My Money: 'Lockdown has been a blessing in disguise'

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ThanuchaImage source, Thanucha Sooriapatham

My Money is a series looking at how people spend their money - and the sometimes tough decisions they have to make. Here Thanucha Sooriapatham, 21, from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire talks us through her week's spending during lockdown.

Thanucha is a final year pharmacology student who is living at home with her parents and two sisters. At the start of lockdown both her parents were placed on furlough.

Last year, she started working in her local Tesco and has kept this up during her studies. She also does some tutoring work. Despite having to chip in for rent and extra bills Thanucha has been able to save each month, putting the money towards her master's degree.

Over to Thanucha....

Image source, Thanucha Sooriapatham
Image caption,
Working in her local Tesco is helping Thanucha save money towards her master's degree

I had online lectures all day today and my sisters had school, so we were all in our study corners doing our work. For breakfast I had some tea and a pain au chocolat and then a couple of oranges as a snack later on. It's final year, and it's getting up to coursework deadline week so I'm feeling pretty stressed. My mum kindly made us lunch - some chicken, rice and vegetables and I had a Snickers bar for dessert.

After uni at about 4:30, I gave a maths lesson to some children online. I started tutoring when I was doing my A-levels, but lockdown has meant that I have more time in the evenings to give more lessons to students. I love teaching so sometimes it doesn't even feel like I'm working.

Image source, Thanucha Sooriapatham

I try not to spend the money I earn from it, instead I save 25% of it for the trips I'd like to go on and the rest goes towards saving up for my master's degree. In the evening I went for a walk with my family. We took the country roads, and it was lovely watching the sunset. I like taking a lot of photos and videos and so today I also had to pay £2.49 to Apple for my iCloud storage - it's a monthly subscription. I wasn't very hungry during dinner, so I made myself a cheese toastie, watched old episodes of Bake Off with my family and then read my book!

Total spend: £2.49

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I woke up this morning and had some granola and a banana. As I didn't have any lectures until the afternoon, I spent the morning working on my dissertation.

After lunch, I joined some of my university tutorials and group discussions. Later on, in the evening, I gave two online maths tuitions and then had some pasta for dinner (left over from lunch). Although I didn't spend anything today, the bill for the wi-if came out of my bank account. I pay £23.50 per month. It used to be £19 per month but I decided to get fibre optic to get faster broadband.

This has especially become handy as I live somewhere with a very bad wi-fi connection, and it tends to get very slow when five people are using it at the same time.

Total spend: £23.50

This morning I had a quick breakfast before driving to my local supermarket to do some shopping. We usually do a big shop on Friday, but I needed a couple of ingredients for some baking I was going to do later. In total, I spent £22.37 - more than I was anticipating. Usually when I shop, I stick to my shopping list but today I spent a lot of time browsing.

Image source, Thanucha Sooriapatham
Image caption,
One of Thanucha's healthy recipes

I picked up some books and a lot of snacks for me and my sisters. As I work at the store on the weekends, I get a small 10% discount during my shops. It's not a lot, but I guess it adds up over time.

When I got back home, I baked a coffee and walnut cake and then spent the afternoon working on my dissertation again before spending the evening giving some classes. In the evening I made a vegetable noodle soup for my family and we watched some TV.

Lockdown has made me try out a lot of new healthy recipes that I perhaps would've just bought when I was commuting to uni.

Total spend: £22.37

Image source, Thanucha Sooriapatham

I let myself have a lie in today as I didn't have any lectures in the morning. My family and I drove to a nearby village and took a long hike through the woods. We had never done that route before and it was great fun as the entire woodland was desolate. For lunch, as a treat we went to a McDonalds drive through today and bought some fries and apple pies. The total came to £3.97. I also had to buy a postage label for a package I was sending to someone through Vinted (an app to sell clothes). It cost 96p but it will be reimbursed by the buyer.

I made some pitta bread triangles and fresh hummus as a snack for my evening lectures. I have a 4-6pm lecture and a revision session with my friends on Thursdays, so I missed dinner. Instead, I made a fruit salad and watched The Devil Wears Prada before bed.

Total spend: £4.93

Image source, Thanucha Sooriapatham

Today was a big day in terms of spending. This morning I had a quick breakfast of pain au chocolat and a cup of tea and then drove to the post office to send off some letters and a package (£13.70). My mum and I also went to do a big shop today at Tesco. I got paid today which means the colleague discount increases from 10% to 15% for 4 days.

We usually take advantage of this and do the majority of the food shopping for the month. I thought I'd treat myself today and buy some large Easter eggs, candles and ingredients for some food I wanted to make, (£21.04).

Back home, I spent a little while tidying the house and helping with lunch and then worked on my dissertation. I bought some new chopsticks from Amazon (£8.99). I have a subscription to Amazon Prime as I get a student discount on it - it's a good service as it includes video, shopping, library and music only for £3.99 a month. I also bought a birthday card for my friend from Etsy (£3.85).

As its payday, I have a lot of bills which I have to pay, such as the insurance for my car (£90). I only got my driving licence a little over a year ago so it's cheaper for me to just be added a third driver on my parents' car. I also make sure to put away £200 into my Help to Buy ISA at the start of each month which I did today. There's a good interest rate on it and I think it will be really useful when I actually get around to buying a house.

Total spend: £137.58

I spent most of the morning reading and watching TV shows on my laptop. After lunch, I went for my 3-8pm shift at Tesco.

It was really busy today, but I got through it! I only had a 15-minute break so there wasn't enough time to eat a meal, so I bought some chocolate (£0.85) and a bottle of water (£1).

I also grabbed some free packs of pears and olive bread out of the colleague shop at the back. Most of the time it's out of date vegetables or bread but it's still edible and sometimes you find absolute gems for free. I also bought some Surf washing powder. It had been reduced from £8 to £4 but I got it for £3.40 with my discount.

Total spend: £5.25

I had a 10am to 4pm shift at work today. For lunch I bought myself a meal deal (smoked cheddar and ham sandwich, a smoothie and a chocolate) for £2.55 with my staff discount.

I also found some Berliner doughnuts in the colleague shop for free.

When I got home, I ate a quick snack and then did an at-home workout. I can't wait for the gyms to open up again so I can have more space to do my workouts and can do more of a variety of exercises. I then planned out the rest of my week and worked a little more on my dissertation before reading my book and going to bed. £3.99 also came out of my account for my Amazon Prime subscription today.

Total spend: £6.54

Total spent this week: £202.66

How does Thanucha feel about her week?

I think I had a good week in terms of spending. As I got paid, I spent quite a bit of money on things I don't really need but at the same time I stuck to my saving plan of putting 75% of my weekly earnings towards my master's degree.

I definitely spent less than I usually would as some weeks I have to contribute towards the rent and pay electric bills. On the other hand, lockdown has really been a blessing in disguise for me as I was able to work more hours and hit my savings goal - something I wouldn't have been able to do had I continued commuting into London for university.