Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Cash Poor Year

The poorest year of my life so far is about to come up with me deciding to complete my masters degree in Glasgow, with a modest amount of savings, trying not to get in to any more debt and at the same time making payments on current debts. Although it does occasionally wake me up at night worrying how it will all work out, I am feeling pretty positive about it. I have had times when I have been backpacking where I have had really little money and I have managed to survive so hopefully I should be able to get through this too!

So far to prepare for the coming cash poor year...

I've made a budget...

The initial draft of this was done at 2am in the morning when I could not sleep one night and needed to get something down on paper to see if going back to uni was actually achievable. I have a number of set costs such as my accommodation, tuition fee's and repaying of debts that are fixed amounts which need covering and cannot be lowered. I have savings that will cover this majority of this and I'm hoping to pull the rest together through part-time employment and applying for educational grants. A career development loan is my very last resort, so to stop this happening I need to budget my personal expenses sensibly.

I've budgeted £2,500 for the year starting in September for personal expenses:
  • £620 for food, resulting in around £12 per week
  • £200 for laundry & cleaning products, as I am going to have to use the laundrette to clean my clothes
  • £80 for cosmetics
  • £250 for university supplies- At first I thought this would be low as I access the library a lot to avoid paying for books, but there are a few groups I'd like to join which have a small annual fee, I'd like to join the pool for £60p/a and take a Spanish class
  • £50 for clothing- as I really have enough already
  • £200 for transport- which includes getting from Glasgow to Derby for Christmas and using public transport for a university placement
  • £80 for gifts & special occasions
  • £1020 for socialising- resulting in £20 per week. This is the thing I have found most difficult to calculate... I am a social being and would like to go to events, meet people, etc. but I really don't know how much I need for this or if this is excessive? I really hope to only spend around £10 on socialising and put the other £10 in to savings
If you have any suggestions on this budget, please let me know. I have only ever very roughly budgeted in the past.

Sorted out the clothes and cosmetics I already have...

I came home thinking that there were lots of things that I needed, from clothes to cosmetics. However, doing an audit of what I already have has made me realise there are just a few essential items that I need.

Although I do need a new facial moisturiser and a mascara, I have mountains of body cream and body wash that I've received as gifts and it's unlikely I will have to buy more until well after Christmas. I have also found a variety of miniature cosmetics that will keep me going for the rest of the summer.

Things I do need I'm trying to get at bargain prices...

For example: I needed new knickers. I want them good quality but I can't afford to spend a fortune on them. My sister helped me out with this one, directing me to the Debenhams online sale and finding me voucher codes that not only gave me free delivery but also an extra 10% off resulting in 10 new pairs of knickers at only 72p each. My friend has also sourced me a bargain £5 swimsuit from Decathalon, as I want to get back into swimming to aide the recovery of my leg.


  1. Sounds like both an exciting and scary year at the same time. I would recommend eating in when possible - maybe keeping socializing to non-meal events unless they are at a friends or for free. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the tips! I do love to eat out but I think that will be a thing of the past.
      I am very excited but it is a big change as I went from working in Australia full-time, earning a good salary, to breaking my leg quite seriously and being out of work in the UK, to now going to university.

  2. Oh, I remember being a poor student...omg that makes me sound old! Have you seen my student meal plan and ideas? http://wedonteatanythingwithaface.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/cheap-and-cheerful-vegetarian-meals-for.html

  3. Hi Zoe, I know how you feel in relation to it being a poor year. I haven't had much money since I was made redundant and have been living off my husbands wage, and this year is even more scary as I still don't have a job. So we too are on a budget. I have to say I had more money when I was a student than I do now, because I saved up and cooked loads of my own meals. I wish you luck. I went to Glasgow University and know it quite well, is that where you are going? If you have any questions and you think I may be able to help, do e mail me at allotment2kitchen@hotmail.co.uk and I will do my best to assist. I lived on Hillhead Street just off Byres Rd and Murano Street Student Village.

  4. The clothes bit sounds ok, you can find great stuff in charity shops. The food bit sounds more tricky. I guess it is easier to eat cheaply being a vegetarian? When I was a student I live off of 2p tins of baked beans and soy mince but there are probably so many places online you can get ideas and inspiration for more creative cheap food now.

  5. This is very inspiring! Let us know how you are getting on. I went through a similar situation when I did my masters and I found that period to be one of the most creative just because there are so many things you can do with zero budget!

  6. Wow, you are very brave! Truthfully, eating at home doesn't sound so bad to me, I love cooking... :)