u just need a good graphic designer to be doing the nice designs for u


I did some consultancy/ RA jobs (which pay very little), but I really suffered, as I had less and less time to write-up, so I entered a vicious cycle that I would have to work for 4 weeks to afford to take two weeks off for the PhD. The last few months, it was almost there, and I hardly had any time to give the final push.



Thanks everyone for the advice, it's got me thinking about the skills I have and don't have. I'm not a natural at computer stuff so might have to rule the web design stuff out but I do enjoy tutoring and do a little at the moment. I'm sure if I advertised that more widely, I might get some interest. Also, the grant or loan option is always there too so hopefully there'll be something. In the meantime, just got to crack on with the thesis I guess! :)


See if your uni has a copy of this:

It lists various charities and trusts that give grants for all sorts of things - including 4th year PhD students.

As for me my 4th year has been funded through (i) savings (ii) credit card (I opened one with 0% interest on purchases for >12 months so I wasn't racking up interest (iii) casual RA work (iv) starting a full time job 3 months from the end. I did apply for one grant listed in that guide but was unsuccessful - I probably could have tried more if I'd been a bit more in need but I've managed to get by.

If you're going to go down the credit card route, be savvy to avoid extra debt through charges. Your existing cards probably have high interest rates attached and you may be best off applying for a new one. I would recommend applying while you still have funding coming in as you may be declined otherwise. Only go down the credit card route though if you feel comfortable with managing your finances and keeping track of things as people can get into all sorts of trouble that way. I have tried to avoid using it frequently for little purchases as they can add up without you realising, but instead have used it for the larger ones that I will remember e.g. long period bus passes, internet line rental (cheaper to pay the year up front than monthly), a one off bill that took me by surprise etc. For day to day spending it isn't, in my opinion, ideal to use a credit card as it's too easy to over-do it. You also need to factor in (i) ensuring you can meet the monthly minimum repayments and (ii) how confident you are that you will have some kind of job by the time the interest free period ends.

Good luck!