I Bought the Power

(Article at ‘York Vision’)

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Adrian Horan argues that there has never been a better time to be a cheapskate

The future is dark for the modern cheapskate, not least because of this awful weather and the clocks having gone back on the 27th. Recently, the U.K.’s major suppliers have announced plans to increase prices on their rates for gas and electricity by a minimum of 8.2%. Yet, as winter is coming (I promise that wasn’t a ‘Game of Thrones’ reference), I ask myself the question – should I be ashamed of becoming a bargain hunter?

As we entered uni, our basic perceptions on how we lived our lives completely changed. Before, many of us had the luxury of being able to scoff at the thought of buying ‘ASDA Smart Price’ lemonade instead of ‘Schweppes’, or rolling our eyes as our Mums lit all of the scented candles in the living room rather than turning on the lamp. We weren’t independent adults, just people hiding under the security blankets of our parents’ success. Now, with a recent figure of one in ten undergraduates becoming unemployed, it’s paramount that we keep an eye on our wallets and don’t feel stigma for being a hermit and missing the odd ‘Tokyo, mate, it’s gonna be sick!’ night.

Sure, university is labelled as the ‘best time of your life’, and that shouldn’t be doubted. It’s just that it comes with a Mexican wave of changes – and it’s not in our control of who starts it. The problem with these various changes, however, is that it hits students disproportionately to one another. To the modern Scotsman who lives on campus, they may not notice these changes whatsoever. Yet, to an off-campus first year like myself, I spend my nights doing star jumps in my fluffy dressing gown to keep warm, instead of spending more money turning on the heating.

Young people hold a different stance in society now, where we were once looked on by older generations as the weapon of change for the future. Instead, we get the sympathy vote for our high levels of induced debt and our reluctance to say “keep the change!”. University is meant to be this time of freedom, where we can grow into the adults and transition into a likewise growing world. Are these views imposed on us beyond our control? Bargain hunting might just be the answer in changing those perceptions. Not having our lives dictated by ‘The Magnificent Six’ of the energy world, or even Michael Gove for that matter! Rather than being subject to change, we can subject our own change.

It never felt so good as to walk around charity shops, finding a triple Frank Sinatra CD for 50p; or getting a 10% NUS discount on a packet of lettuce that was already reduced. It’s trivial, but, it gives us that sense of freedom which we seem to be steadily losing as students. My teachers highly encouraged that we look at different options other than university in anticipation of ‘hard times’. Instead, taking on the challenge couldn’t feel more exciting – it might even give students a better image than writing ‘STUDENT LOANS’ aggressively into the air with a sparkler.

Cheapskates, rejoice, your resistance to buying high quality meals may just make this financial struggle a lot more empowering.

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