If 'Student' were a language, you could drop these staple sayings into any oral exam;
'Yesterday I increased my overdraft'
'Today I'm broke'
'Soon I might busk'
'Tesco reduced section FTW'
Budgeting becomes as natural as breathing for the average student. However, apart from those who seriously struggle, others are lucky enough to be buffered by student loans and overdrafts. As a student, paying for things is generally not a case of total destitution but of choosing between whether to catch a taxi at 4am or get cheesy chips and walk, of choosing to drink pear cider or just shot vodka, of buying birthday presents or resorting to IOU post-its. These luxurious choices are obviously more possible if you work during the holidays, ensuring your loan covers more than a bottom bunk and half a hob. Don't get me wrong, the end of term often devolves into substituting spag bol for Billy Bear ham, but summers are lengthy enough to pick up some extra dosh. You might not be out of the red, but you have the opportunity to enjoy a lighter shade of scarlet.
Stuff changes when you graduate. Your student card deteriorates into a nostalgic piece of plastic, your expenditure spirals into banality and the resulting feeling of independence feels about as good as being overtaken by a mobility scooter.
The odd 10% discount is surely just as, if not more, important during this limbo between graduation and finding a job as it was during student life. God knows I need to save pennies more now that I have a black Labrador for a social life than when I had a bar for a basement. A student card would be far more valued now I need to drive to encounter fellow human beings than when I drove purely to acquire a free McDonald's hamburger for the man vs food competitions of third year. Now I'd need the burger purely for sustenance after my car breaks down thanks to the affordable nature of petrol.
It's not like graduates have the cheek to spend money on fun, we're resigned that those days are long gone. No, instead of saving a fiver for fancy dress from Age Concern, I'm purchasing what Christina from Specsavers informs me are glasses that will cost me £200. I'm advised to buy the expensive ones so that I 'no look like granny or have them break my face.' Having gone to university with 20:20 vision, it's a great honour to be charged for the visual destruction that three years of dimly lit Shakespeare inspires. This was not included in tuition fees, which were busy covering roughly 7 hours contact time per decade. And no, Christina, I do not have any of these elusive promotion vouchers which you speak of. I'm sure someone with perfect vision has them tucked away in their purse, thanks to the genius invention of 'target-advertising'/ general con-artistry.
At least opticians help you out while you're a student. Dentists reckon that once you're nineteen (an age which, unless you are a child prodigy, you've done very well to have graduated by) you must be minted. Second years could pay £18 to be told that their teeth are 'fine.' This cost does not include any customer satisfaction, dental treatment or stickers. On the bright side, a filling can set you back a good £100, which involves enough injections to make it seem worthwhile. You might as well eat some Haribo to add an element of unpredictability. There's no point being healthy and eating at YO! Sushi if you no longer get 25% off.
Don't get me wrong, us graduates don't want to go on the dole and claim benefits. Most of us held down a job or two whilst at uni - albeit the proceeds may have gone to trebles and toasties. We're not slobs, and most of us want to evade the snare of purposeless unemployment and earn for ourselves as soon as possible. But we need retail therapy more than the wild young freshers about to take our place.
At least National Rail keeps you feeling like a 'Young Person' until you're 25. If entitled to a five year free railcard with your student bank account, don't forget to apply for it. That would make you feel very silly and possibly drive you to write an article yearning the mistake. No sympathy expected.