I never see my student loan, it all goes straight on rent and bills, bills, bills; and because of this, I’ve had to keep up part-time work throughout the course of my degree. At the end of second year, I got a new job at a certain high-end supermarket. It pays well, and I work many more hours than is advisable for a third-year grappling with dissertation doom, so in theory, I should be pretty financially comfortable, as students go. Yet here I am, no more than ten days into the month, once again fretfully close to minus numbers, and I’m starting to realise that this sorry situation in which I too often find myself, might, paradoxically, have something to do with my well-paying job.
I’d like to consider myself a reasonably thrifty student. I typically walk when I could bus, and I’m a huge advocate of beans on toast and pesto pasta as cheap-and-cheerful staple student meals. That said, working three shifts a week on the cheese and delicatessen counter of the distinguished supermarket in question has meant frequent exposure to, and overwhelming temptation by, what I’ll call ‘the finer things in life’, though I’m aware that in doing so I sound like a complete arse.
But DO YOU KNOW just how many cheeses there are that aren’t bog-standard mature cheddar? I didn’t either, but once you’ve discovered Petit Basque, Manchego, Ossau-Iraty, Vintage Smoked Applewood, and Soignon goat’s cheese (it’s a grower), you sure are on your way to cheese enlightenment. Naturally, these come at a not so student-friendly price. But when your manager insists you have a cheeky nibble on anything new to you in order to develop your product knowledge, you’ll soon be so hooked that you’re willing to fork out the cost. Add to the mix 14 month matured Serrano ham, premium Iberico chorizo, and the freshest line-caught tuna steak at £29.99 a kilo, as well as the patisserie’s finest Turkish baklava to satisfy your sweet tooth, and you’re well on the way to maxing out your overdraft.
And so it has come to be that my weekly shop costs a small fortune. This is in addition to the several mini shopping sprees that invariably follow every shift as I peruse the aisles without necessity on my way out. And though I’m fortunate enough to enjoy a sizeable staff discount, I’m undoubtedly still spending more than any student should.
I am learning to exercise some self-restraint in my scandalous love affair with luxury groceries. Recently, I’ll quite often opt to skip the seafood and pearl barley risotto in favour of some good old pesto pasta. Indeed, for the most part, prior indulgence has meant my bank balance is such that I’m forced to (oh, the injustice!). But rest assured, I’ll be living out on the streets before you catch me serving it up without a lavish sprinkling of only the finest Italian Grana Padano.