As a student, my economic lifestyle tends to revolve around the cycle of spending as little as possible during the university year, and then earning as much as possible during the three-month summer holiday. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain this balance, with my bank overdraft becoming noticeably larger and larger, writes Sarah Cottam.
My main expenditure at university is food, yet the prices recently have been increasing slowly in supermarkets – not helped by inflation and the VAT rise which, whilst in terms of each individual product does not matter, when the final total at the till racks up, it is considerably more than it ever used to be. This has led to countless hours that I now spend trawling the supermarket aisles comparing the prices of every single item in my basket, along with analysing all the offers, to see which is the cheapest, turning what would’ve been a quick trip into at least an hour. It is even harder as a student to live the so-called ‘healthy lifestyle’, with the costs of fruit and vegetables being far higher than the regularly promoted and cheap ready meals. It’s no wonder that many choose not to live healthily.
Similarly, while many would consider a trip to the supermarket to be just that, my friends and I find ourselves making the journey to at least three supermarkets, along with various local shops and the town market, comparing whatever prices we can in a desperate attempt to reduce our expenditure.
It is also clear however, that businesses are struggling, as people reduce their spending, leading to the new mantra ‘don’t spend unless you have a voucher’. This has been one of the most beneficial changes due to the current economic climate; it doesn’t matter whether you’re shopping online or going to a restaurant, you can normally dig out a voucher that gives you some sort of discount whether it is free postage or a two-for-one.
When it comes to returning home after the university year has finished, there is only one thing on every student’s mind, and that is finding a job. The retail sector is said to be one of the UK’s biggest employers with part-time jobs ideal for students, yet the sheer amount of shops that have closed in my local area in the past 12 months help to indicate the lack of possible employers. Since being home this year, I have distributed countless amounts of CVs, all with the promise of a return phone call. However, when businesses often don’t even give you a response, there is little pushing you on to continue looking. Despite having had previous work experience and living in a city that is bucking the unemployment trend, trying to find work has been extremely difficult when what jobs that are available all require ‘previous experience’, yet how can you get experience when no-one will give you a chance?
Sarah Cottam is an undergraduate at Loughborough University, and she is juggling three jobs during her summer holiday. She is a diarist for the British Future Generation 2012 project, which seeks to find out more about how 18-25s perceive the challenges of the economic downturn.
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