Is it just me, or is there something about being a student which means you completely and utterly lose a sense of the concept of money? I don’t just mean in terms of adjusting to a student lifestyle, but in terms of the priorities of spending which we students tend to adopt. Before I began University, I spent my precious weekends selling saucepans to the middle aged (thug life) in order to afford my spending habits. Now it has become a pleasant surprise to see numbers in my bank account which aren’t preceded by a minus sign. It’s odd how quickly you become accustomed to debt; at the beginning of first year I was determined to live on a hearty budget of Wickes paint stripper and congealed tomato juice – oh, er, basics Vodka and baked beans – in order to avoid the scary black hole I would inevitably be sucked into if I were to spend one penny into my overdraft. This sense of guilt had well and truly been stamped out by the time I went into NatWest, to ask if I could extend my overdraft, where I was greeted with a friendly “ooh, good summer?” and was just a button press away from one thousand squids all of my own.
Except, that’s the thing… it’s not my own. It is my debt, and one day, in the terrifyingly near future, this money will have to be returned (post degree travelling anyone? Finding yourself is practically a graduate scheme…). The deal of ‘you won’t pay us back until you’ve landed a decent wage’ sits very happily with an indecisive arts student like me. I mean, who needs a job when you can volunteer, right? Yet I kind of wish someone would try a little bit harder to instil me with some fear of quite how the real world works. I’ve got a nasty feeling it doesn’t involve bitching about Student Finance ‘cause you haven’t got your loan yet and the ASOS half-price sale is ending soon’.
I get the impression that I’m not the only one who suffers from what my brother described as my ‘blinkered world view’ (unless I am unknowingly one of those cartoon characters wandering around with dollar signs flashing over my eyes and I’m yet to realise it). Students have the weirdest perception of spending. We will grumble about the cost of petrol, books, even a £1.90 bus fare… before accidentally taking our debit card on a night out and laughing over the Jager shaped hole in our bank balance. And I mean, the price of meat is just extortionate, but it makes perfect sense to spend a fiver on a takeaway in which the quality of meat is so questionable it’s easiest just to lather it in garlic mayo and pretend it’s not happening. Books for your degree? Bloody rip off. Festival ticket? Well, that’s a human right… isn’t it?