Money Diaries: a first year English and Philosophy 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 in order to start breaking down much of the taboo that still surrounds discussion of money.

Money. Whether it’s emptying my wallet at Urban Outfitters or simply popping round to a corner shop, it always generates a certain anxiety in me. I would be more at ease allowing you to scroll through my text messages rather than allowing you to flick through my online banking app. I know I am not alone in experiencing the strange wave of shame that so often surrounds money and questions about personal finance.

I have tested many tactics to be thrifty, such as only taking out cash or setting a daily spending limit, and all the attempts have been futile. Reflecting on this week of spending has made me confront my wasteful habits to fuel my caffeine addiction, eat out and get drawn in by a florist. For the benefit of my bank account, I am biting the bullet and presenting my weekend money diary! 

Monday – £6.30

Mondays are notoriously loved or loathed, but this one was particularly loved. Despite waking up to the lingering smell of a friend’s stale Saturday throw-up, I was up in time for an early lecture and surprisingly, didn’t spend any money on a coffee. A group of us set ourselves up in Teviot for a long lunch and skimmed through readings until we felt a bit deranged. It was a much needed, humble spending start to the week. 

Tuesday – £17.00

After forking out for my bus fare just to fall asleep at the lecture, I made my first slightly questionable spending purchase of the week on a flower. I was fueled by room envy, as mine is currently reminiscent of a prison cell and I wanted to fulfil my dream of a quaint Pinterest-worthy interior. With a spring in my step and flowerpot in hand, the mood turned when I discovered that I had to ‘invest’ money into a Portuguese textbook. So I decided to trek home, pick up the book on the way and this night my flatmate had lovingly made me some dinner. So far not too spendy … 

Wednesday – £1.70

Safe to say that Wednesday did not break the bank, just a small expenditure to my lecture and I happened to walk back that day. My mum worked her wonders from miles away as I defrosted some of her home-cooked meals for both lunch and dinner. Despite having a mid-week movie night, I luckily had enough snacks to fuel us seven girls through a rom-com. 

Thursday (brace yourself) – £65.20

Being a Libra means I’m all about balance. After yesterday’s meagre total, I had to restore an ‘equilibrium’ and spend away on snacks and alcohol as I was the designated pre-drinks host. Not only did I ensure that there was a sufficient dip-to-Dorito ratio, but I also forked out on some wardrobe organisers and a plant pot on Amazon. The much needed Uber was split between three and luckily I didn’t need to spend any more on a late night snack.

Friday – £25.10

Despite feeling a little fragile, I managed to sprint onto the bus and pay the extortionate fee to get to my 10 am lecture. I was equipped with my mascara ready for my makeover on the bus when I realised that I had forgotten my phone at home. The dread and paranoia rushed through me and I hopped off to collect it. So I once again I emptied my purse for Lothian and somehow managed to get to the lecture on time. I thought it would be best to walk myself home for lunch and perhaps save a little now to spend a little more on dinner. My friends and I agreed that tonight was the night to put our free Nando’s voucher to use and then head on out for a ritualistic Wetherspoons and Atik. To look on the bright side, I managed not to break the bank with the drinks because I was still feeling a bit sore from the night before. 

Saturday – £20

We ventured out of the familiar university grounds and headed out to Princes Street with the intention of working in a nice café, just generally trying to fit the vision of a perfect cultured student. Of course, that would be along with a little window shopping. Although this plan to work fell flat on its face, as did the overpriced cupcake I ordered. 

Sunday – £43.95 

Sunday is typically my get-shit-done day. Whether it’s the pressure that Monday is looming or just something I’ve inherited from my mum, it is productive and busy every week. I pragmatically filled my fridge with long-lasting food and later on, went out for a pricey dinner and drink with a friend. With my focus on making new friends and meeting people, I did spend away at the pub – but I did find a kindred spirit so it was all worth it. 

Overall Total – £179.25 

Reflecting upon my spending habits has shown me quite a few things. It showed that there are some things I cannot avoid spending money on, like my bus pass, while there are some areas that are easier to cut back on when it comes to shelling out the cash.

I am reminded of how lucky I am to not be constantly stressed with financial worries and burdens, which of course is not the case for every student. Although this was an interesting insight and I have benefited by tracking my costs, for some it is always the case of monitoring spending and having to forecast their week of socialising. But the most important thing I have learnt is to be appreciative and be conscious when considering if I really really need to chip away at my bank balance. 

 

Image: Petr Kratochvil via freestockphotos

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