'If I pay in cash, it doesn't show up on my bank statement. Score'sapphire demirsoz for varsity

I support myself entirely on my student loan and bursaries. I receive the full Cambridge bursary (£1155 per term) and a smaller one from college (£200 per term). I get £2951.52 from SFE every term. I have been tracking all my spending in an Excel spreadsheet manually since December 2018, and I’ve just started using a spending tracking app.

I find there's no such thing as a 'normal' spending week for me

General weekly budget aim:. Honestly? Not great but I just spend money without a budget in mind.

Relationship with money: I often find myself turning to retail therapy and then feeling guilty for the money I spend, so I’m trying to work on making meaningful purchases that I can feel happy about.

Monthly outgoings:

  • College rent and Kitchen Fixed Charge: £712.50
  • Pre-paid buttery credit (I can’t cook): £100
  • Paying mum back for my phone I bought a year ago: £32.42
  • Spotify: £14.99

Monday - £4

I eat the same lunch basically every day: 3 rice cakes spread with 2 Laughing Cow cheese triangles with slices of apple on top. My friends make fun, but it hits the spot.

In the evening, I go to dance class. Each class costs £4, which is a reduced rate since I bought dance club membership for £15 at the start of Michaelmas. They only accept cash, so it doesn’t exactly feel real when I hand over the money. If I pay in cash, it doesn’t show up on my bank statements. Score.

Tuesday - £10.50

While I’m eating my breakfast, I get a notification from Yolt telling me my current account has fallen below £200. A bunch of last week’s transactions have hit it at once: an ice cream from Jack’s Gelato (£2.50), two May Week tickets (£64.32 for me and £84.66 for my boyfriend), a hot chocolate from the Iris (£1.80) and my weekly Sainsbury’s shop (£9.85).

I vow to ask my boyfriend to pay me back next time we talk. Money is always awkward in relationships. I get dinner from the buttery, since I have no time to cook before I have to go out. That's £2.50 from my buttery credit.

Later, I review a show for a student newspaper. I get a free ticket for my friend and me since I’m reviewing. Honestly, reviewing theatre has been one of my top money-saving endeavours.

'A bunch of last week's transactions hit at once'twitter/offbeatentruck

I pay £4 for dance class again. We’re also collecting casg to buy some end-of-term thank you presents for our captains, so I give another £4.

Wednesday - £70.77

I pop my first wash on. I do two washes a week. I’m lucky to live in a place where washing is free. After unloading my wash, I go out with my friends to town. I post my boyfriend’s Valentine’s gift (which definitely won’t arrive in time, but he’ll forgive me). I wrapped it in an old issue of Varsity instead of wrapping paper (we love a personal brand) and reused some old postal packaging, so I only had to pay for postage, which was £5.25.

I eat with my friends at Crêpeaffaire. I order a Nutella, strawberry and whipped cream crêpe and a smoothie. A well-balanced lunch indeed (£9.26). I pay my friend back for a £1.80 hot chocolate she bought me earlier.

We all go to Oxfam. I see some red heels that are only slightly too big for me and would match one of my formal dresses, so I pick them up. I also buy a thank you card for my grandma (she sent me some birthday money) and a pack of vintage German stamps (my boyfriend collects them). It comes to £11.97, which I don’t feel too bad about because it’s a charity shop and I’m being sustainable.

I then go bra shopping with my friend. There’s a whole bunch on sale. I can’t decide between two of them, so I buy both and vow to return one after I sleep on it. They come to £27.50.

'My boyfriend collects vintage German stamps'twitter/minarama

After messing around on my phone, I check my bank balance. My Spotify Family monthly payment has come out of my account (£14.99).

Thursday - £77.76

While eating breakfast, my retainer breaks (I have a wire glued to the back of my teeth to prevent the need for braces again, since I’ve suffered enough). I have to go to a lecture so I can’t call my insurance company or an orthodontist yet.

After reading through copious terms and conditions from my insurance company, I ascertain that I’m covered for £300 of orthodontic treatment. I call every orthodontist office in Cambridge and the first appointment I can get is two weeks from now. I pay the £75 appointment deposit and resign myself to two weeks of pain. At least I will get the money back eventually from insurance.

At 3pm I come out of my supervision and promise myself a cake because I’m sad about my retainer. I get an email about a parcel collection and go to the plodge to find that my boyfriend has sent me flowers for Valentine’s Day. I almost cry in the plodge but hold it together enough to buy a cake (£2.50) and return to my room.

I’m practicing with my dance partner at his college, so I leave to meet up with him. On my way there I return the bra I decided against (+£17) and buy some orthodontic wax to hopefully prevent me stabbing myself any more (£2.88 with student discount).

I realise that I’m going to miss the narrow window of Buttery dinner, so I grab myself a chicken tikka masala ready-meal from Sainsbury’s. I also get a pint of milk because I’m running out. £3.45.

A mutual friend graces the poster (the dog, not Keir Starmer)twitter/nicoleprior_

My friend texts me to tell me she’s designed a poster with our mutual friend’s face on it and put it on Redbubble. I simply have to buy it. It’s £10.93 with her discount code.

I do a face mask at 11:30pm. It’s just a cheap clay mask from Boots, but it makes me feel fancy. Plus it’s blue so I get to look like a Smurf for 15 minutes.

Friday - £4

Some friends and I are having a Galentine’s Day movie night in a friend’s room, so I head over. We order pizza and snacks, and I pay my share (£4). We watch the new To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie, which we all make fun of ruthlessly.

Saturday - £0 (thanks to my mum and her boyfriend!)

I leave at midday ish to meet my family at their hotel. We have lunch at the hotel, which my mum’s boyfriend pays for. My mum also pays for dinner. I do my weekly shop at Sainsbury’s, which comes to £14.50. My mum pays for it though (big up).

Sunday - about £3 (once again, thank you family!)

My friend and I get brunch every Sunday after dance so I get two yoghurts and two waffles. I didn’t look how much it was but it was probably about £3 out of my buttery credit.

Meet my family for dinner. My mum’s boyfriend pays. Go back to their hotel and hang out with my siblings for a while, then my mum gets me a taxi back to college because I’m too lazy to walk. It comes to £6.60 but she gave me money for it.

Total weekly spend: £170.03


Mountain View

Cambridge Money Diaries: Part One

In retrospect, this was quite a good representation of how much I spend in a week. I find that there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ week for me in terms of spending. Sure, my mum and her boyfriend paid for a lot of stuff over the weekend (which I am incredibly grateful for!), but I also got hit with that orthodontist bill.

I think it’s important to stay aware of how much you spend and keep unnecessary spending to a minimum, but feeling guilty every time you spend money just keeps you down. It’s definitely a difficult topic, especially for students, but money isn’t your enemy.

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