“I’m one of the lucky ones in the UK: because I’m Scottish, and studying at a Scottish university, I don’t have to pay tuition fees. Even so, I do try to be cautious with money most of the time by having a rough budget for groceries and limiting the number of takeaways I have. However, I am not one to turn down plans. If my friends are at the pub or out doing something I would have to be extremely broke not to join them! I know I am not going to have a lot of disposable income during uni and in the years immediately after I graduate, so sometimes I think it’s worthwhile to dip into the overdraft in the name of a good time!”
Morning: I intended to get up early and do some uni work but then remembered it was bills day. We pay them quarterly (four times a year) and the website is a nightmare, so it took a while to organise. My share came to £138 for gas and electricity (saved for weekly as part of my rent and utilities).
Afternoon: Went for a walk and squeezed in a bit of work. I did a small food shop (£27) while I was out to keep me going for five days – I’m going away at the weekend so bought a bit less than usual.
Evening: Went to have some drinks in a friend’s garden – what else are Mondays for? I took some gin and tonic from home so it was a lot cheaper than going to the pub!
Rent: £83.50 – this comes out once a week.
Phone: £3.25 – this comes out once a week.
Remaining weekly budget: £23
Morning: My flatmate and I had a bit of a panic having not done any work on Monday, so we got to essay writing (after a joint moan about essay writing!) first thing.
Afternoon: We went for a walk and I picked up some oat milk, energy juice and teabags from the shops on the way home (£8). I tend to buy the huge boxes of tea because it works out a bit cheaper and I drink quite a lot of tea.
Evening: Back to uni work. I then made spaghetti bolognese for dinner. I like to make huge batches of bolognese, soups or curries so I always have a decent meal ready even when I am busy all day. Healthy freezer food!
Remaining weekly budget: £15
Morning: Another morning of working on uni assignments, although thankfully we were both a bit less stressed having made a lot of progress on Tuesday. The pubs reopened after lockdown today – we decided we’d wait until we finish the semester at the end of this week, but I envisage an expensive weekend ahead!
Afternoon: I really like cooking, and my lovely grandma sends me recipes every now and then. I got one from her today – for sundried tomato soup – so I made some lunch for my flatmate and me. It was a very welcome change of scenery after staring at my computer screen.
Evening: Did some more essay writing. Bit of a dull day, but a free one!
Remaining weekly budget: £15
Morning: I ate some breakfast and then went for a run. After that, I went back to essay writing once again. Heard that my boxing club would be starting to train again outdoors in a few weeks – can’t wait.
Afternoon: Both my flatmate and I submitted our final essays and officially finished our degrees! Sadly, our graduation has been cancelled because of the pandemic, so we spent the afternoon trying to mark the occasion for ourselves: we made a nice lunch, walked to the local beach and then called our parents.
Evening: We got a Chinese takeaway to celebrate the slightly anticlimactic end to the year (£12). It was a great takeaway, though!
Remaining weekly budget: £3
Morning: Made a veggie sausage sandwich for breakfast (courtesy of my food shop earlier this week) and had a chilled morning. My flatmate and I went for a walk because the weather was so nice – that’s rare in Aberdeen so we thought we should go out while we could.
Afternoon: I made a curry for lunch, then met two of my friends at the newly reopened pub. We only had two hours due to the new restrictions so we did splurge a little on cocktails and drinks that would usually be a bit over my price limit (£32) – luckily I saved a lot of money when we couldn’t go out so I have a bit of a buffer. It was a lot of fun and it was so nice to see people from other households for the first time in a while.
Evening: On the way home, we picked up a few beers (£8) to have in the garden – seemed rude not to having graduated and with the sun still shining!
Going out and eating out: £40 – cocktails and beers.
Remaining weekly budget: -£37
Saturday: I went to stay at a friend’s house in Glasgow to help her pack up before moving house. I bought my bus tickets a few weeks ago – I’ve found that bus and train tickets are usually cheapest when you book them two or three weeks in advance. We packed boxes and moved furniture for most of the day, then ordered pizza to reward ourselves (£12).
Sunday: This was a bit of a pricey day! My friend and I went out for coffees (£9), which I bought as she paid for the taxi into town, and had a look around the shops – it was really busy so we didn’t buy anything. Instead, we went to a nice ramen place for lunch (£20). Bought a drink for my bus ride home (£1) and when I got off the bus I bought a few groceries for the week ahead (£10). When I eventually got home my flatmate suggested ordering a Chinese takeaway (£12). Why not?
Going out and eating out: £54
Transport: £0 - I bought my bus ticket a few weeks ago.
Remaining weekly budget: -£101
THIS WEEK'S ACTUAL SPEND
Going out and eating out: £106 - busted my budget a bit in graduation week
ACTUAL SPEND: £237.75
PREDICTED SPEND: £136.75
OVERSPEND OF WEEKLY BUDGET: £101
“Congratulations on finishing your degree! That’s awesome. And it’s great that, although your graduation plans were cancelled, you and your friends were still able to mark the occasion in your own way. That said, you definitely need to make sure that this kind of overspend is a rarity – especially as you venture out into the world and begin your career. Your overdraft is there as a safety net but ideally you should do your best not to rely on it – finding ways to stay on-budget will in turn allow you to start saving for bigger, long-term goals like holidays or maybe even a house. So, by all means have a meal out or a take-away, but maybe try and limit how often you do so – it’ll also feel like more of a treat when you do. Likewise, when you’re heading out for drinks with friends, keep an eye out for happy hours so those cocktails don’t bust your budget!”
Make a shopping list. There are some more expensive grocery items that are worth getting, but a lot just look nice then go off in your fridge. It can be hard to find the time but if you can plan your meals, or at least your dinners you can get through the week without wasting much.
Share! Flatmates are fabulous things. We got a projector instead of a TV one year and it cost us around £7 each. I like reading and I give people books I think they will like and they often give me books back, too.
Bring a set amount of cash on a night out. Leave your card at home and bring what you can afford to spend in cash – that way you physically can’t overspend. This could also easily apply to days out shopping or anywhere else you find yourself busting your budget.