Sapphire Demirsoz for VARSITY

Welcome to Cambridge Money Diaries. In this column we ask an anonymous student to take us through a week of their expenditure; charting the trials and tribulations of saving and spending all against the backdrop of weekly essays and Wednesday Cindies. This week's writer is a first-year who talks about managing their taxi habit, and their desire to improve their financial efficiency. They're on a maintenance scholarship and a full bursary from the university.

General weekly budget aim: £100 a week

Relationship with money: disorganised /loosely monitor spending 

Monthly outgoings:

  • FT subscription: £15
  • Spotify: £4.99
  • Mobile contract: £40 
  • Amazon Student Prime: £4.99

Thursday 23rd Jan – £381.70

Week 4 begins for me like any typical Cambridge student. I roll out of Cindies at 2am, after I pay £7 for entry. I went with friends from a different college, so I head back to my centre Cambridge college on my own. For me, this means I take a taxi. This comes to £7. I am a bit of an uber/ taxi addict. This would probably be more acceptable if we were not in Cambridge and everything was not under 20 minutes walk away. I must confess that this is actually my third Uber of the night; but technically that was yesterday, so I choose not to include it. I wake up on Thursday around 10am, not too hungover. I am satisfied with that, but not to motivated enough to attend my one lecture, especially as its recorded. I check my emails and the first one I receive is my outstanding balance on my college account, with my rent due. My rent for the term, plus any formals I attended last term, comes to a very small £360 because of the college scholarship I receive. I have a late breakfast, £2.00 pastry from the college canteen and a £1.70 coffee. I head to the SPS library as I am working on an essay today. Later, lunch at the Whale café comes to about £4.00 for a panini and a coffee. In the evening, along with a friend, I head to a law event for free drinks and canapes. This is our dinner for the night. 

Friday 24th Jan – £99.90

I attend the college Burns night formal tonight. This costs £22.90. It is also the day of the release of my college’s May Ball tickets. This comes to a total of £75, which is a reduced bursary ticket. Once the formal is over, we go downstairs to the bar, where we have a Ceilidh dance night. I buy myself a vodka and Coke, which come to £2. 

Saturday 25th Jan– £5.70 

I wake up hungover from the night before and attend a mandatory brunch at my college. This comes to £3.50, while I catch up on college gossip from Friday night. I attempt to study for the rest of the day and eventually decide to make myself dinner using ingredients I bought for my grocery shop this week - I make chicken with couscous. This saves me some money. I buy myself a drink from the vending machine that costs £1, and also a coffee while I study later, for £1.20.

Sunday 26th Jan -  £30.21

I tend to treat myself with a takeaway every now and then. However, I spent way too much last term on Deliveroo and Just Eats, so I have limited myself to 6 takeaways this term. I decide that I am celebrating handing my essay in with Pizza Hut. This comes to £21.20. I also browse Amazon and decide to buy a kit of essential oils for my diffuser I received over Christmas as a present. This comes to £9. 

Monday the 27th Jan- £39.75

My food account in college is out of money so I top up by £30 which I hope lasts at least seven more days. I skip breakfast but have an early lunch in the Alison Richardson building which comes to £3.50. I also have a supervision at noon. As I wait for my supervision to start, I grab a coffee for £1.25 in the Iris cafe. I also sign up for Rag Blind Date for £5.00.

Tuesday 28th Jan - £10.00 

A quiet day. I spend the whole day in the library and spend around £10 on lunch and breakfast outside of college. 

Wednesday 29th Jan – £4.00 

I have a practice interview in the morning again and then have lunch at the ARB. The veggie main dish costs £4. I spent the rest of the day in the law library, where I study, and hand in an essay at 7 PM. By 7pm, I am starving and I grab a packet of crisps from the vending machine before heading back to college. Once home, I have a tin of soup from my kitchen as I have missed dinner. 

Total weekly spend: 

General: £136.26

Rent: £360

May ball: £75 


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Mountain View

Approaching the half-way point of my first year at Cambridge

General thoughts: I am not too disappointed with this week’s spend, slightly higher than usual because of my takeaway and Amazon purchase, but overall not bad at all. I am very lucky as my scholarship allows me to be quite generous with what I spend on food, but I could definitely save more by just making my own coffee and packed lunches. It is difficult to measure because I do not know what other people spend each week, but I was definitely worse last term as I was ordering things for my new room, multiple takeaways and new clothes. I have definitely cut back this term although it does not seem like it. I hope to become economically efficient each term, a mindset that will hopefully carry me as I move into my post-university life.

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