I don’t know about you but before leaving for university I had never budgeted before. I know when money is going to be taken out of my account for my accommodation, and I keep track of my balance so as not to run out of cash. But that’s it.
As I could never be bothered to make a proper budget, I set off to interview some students about the expenses they have been facing – more or less unexpectedly – since the start of the academic year. However, I’ve been disappointed: they reckon they hadn’t prepared a budget either, but they were still able to tell me what’s making their wallets thinner.
As expected, the biggest cost faced by students is related to nights out, more specifically alcohol. Everyone knew drinking was going to be an important part of social life at university but no one expected – international students especially – to partake in alcohol-centred socialising on average two nights per week. Fixing these habits then depend on an individual’s ability to get good value booze on how much they spend – I personally suggest less than £4 bottles of 13.5% wine.
In addition, the students I spoke to also hadn’t planned on spending as much as they currently are on food. This category is pretty wide, ranging from getting home delivery, to munchie boxes on a Sunday morning (or better, early afternoon) or even just random chippies to shed light on a gloomy weekday afternoon. And then it’s important to account for all of the money we typically spend on kebabs, McDonald’s and whatever you find yourself inhaling at 3am en-route home from the club. So, even for those of us who live on campus, laziness makes us spend more money than we plan to spend on food, best intentions aside.
It can also be argued, according to the principle, that time is money, that one of the main unbudgeted costs students are confronted with is sleeping. Or better, the lack of it.
On a personal note, I’m spending more money than I would have planned for the laundry, which gets even more expensive for those people who differentiate between colours, textiles and all that. Also, I expected that certain things like toilet roll were going to be included in the accommodation fee, but maybe that was just me being unrealistic.
In writing this article, I tried to come up with something more than alcohol and eat-out food. However, I thought that speculating how much money students tend to spend on drugs or other highs wouldn’t have been the best thing to do (for obvious reasons), so I just decided to let it go.