Money Diary: An Optometry Student In Cardiff, Finishing Her Exams

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking a cross-section of women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.
This week: "I’m a second-year optometry student and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks living at uni in a nearly empty house to concentrate on revising for exams. I recently left my retail job of nearly five years, which I worked full-time during uni holidays and part-time (12-16 hours) during term. I miss the social aspect of retail a lot but this is my first exam season job-free and I’m finding it far less stressful than other years when I’ve been working! There was a bit of overlap between that job and my current job at an optician's, meaning I’m due some tax back and I’m not 100% sure what my paycheques should look like yet.
My new job is on a zero-hour contract, meaning no shifts during term-time. During the holidays I get 30-40 hours so it’s been really good for work/uni balance. I’ve got my grad job sorted for next year and I have savings from working before, meaning I’m not having to dip into my overdrafts or worry about making ends meet until payday."
Industry: Student
Age: 21
Location: Cardiff
Salary: £10.30 hourly
Paycheque amount: £800-£1,200 when full time.
Number of housemates: At home, three; at uni, five (and my hamster!).
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: Rent is £375 (half rent over summer) and bills are £31. Most of this is covered by my maintenance loan, and I top the rest up.
Loan payments: None (student loans will be about £50k when I graduate).
Transportation: Around £20 on petrol, £509 annual car insurance, free road tax, and I bought my car outright using furlough paycheques.
Phone bill: £20 SIM only (definitely getting a cheaper one when this runs out) and my phone is a hand-me-down.
Savings? My savings from working are across a savings account and a Help To Buy ISA.
Other: Used to pay for student Spotify but now I’m added onto our Spotify family account. I also leech off my dad’s Netflix and use my housemate's Prime/ASOS next-day delivery. £9.99 annual Pretty Little Thing next-day delivery. £30 annual student membership to the General Optical Council. During term-time I pick up a couple of shifts at uni for £10-15 an hour, and recently I’ve started doing surveys online (I’ve got about £40 from this so far).

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series