Money Matters: Good Weeks

As much as I write about financial responsibility and the importance of sticking to a budget, I am still a twenty-one year old university student,  occasionally, I make choices that are perhaps not the most fiscally conscientious. So while there are some weeks when I smugly enjoy my no-spend day and the fact that I did exceed my weekly budget there are others when the budget is so far out the window it may as well be in Timbuktu. 

In the style of Refinery29’s Money Diaries series, I will be looking through old spreadsheets and diaries to recount one ‘good’ and one ‘bad’ week of Trinity 2019. I think I made smarter financial decisions in second year, but since I’m definitely feeling the absence of Trinity this year I’ve chosen to look back to simpler times. 

So I’ll admit, I didn’t have that many “good weeks” in TT19. Tutoring quite a bit over the previous Vac and the majority of my Summer internship abroad getting funded by Christ Church and the Careers Service, I felt that I had some room to spend a little bit more than I probably otherwise would have. 

I think it’s interesting that this culture of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ spending exists; why do I feel that some purchases are frivolous and others are necessary decisions? Often, in the comments of the Refinery29 diaries, if someone has a good week they’re made out to be omitting the truth, living an impossible life or being too penny-pinching. If someone has a bad week then they’re treated just as poorly. Personally, I feel that while budgeting, being aware of your spending habits and making sure you really want something before you buy it are important ways of being fiscally responsible, sometimes needing or wanting to spend more isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

This week is a “good week” because of several reasons: 

  • My weekly budget was higher at the time at £70 compared to now. 
  • The money I spent going out for food, was offset by the fact that I spent £0 on groceries this week (bar a packet of instant ramen). 

In many ways this week was not a good week; I spent a good proportion of it stressed about Prelims and forgetting to eat lunch – trying to work on the energy from just a cereal bar is really not conducive to learning at all. In other ways it was wonderful, I saw my family and spent quality time with friends to help me get out of my head about exams – and you really can’t put a price on that. 

What follows is an account of one week I managed to stay within my weekly budget (sort of).  

Week 6 of Trinity Term 2019

Sunday 2nd June 

7.45am: Woke up early to catch the 8.15am Oxford Tube to London (£13 return). I’d been trying to become more of a morning person this term by waking up at 7.30am, so this didn’t feel as awful as it sounds. I cannot believe I used to wake up at 6.45am every weekday only a few years ago. 

9.30am: I arrived at Victoria after a speedy coach journey and walk to Pimlico Fresh to meet my parents and sister for a Sunday brunch – I hadn’t seen them since my dad’s birthday in the middle of May so it was good to catch up and vent to my mum about revision stress. I had burrata and black truffle tortellini, a smoothie and an espresso – my parents were kind enough to pick up the tab. 

11.15am: We walked over to Tate Britain as it was almost time for our slot for the Van Gogh and Britain Exhibition. I really loved this exhibition;  it was very well curated,  consisting of some of his most notable works arranged in such a way that you could draw links between British culture and art that Van Gogh himself was inspired by as well as the British artists that were inspired by him. Some of my favourite pieces in the exhibition were Winter in Provence by Matthew Smith, The Fig Tree by Spencer Gore and Pollard Willows at Sunset by Van Gogh. (£5 ticket but my parents booked). 

1pm: A very long, traffic filled journey back to Oxford on the coach. 

3.30pm: The rest of my day was spent in the RadCam, revising my Earth Systems Processes paper content until I was absolutely sick of endogenic and exogenic geological forces. 

6.15pm: Informal Hall (included in my season ticket, on battels)

8pm: Hustings in the JCR for many positions including, excitingly, the next President of the JCR. 

10pm: Having decided that I had not done nearly enough work today, I stayed up until 1am working (with intermittent Instagram scrolling). 

Monday 3rd June 

9am: I handed in my three pieces of coursework to Exam Schools (sigh of relief), picked up a packet of instant ramen from Sainsburys (£1.10) and then settled in at the Union Library until 2pm to revise. I forget breakfast and lunch is a cereal bar – utterly uninspiring.

3pm: Prelims Human Geography Revision Class with my tutor followed by a long nap. 

6.15pm: Informal Hall (included in my season ticket, on battels)

8pm: JCR Meeting but I left slightly early to catch a screening of the new Godzilla film with a friend. I have a 2 for 1 Odeon voucher three days a week thanks to my dad’s Times subscription so I go to the cinema quite a bit (£3.88). 

Tuesday 4th June

9am: Worked in the RadCam all morning reviewing my Ecology notes, trying out a practice essay question and wishing I could fast forward to the end of 7th week.

12.30pm: Ecology Revision Class in Brasenose

1.45pm: Deciding that I needed a treat to get me through the next few days of revision, I headed over to Sasi’s Thai in the covered market for my favourite – pad thai and a thai iced tea (£8), followed by some more work back in my room. 

4pm: Our college’s Careers Service liaison came over to help me run a Q&A for Finalists and the GCR. The event was not that successful, since most people were either enjoying the sun and freedom from exams or busy with work but oh well, we had a nice conversation. 

5pm: The rest of my day was uneventful; work, dinner and yet more work.

Wednesday 5th June

9am: I attended a meeting with my manager and co-intern to discuss our fundraising and work-plans for this summer over a coffee at the Weston Library Café (£2.90)

10am: Revised in the Vere Harmsworth for the rest of the day, taking a few breaks to walk outside and eat a cereal bar. 

7pm: Attended a fundraising dinner at Catz for the two charities I’ll be working with this summer! The food was actually pretty good and I had a couple glasses of wine before heading back to do a little bit of note organising before bed (£12)

Thursday 6th June 

9am: An uneventful morning revising in the Union Library.

1pm: Met up with friends to refuel on Sushimania’s half price lunch deal – one of the best food discounts in the whole of Oxford (£10.10). 

3pm: A two hour revision class on the Controversies paper with my tutors- it was helpful to review the book I had chosen to focus on and make condensed notes. This, like many classes, was followed by a nap. 

6.15pm: Then a classic mid-Prelims revision panic evening – informal hall and more work in my room.  Exciting stuff, I know.

Friday 7th June

7.30am: Woke up early to go over my Earth Systems Processes material before my class. 

10am: ESP Class, I still felt like I didn’t understand atmospheric pressure and weather systems so I noted that down as a focus for my revision sessions. 

11.30am: There’s something about atmospheric science that makes me want to eat melted cheese so a friend and I grab cheese and onion toasties in the JCR café (paid with Bod Card, topped with a lump sum in the middle of term). 

12pm: I spent the rest of the afternoon working in the RadCam with some friends, managing to get a good chunk of learning done with a quick break in the middle to attend an interview (for a position that I did not end up getting). 

7.15pm: I decided that I needed a little relaxation time so a friend and I got together for a rapid facemask and chat session that helped break up the endless monotony of revision. 

Saturday 8th June

7.30am: Getting quite stressed now. Prelims were were officially T-minus 3 days away and I suddenly felt like I knew nothing so I spent the morning trying to convince myself otherwise. 

11.30am: I met up with two friends at The Nosebag for brunch- they’d been through Prelims already and helped a lot with distracting me from the looming worry of exams. There was a Union  discount at the time so I got a Small Breakfast and a coffee for £7.83. After this, we walked to the RadCam, getting sidetracked at a little vintage store right next to The Nosebag called Arcadia where I picked up two vintage Marvel comics as a belated birthday gift for my dad (£12). 

1pm: The rest of the day was filled with revision punctuated with quick breaks for dinner and a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. 

Total Spent: £70.81