Money Diaries: a third year history student

As part of starting an open discussion involving students and their relationship with money, and taking inspiration from Refinery29’s own ‘Money Diaries’ series, we at The Student are writing about our own experiences to start to break down much of the taboo that still surrounds discussion of money.

For students, there is a huge stigma surrounding the topic of money. There is shame in appearing to have more money than one’s peers, perhaps appearing posh, rich and relying on parents’ money. It is also seen as embarrassing to be viewed as having less money than average. Having to say no to going out or going out and worrying about the level of your overdraft is a problem which many students face. With these obstacles in place, it is no wonder that students find the discussion of money taboo.

This should not be the case. Money is a topic which people will worry and fret over throughout their lives. Only through talking about it can people find new ways of dealing with their issues and relieving some of the stress involved with discussions of money.

So, I embarked on the challenge of documenting my spending habits for five days, to see where my money went and if my spending was wise and productive or wasteful and careless.

Wednesday: £5.38

I worked for the whole afternoon in a café where they provide free lunch and drinks for all employees. This is always a good way to limit my spending, especially when there are leftover sandwiches to take home at the end of the day as well. However, having spent the day on my feet working, I had to take some time and actually do some studying. I headed to Teviot and to justify taking up a table, I spent £1.90 on sweet potato fries. On my way home after an evening of work, I bought food for later in the week, costing me £3.48. So, a food-filled, moderate spending day.

Thursday: £2.50

I made myself lunch which I find saves a great amount of money as it prevents me from splurging on over-priced meals throughout the day. However, I did decide to treat myself to a coffee, a latte from the David Hume Tower café. It cost me £2.50 but was a necessity to get me through a two-hour seminar. Earlier in the week I had bought vegetables so had all the ingredients needed to make both stew and soup for dinner. Since I have fewer contact hours this term, I have been trying to plan meals in advance, meaning I spend more earlier in the week but hopefully less by the end. This seems to work well for me. 

Friday: £17.00

Today was a payday so I welcomed a great £52 boost to my bank account. A further help was my mum coming to visit me and her buying both lunch and dinner. However, after getting paid I decided to treat myself and ended up spending £17 on a night out. My usual pres routine would be a bottle of wine but I decided to splash out on vodka and also bought a round of shots later in the night. This night out cost more than my usual but getting free meals earlier in the day balanced this expense out.

Saturday: £7.44

Saturday was a recovery day from the night before. I spent £4.95 on a hangover breakfast from a café up the street from my flat, and later spent another £2.49 on further hangover snacks. The rest of the day was spent studying, snacking, and watching Shrek. This saved me the money I may have spent on activities or eating out but meant a pretty boring day all in all. But a highly recommended hangover cure.

Sunday: £4.90

I was working again on Sunday, providing a free lunch and preventing me from spending money on weekend activities. After work, I had to study again and got curly fries for £1.90 to get through this – needing food to study is a bad habit, I know. To have a break from all the studying and reading, I went to see Ladybird at the Pleasance Theatre for £3. This was well worth the money and a great point on which to end my weekend.  

Overall total: £37.22

My total for the five days was £37.22, although I was paid £52 which balances the spending out. Looking back, most of this spending was on food which I’m pleased about as I usually think I’m quite frivolous with money. I have been trying to avoid spending money on clothes or accessories and to focus more on building some savings. The workload of third year has so far cut down my free time for doing anything fun with friends, but has most likely helped my bank account. I predict that this level of spending will continue throughout the remainder of the year, with my priority on spending and keeping my spending mainly on food. Although,  I can’t promise this won’t be without the occasional ASOS shop!

Image: Petr Kratochvil via freestockphotos

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