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Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

Money diaries – Jena

Reading Time: 4 minutes


Programme: Mathematics

Year of study: Second year

Accommodation type: University self-catered accommodation

Part-time job: Student Ambassador

Day one

I wake up and go to a gym class that I have booked in the Pleasance Gym & Sport Complex of the University. I love to start my week with a strength training class because nothing feels better than preparing myself with strong arms and stair-climbing legs.

For breakfast, I have two boiled eggs and a glass of milk or Vietnamese milk coffee I bring from home! After my business tutorial in the central campus, I walk back to my accommodation to eat lunch, which I have prepared the previous weekend.

I take the shuttle bus to King’s Buildings, I like to stay there almost the whole day because most of my classes are in King’s, then self-study in the Nucleus building. Also, I know for sure if I go back to my accommodation early, I will procrastinate doing assignments.

After dinner, I spend the evening scrolling social media then doing reading for some other courses.

Total: £0

Day two

Another gym class in the morning. I recommend the Pleasance Gym for those who want to stay active but are hesitating about the price, as the gym membership of the University has a really good price (£77 for a semester and £175 for a year). Plus, they offer both free and priced gym classes, ranging from cardio, cycle, strength, to yoga-style.

I love to start the day with a slice of toast with peanut butter and a glass of milk. I’m obsessed with peanut butter (team crunchy, who’s with me?)

I go to a lecture and have my lunch break until attending the weekly meeting as a part of the Edinburgh Award under the School of Mathematics.

After that, me and my friends discuss and work on our maths written hand-in together in the library. Then I went to Lidl to buy some oranges and yogurt, which cost £4.

For dinner I cook some Vietnamese food because I still have tons of seasonings and marinade sauces that my mom sent me during Christmas.

Meal prepping my overnight oats and scrolling my Instagram reels but came across one that shows how to make rose strawberries. And I knew I would make it for my close friends for Valentine’s Day.

Total: £4

Day three

I don’t go to gym today because I need to continue working on the hand-in that’s due soon. I then have my overnight oats and some tea.

Pack my lunch, attend my double lectures and continue with self-study in the Nucleus Building.

It’s Valentine’s Day (Galentine for me)! A friend invited me to come over and cook together a simple meal then we can discuss our hand-in afterwards. (We ended up chatting after finishing our meals…) Attend role-playing games society session in the evening for three hours after going to buy skewers, £1.49, to start my plan of making rose strawberries (I couldn’t buy strawberries because they were out of stock).

Total: £1.49

Two bowls of noodles

A simple meal with a friend

Day four

Another gym class in the morning. I then go to Tesco to get two packs of strawberries, which cost £4.50.

Same as yesterday. I pack my lunch then go to the housing fair in Potterow (central campus) to look for accommodation for next year then take the shuttle bus to King’s Buildings.

Thursday is the busiest day of the week because I have four maths classes. I head back early because my brain cannot function anymore after three workshops and one lecture. I also went to Tesco to buy a ready meal for dinner at the reduced-price section, which cost me around £2.

After dinner, I carved rose strawberries to bring them to my friends on Friday. Evening well spent.

Total: £6.50

Jena's strawberry roses

Homemade strawberry ‘roses’

Day five

I head to gym to attend a cycle class.

I have breakfast, go to a workshop, and hand out my strawberry-flavoured roses to friends (and of course, my crush, shhh…), which feels super accomplished.

I go to buy groceries for next week, which cost £16.75. For dinner, I cooked a simple pasta dish with whatever ingredients I had left in the fridge then spend the evening listening to podcasts.

Total: £16.75

Day six

After spending 45 minutes in the gym, I go back for breakfast and do laundry, which costs £3 for both washing machine and dryer.

I go to the library to study.

It’s finally the weekend! Me and some Vietnamese friends come together to make Vietnamese food because we miss it so much! After splitting the bills, groceries cost me around £6.50.

Total: £9.50

Jena's Vietnamese feast

A homemade Vietnamese feast

Day seven

After breakfast, I have a dance fit class with a friend in the gym.

Like yesterday, I head back to get breakfast and go to the library. Taking a short walk around the city is definitely my favourite thing to do in Edinburgh!

After dinner, I meal prep for the following week. Meal prepping is one of the best saving habits I have developed during my university life because this doesn’t only save me money, time but also a good way to not waste time thinking about what to eat, especially as a not so good decision-maker like me.

Finishing reading and a maths quiz, I check the deadlines to plan for next week.

It’s been a typical week in terms of expenses for a university student in Edinburgh. Lots of walking and home-cooked meals, and a few treats here and there. Overall, I’ve managed to stick to my budget quite well!

Total: £0

The Vennel in Edinburgh

Weekly Total: £38.24

Other costs

Rent: University accommodation: £4,589 for an academic year including bills (from 14/9/2023 – 31/5/2024)

Internet: £8 for my data usage each month (approximately £2 per week).

Earnings: From my part time job as a student ambassador, I make on average £200 per month (around £50 per week), but it also depends on which time of the year (for example, I will spend more hours working during the beginning of the year and around the time that offer holder events take place).

Savings: I have a savings account where I put most of my money into, and transfer to my main account at the beginning of each month. This will depend on the budget that I estimate. I think this is a good way to manage my money better as I will have the intention to only spend the amount of money in my main account within that month.

Transport: I either walk to the central campus (10-minute walk) or take the shuttle bus to King’s Buildings. As my main way of commuting is by bus and walking, I almost don’t spend money on traveling in Edinburgh thanks to my Young Scot card, allowing free bus travel for Scottish residence around Scotland. The University also provides free shuttle bus for all staff and students every weekday from central campus to King’s Buildings and vice versa.

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