By Natalie Barton
It’s SAASmas Eve. Every 5 minutes I find myself logging into my mobile banking waiting for the balance to go shooting up. Multiple tabs are open on my laptop, shopping carts full of crap I really don’t need as I remember the struggle of a SAAS-less summer. What should be on my mind is the supplies and books I need this term, as my first day back at uni approaches, and yet, here I am waiting for my Amazon order of a ‘Stress relief colouring book for adults’ to arrive.
A new study has shown that during their first year of university, students will spend up to four times their loan on alcohol than food.
Lottoland polled 2,109 university students who had lived in student accommodation during their first year and had received a student loan instalment from the government. Participants were asked to estimate how long into their first semester of university they had spent their all of their loan, with the average answer being 6 weeks. When asked what their weekly outgoings were for different student essentials, the results revealed, on average, £90 for accommodation and £15 for food while; £60 was spent on alcohol and £30 on clothes and shoes. A similar study by the same group also found that students in Scottish universities are the most spendthrift, managing to use up their term loan within just 43 days on average
The majority of those asked confessed that during their first year of university, they went on three nights out a week, opting for the cheapest food possible to save money for alcohol and club entry fees. When asked to consider their attitude towards spending as a second or third year student, 62% agreed that they became more careful with their money, while 28% said they still as bad as they were in first year and 10% claimed they were even worse.
Dan Hawkins of Lottoland reported that, “moving away from your hometown and starting a university degree is often the first time that young adults will have the chance to move away from their parents control and start taking responsibility for their own lives and finances. It is ultimately an extremely exciting time and gives students the chance to meet new friends and bond during social nights out, but the fact that such a large proportion of student loans are being spent on alcohol is somewhat concerning.”
If I’m honest, as a third year student, I’d say I’m part of that 28% – maybe even the 10% – when ASOS offers a 20% student discount. There’s just so many aspects of student life that feel like necessities – nights out topping that list. Does anyone else come home from a night out and convince themselves that they’ve been robbed rather than admit that they actually spent all of their money and are not sure what on? If a vodka mixer in Firewater is 89p so how have I managed to spend £50? Alcohol aside, a night out is expensive in other ways: you’ve got your taxi, entry fee, jacket queue and of course the inevitable trip to King’s Kebab, or McDonald’s, for a drunken midnight meal.
That brings me to food: despite students paying little for groceries, there is no part of me that believes a good portion of their student loan doesn’t go towards filling their faces. For someone who always seems hungry, I spend a ridiculous amount of money on ice cream, burgers and pizzas. Surely it can’t just be me who wakes up on a Saturday morning, paying for last nights’ antics, checking to see when the Chinese/Indian takeaway opens… And when it finally does open, ordering a family-sized meal that will lie with me in my bed for the rest of that day?
University is said to be the best time of our lives, and spending money on absolute nonsense seems to play a pretty large part in that. We only have a few years left to be irresponsible before our money has to go to serious ‘adult things’ that we don’t like thinking about.
As long as you’re having fun and staying safe, by all means carry on spending. It’s not our problem – it’s our future selves’.