“I decided to do my master’s degree part-time so I could work alongside my studies. I had a job throughout my undergraduate degree so this felt natural to me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to put 100% into my studies if I chose to do the programme full-time and have a job simultaneously. Now, I love the flexibility that comes with my schedule from doing both – and because of this, I’ve also been able to grow my nail business side hustle, too. Overall, I think my approach to money is generally ok – I make sure I save some of my earnings every month. I find I budget most effectively when it comes to essentials such as groceries, but often splurge when it comes to non-essentials like online shopping and going out.”
Morning: Woke-up and had some fruit and yoghurt before starting work. On Monday mornings I work from home as a social media officer for the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). It’s one of three jobs I have alongside my studies, and it lets me immerse myself in the world of astronomy and the space industry. Hopefully the experience will also help me find a full-time role after I graduate! I start my day by checking the Society’s social media platforms, then move on to planning and scheduling social media content for the week.
Afternoon: Made a vegan cheese wrap and some crisps for lunch, with ingredients already in the house. I’ve been vegetarian for six years and am trying to eat more plant-based food and less dairy – both for my health and the environment! I then had an online lecture from 1-4pm.
Evening: After my lecture I spent some time making notes and having a go at this week’s coursework. At 5pm I started cooking dinner – a courgette and pea risotto with garlic bread for me and my family. After eating I drove to work – I also work part-time at Waitrose and Partners, and my Monday shift starts at 6.30pm. Evening shifts are really convenient as they fit around my main job and studies, and if I need any ingredients for dinner during the week, I can get them before or after work!
Groceries: £0 – ingredients from a previous shop.
Phone: £12 – this goes out once a week.
Transport: £0 – I drove myself to work. I fill my car with petrol every 3 weeks, so no extra fuel was needed for my trip.
Remaining weekly budget: £198
Morning: Started the day by doing a 30-minute stretch (guided by a yoga instructor on YouTube), and then went for a walk in my local park. Came back home for breakfast – yoghurt and fruit with a cup of coffee.
Afternoon: After a chilled morning I grabbed some toast for lunch and then went to get a facial and my eyebrows waxed. I go about once every six weeks and it’s quite a big spend for me (£50 for facial, £15 for eyebrows) so I usually balance this out by saving £10 or so each week leading up to my appointment – my beautician only accepts cash, so I find this helps with saving; I never really spend cash anywhere else! Once I got home, I prepared for a beauty client of my own: as well as my jobs at the RAS and Waitrose, I do nails on the side – it’s more of a hobby than anything, but I really enjoy it. Today’s client wanted a set of plain colour gels, which I charge £15 for.
Evening: My family was out and I didn’t fancy cooking, so I had leftover risotto for dinner before driving to Waitrose for another shift. I ended up buying some boxes of fruit for breakfast while I was there (£9.56).
Groceries: £9.56 - fruit.
Transport: £0 - I drove myself.
Other: £65 - beauty treatments.
Remaining weekly budget: £123.44
Morning: Started my day with a 15-minute stretch to loosen my muscles up – I find that working at a desk most of the time makes me stiff. Breakfast was Weetabix with a slice of toast (already in cupboard), then I sat down to work a full day for the RAS. Had a cup of tea and a croissant mid-morning (from my last food shop).
Afternoon: Took a walk to get some fresh air before another vegan cheese wrap for lunch. After that, I logged on to our weekly team meeting – it lasts about an hour and is a great way to connect with my colleagues and find out what they’re up to.
Evening: Made a vegetable lasagne for myself and my family, using ingredients from our cupboards, although I did pop out and buy some garlic bread and mozzarella for the top of the lasagne (£6). After dinner, I had another nail client – I charged £20 this time, for the removal of her old gels and the application of a new set. After that, I got into bed and did some online shopping (my bad habit!) – ended up buying a top and a dress in the sale (£28).
Groceries: £6 – extra ingredients for dinner.
Other: £28 – online shopping order.
Remaining weekly budget: £89.44
Morning: Had a bowl of fruit, a slice of toast and a herbal tea in front of my morning lecture which runs from 10am-1pm. It was for my favourite module, electromagnetic radiation in astrophysics. Our exams are just a month away, so this lecture was a recap of all the material we’ve covered so far.
Afternoon: The afternoon was spent running errands – I popped into Superdrug to buy some shampoo and ended up picking up some extra bits like hand sanitizer, hay fever medication and lip balm (£19). Then I popped to Greggs and got a vegan sausage roll and a Ribena for lunch (£3.50).
Evening: Made jacket potatoes for me and my family, all with ingredients we had in the house. I then used my free evening to take stock of my nail equipment and organise my nail table. I placed an online order to get some supplies that I was running low on (£8).
Going out and eating out: £3.50 – Greggs.
Other: £27 – Superdrug bits and nail supplies.
Remaining weekly budget: £58.94
Morning: Friday is my last working day of the week, so the morning was spent in meetings with my RAS team. I only had a cup of tea and a banana for breakfast as it was a busy morning!
Afternoon: I was quite hungry after my small breakfast, so I made my vegan cheese wrap and then walked to my local shop to buy some biscuits to satisfy my sweet tooth (£1.50). After I got back, I carried on with work until 5pm, then had a cup of tea (and more biscuits!) with my sister when she got home from work.
Evening: My aunt popped over with some curry for dinner, so I cooked some rice from the cupboard to have with it. As it’s Friday night, I thought I’d unwind with a nice long bath and a good book – I’m currently reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett with a book club I’m in at work. I really enjoy getting together each month to discuss the books, and I’ve found it’s a really good way to broaden my reading horizons.
Groceries: £1.50 – biscuits.
Remaining weekly budget: £57.44
Saturday: Woke-up and did another 30-minute guided stretch – I like to spend longer stretching when I know I have more time! I then had a nail client – the appointment took an hour and I made £15. I had a banana and green tea for lunch as I knew I was eating out for dinner.
Got the tube into central London and met a friend for dinner and drinks in the evening (dinner and drinks £25, tube return £10). After dinner, we went for a stroll along the Southbank as the weather was lovely. Got the tube home and was in bed by midnight.
Sunday: Sunday was a relaxed day – after a breakfast of yoghurt and fruit, I caught up with my chores and laundry and spent some time organising my uni notes ahead of my exams – I have three this semester. After that, I went for a walk in a country park near my house before coming home and ordering pizza for my sister and I (£19.99). I then watched a few episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine before bed.
Going out and eating out: £44.99
Remaining weekly budget: £2.45
Rent (incl. utilities): £0
Going out/eating out: £48.49
ACTUAL SPEND: £207.55
PREDICTED SPEND: £210
UNDERSPEND OF WEEKLY BUDGET: +£2.45
WEEKLY EARNINGS: £300
LEFTOVER EARNINGS: £92.45
“That’s quite a work ethic you have there, Gurjeet! Deciding to study for your master’s degree part-time is obviously working well for you, and it’s a brilliant idea to find work in your area of interest for those networking opportunities.
In terms of your spending, you clearly take a methodical approach despite your occasional splurge. To keep track of those treats, maybe you could have a separate ‘pot’ of money for online shopping and dinners out. If you decide what proportion of your wages you can afford to set aside for treats it’ll help you stick to your budget consistently – which’ll be even more important if you move out at some point and have rent to contend with, too.”
Make some space in your budget to treat yourself! I knew I wanted a relaxing facial this week so I set aside some money each week for the last couple of months and booked in with my beautician once I’d saved enough to pay for my treatment.
Plan ahead: map out your dinners for the week, and you’ll be much better at spending when it comes to food. I didn’t have a dinner plan for Sunday which is why I got pizza instead. I definitely could’ve saved that £20 instead!
Going over your budget occasionally isn’t the end of the world – use your spending habits to better prepare for next week and realise where you can choose alternatives to spending.