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5th March 2019

Living on £20 a week: a guide

Sophia Ashby challenges herself to live on £20 for a week, offering her experiences and advice in the process.
Living on £20 a week: a guide
Photo: Images Money @ Flickr

£20 in 7 days. That equates to roughly £2.80 a day, or the cost of a standard Morrison’s cheese sandwich. Impossible, right?

For a while now, there has been a trend of bloggers and influencers attempting to live off £1 a day. For the most part their pursuits have been depressing, if not unsuccessful. The issue I saw in their approach was to start every day with £1, rather than spending the money at once.

Let’s be real: we are all feeling the financial pressures of university. If meal deals were not tempting enough, the call to a night out is certainly. I was curious to see whether this could be done, and after an admittedly boring week, this is what I learned.

Sharing is caring — £20 a week is not a lot, but £40 between two of you will go much further. Doubling your budget with a friend will help relieve the cost of a food shop, minimise waste, and keep you motivated. I found that the challenge was quite a lonely affair. But, if you have a friend who is willing to scrimp with you, you will find alternative ways of having fun.

A packed lunch is key – this might seem like an obvious one, but buying lunch every day can really eat into your budget (if you’ll pardon the pun). The same goes for tea and coffee! Include quick and easy lunch items into your weekly shop to avoid unexpected costs.

Shop around – we have all heard the rumours that the Fallowfield Sainsbury’s is the most expensive in the country. Despite its convenience, it is not an option if you are looking to save money on food. Aldi and Lidl are your best bet. It also goes without saying that own brand alternatives are a must. Another useful tip is shopping for your fruit and vegetables at a market. There is a plethora of produce along the curry mile.

Fresh vs Tinned – cooking from scratch is an absolute must when you are on a tight budget. I would suggest perusing the tinned isle. From vegetables to pulses and even to meat, tinned cans have it all. It may seem unappealing at first, but with a little skill and creativity tinned beef isn’t so gag-inducing.

The library is your friend – living on a strict budget can really help you focus. Without the prospect of fun, you will be more likely to knuckle down and finish that assignment. It is also a free alternative to working in cafes, where you are expected to buy food or a drink to use their Wi-Fi.

Sticking to a strict budget is boring, and sometimes you will feel like you are missing out. But there are times when we must all be strict with ourselves. £20 is more than enough to feed yourself, and when it comes down to it, that is all that matters. Find alternative ways to socialise that do not include drinking. In fact, start by trying to be strict during a week that suits your academic timetable. This way, you will be less likely to feel the loss of socialising if you know you need to spend a lot of time working.

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