St Andrews carries a certain reputation, most often associated with drinking societies and the rich and royal. As students here know, though, not everyone is a Windsor. Those who don’t count caviar as a major food group often complain about rising rent prices and the preponderance of expensive food options.
Between food, trips, nights out and a cheeky wee pint every now and again, how much do students spend in one week? If they forego the labour of keeping a list of every cappuccino, Pablo and quick foray into H&M, students may find that their budget is blown far more often than expected.
The Saint decided to find out how St Andrews students really spend their pounds. We spoke to a range of individuals living in both catered and uncatered halls to see if students here truly live like kings. We asked them to estimate their spending over the five-day period of Monday to Friday and then track their purchases as accurately as possible. The students were told not to alter their purchases from their usual spending and to report their overall expenditures and on what they spent their money.
We start with Amy Greig, a first year who lives uncatered in DRA. Ms Greig estimated her weekly spending to range between £80 and £100, but she didn’t go out during the week and therefore spent only £61.44. Living in DRA, Ms Greig spent money on travel that a student living closer to town could have avoided, namely £5.60 in taxis and bus trips. Her non-essential spending included a £15 concert and £13 worth of clothes. An upcoming birthday party for a friend set Ms Greig back £11, as she had to purchase a gift. Her most impressive number was for food: £17.84 worth of food and coffee, which was quite low in the gastronomically expensive St Andrews. Ms Greig cooks rather than eating out to avoid high meal costs.
Our first case study underspent, and if she had spent this much for all 30 weeks of the two semesters, she would end up spending £1,843.20 per year. However, if she spends £90 per week as she usually does, she will be spending £2,700 per year, a sizable increase.
Next up is Liam Arne, a second year. He lives in a catered hall and tends to spend no money during the week. Mr Arne is a cautious budgeter.
He said: “Excluding the weekend, I typically spend no money at all. On the weekends when I have to get dinner, I usually get a £3 Tesco meal deal or occasionally a Tulsi curry for £6.50.”
True to his estimate, Mr Arne spent no money during the week, instead sharing an order of curry chips from Empire and some Tesco sushi with willing friends.
Our next student, Troy Takemori, is a first year. He estimated his weekly spending at £40-£50 per week. On Monday, he spent £20 on food and daily activities. Tuesday saw only £5 in spending, all for food. Wednesday was a bigger spending day, with a total of £27, £6 for food and £21 for a night out. On Thursday, Mr Takemori shelled out £13, £7 for pizza and £6 on going out. On Friday, the final count was £20 for a combination of food for cooking and a night at the Vic. Mr Takemori’s total was £85, over double his lower expected spending. Living like this will cost him £2,550 per year.
As a budget-conscious student, I decided to monitor my own spending as well. This week was a busy money week considering my catered status in University Hall. The amount I spent was raised because I was unable to eat in halls when meetings occurred during meals, laundry day fell on Tuesday and my realization that doing yoga on the hall carpets hurts your palms like little else. I estimated I would spend £20. On Monday, £4 went towards dinner. On Tuesday, I bought a £3 yoga mat, £7 worth of food and £5 of cleaning supplies for the £4 worth of laundry I later washed. Wednesday only cost me £3 for a Costa cappuccino the size of my face, and on Thursday I did not spend a pence. Friday arrived, and my Nando’s cost a reasonable £7. Overall, I spent £33, far more than I wished to lose.
In contrast, Evan Bederman is a fourth year at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Because of the school’s location in one of America’s biggest cities, his expenses were higher than those of most St Andrews students interviewed for this article. On Monday, lunch and dinner accounted for £31.39. On Tuesday, only £7.60 was spent on food and £3.51 on an online subscription. Wednesday found Mr Bederman spending £25.24 on food and some shopping. £30.34 paid for Thursday’s food, and Friday’s £27.44 covered the day’s meals. In total, Mr Bederman spent £116.53, more than many St Andrews students despite the University’s reputation.
Like every university, most St Andrews denizens live on a student budget, constantly checking Unidays and Groupon and pulling out their matriculation card at every store for that coveted student discount. Unless one turns their mind from academics, athletics, social life and clubs to focus on tracking daily spending, money can slip through your fingers. Whether you’re more of a Liam, Amy, Troy or Maya, perhaps experiments like this will make you more conscious of those everyday purchases that set you back over time, often without your knowledge.
Author: Maya Moritz