Welcome to our Money Diary series. Take a look at the day-to-day lives of our students as they share their weekly spend and activities while studying at Norland.  

Second-year student Jess (Set 46) takes us through a busy week of family placement, part-time work and study. This week, Jess focuses on how she saves money for her driving lessons by budgeting and batch cooking, which also saves time in her busy schedule, as well as reducing food waste using the Too Good To Go app.  

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about why you chose to study at Norland?  

My name is Jess and I’m in my second year at Norland. I’m originally from Rugby in the West Midlands and, prior to Norland, completed A-levels in English, History, Textiles and French. 

I chose to study at Norland because I love working with children, especially children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), and being able to support them one-to-one in all aspects of care. I was really impressed by the welcoming feel of Norland and the high level of student support, an important factor for me when I was leaving home. 

Lots of students at Norland fund their studies through multiple channels. Could you talk a little bit about your experience of paying your fees, living costs and doing fun things?  

I’m very fortunate to be a full bursary holder, which tops up the student loan to cover the fees, enabling me to study at Norland. I would have never been able to fund it otherwise, coming from a low-income background and social housing.  I love to socialise with friends, have movie nights, explore different areas of Somerset and go to the theatre, which I achieve by saving through careful budgeting. I also receive a student maintenance loan which covers some living costs. 

Norland Student in Uniform standing outside gates

Do you have a job or do any extra work on top of your studies?  

I do extra work on top of my studies to make my living more comfortable and to also fund my driving lessons. I’m a qualified gymnastics coach and work at a gymnastics club in Bath, as well as nannying for a 10-year-old boy and his siblings aged two and four. I have reduced my work going into my second year to enable me to enjoy more of what Norland has to offer, including social events like the winter BBQ a few weeks ago. 

Approximately how much is your rent and bills?  

My rent is currently £495 a month, plus £40 a month for bills. I share a house with four of my closest friends from Norland and living together is noisy but fun! 

Did you save up before you started at Norland? 

Yes, I had several jobs throughout sixth form and put the money into savings to start me off at Norland.

 

Norland student in dress in front of projector at an event

This week: The last week of my four-week first family placement in second year. This week, I balanced placement, work and socialising. I also tried Too Good To Go, an app that enables you to buy food from restaurants and shops providing access to affordable restaurant-quality food and reducing food waste! 

 

Sunday  

8am  I woke up, and made a breakfast of porridge and tea, using ingredients in my cupboard. 

10am – I walked to the local Lidl supermarket and did my weekly shop for £8. I have found the secret to keeping costs low is batch cooking, ensuring meat and veggies are included in every meal and providing quick and convenient home-cooked meals when you are tired after a long day. We learn batch cooking as part of our Food and Nutrition lectures which is part of the Norland diploma, we also learn about balanced diets for children and babies and cooking for families!  

11am – I did my batch cooking of sausage and mushroom pasta with mixed veg and tomato sauce. Total cost for 4 portions was £1.20 (from my weekly shop) as I used mixed veg and sausages that I already had in my freezer, I mostly tend to freeze my batch cooked meal and alternate with other things, but I really enjoy this pasta dish and find it better from the fridge!  

12pm – Lunch and afternoon study at home. 

3pm – Nannied for a two-year-old girl and four-year-old boy. We had lots of outdoor play and built a den in the playroom. 

7pm – I returned home with a fish pie as a gift from my employer who had excess, saving food from waste. Perfect for dinner the next day! 

8pm – Left the house to travel to Pizza Express to pick up my surprise bag, which I had ordered from Too Good To Go. £2 on the bus, and a friend drove me home. The bag was £4.50 and contained a hot lasagne. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was convenient if you fancy lasagne! 

10pm – Got ready for bed. 

11pm – Bedtime. 

Total cost for the day: £14.50 

Norland student holding a tray of food in a kitchen

Monday 

8am – Got up, had my usual breakfast using groceries purchased yesterday, and did some morning study at home. 

10am-6pm – Family placement with two girls, aged one and three. I’m really enjoying my second placement and I am sad that we are already in the last week! My highlights have included swimming with the children. The family provide me with lunch each day and pay for any excursions, which also helps me with my finances. 

7pm – I had my fish pie dinner.   

8-10pm – Studied at home. 

11pm – Bedtime. 

Total cost for the day: £0 

 

Tuesday  

7.30am – Got up, had breakfast and did some morning yoga. I also enjoyed my daily French and Spanish practice. 

9-5pm – Family placement: today’s highlight was making 60 sugar-free granola biscuits. The recipe was for 20 but I couldn’t stop there! 

7pm – Ate dinner, which was my batch-cooked sausage pasta. 

8-10pm – Study: I’m currently writing my literature review on the topic of the benefit of children’s play and it ties in really well with placement when you can see those play types in action. 

11pm – Bedtime. 

Total cost for the day: £0 

Norland student standing in kitchen holding plates of biscuits

Wednesday 

8am – Got up, had breakfast, did some morning study. 

10-6pm – Family placement: today, I ended up making them my signature bake, Bara Brith, to celebrate my Welsh heritage. The children were involved in the baking. The three-year-old girl was very good at mixing the ingredients together and when it was ready, we all ate it together. It was great as it was a low sugar recipe as I know the parents are concerned about high sugar levels. It was delicious and I was glad to share one of my specialities with them! 

8-10pm – Study. 

11pm – Bedtime. 

Total cost for the day: £0 

 

Thursday 

7.30 – Got up, had breakfast, did some morning yoga and practiced my French and Spanish.  

9-5pm – Family placement: today was the last day. It has been an unforgettable four weeks and I have enjoyed every minute! 

5.30pm – Got the bus into town to collect my Greggs surprise bag from Too Good To Go which was £1.70 fare each way. I didn’t have high hopes after Pizza Express, but as it was only £2.50 for the bag I gave it a go, and the collection time was 6-6.15pm as opposed to 8.45pm on Sunday, making it easier to arrange.  

6pm – Collected the bag, after going to the wrong Greggs (only Bath would have two stores so close to each other!) For £2.50, I got a ham and cheese baguette, tuna baguette, sausage roll and iced doughnut. Definitely a success as this gave me lunch for Friday and Saturday! 

7pm – Had dinner, which was sausage pasta. 

8-10pm – Study. 

11pm – Bedtime.  

Total cost for the day: £5.90 

Norland student in blue raincoat stood outside

Friday 

6am – Woke up, had breakfast and got ready. 

7am-9am – Did the school run for one of the families I nanny for, with their 10-year-old boy. He lives about a 10-minute walk from me so it’s quite handy. I help him get washed and ready and pack his bag for school.  

10am – Walked to college to hand in my placement paperwork. I had submitted the rest of it on Thursday night online. 

10.45am – Got the bus to Bristol for my driving lesson. £2 as Bristol is in a different bus zone. I attend driving lessons weekly. It’s always been my dream to drive and follow in my grandad’s footsteps as he’s the only one in my family who can drive. 

11.40am-1.30pm – Looked around the shops, had a picnic lunch of a ham baguette (from my Too Good To Go bag!), crisps and an apple.  

1.30pm-3pm – Driving lesson: £55 for the 1hr 30-minute lesson. It went well and I feel confident for my driving test which is next half term. I fund my driving lessons from paid work during the term and back home during the holidays. 

3pm-3.15pm – I walked to the nearby bakery and treat myself to a biscuit or piece of cake as I’m usually tired after driving. £1.50, reduced as the shop was shutting at 3.30pm! 

3.20pm – Caught the bus back to Bath: £2.

4.15pm – Arrived back at the house. 

5pm – Walked to Norland for an evening study session, taking my sausage pasta and laptop with me.  

9.30pm – Walked home. 

11pm – Bedtime. 

Total cost for the day: £60.50 

Student in hat stood outside the ruins of a castle

Saturday 

7am – Woke up, did some stretching ahead of gymnastics in the afternoon to stretch my splits. Had breakfast and got dressed as well as packing my gym bag. 

8.15am – Walked to Rainbows with a friend, who is also a Norland student. We have run our own Rainbow unit together since November as I’m a qualified Rainbows Leader and we have both been involved in Girlguiding for over 10 years. 

9am-12pm – Rainbows session. It was a lot of fun and great to meet new Rainbows; I love the fact that our unit is growing bigger every meeting! 

12.30pm – Walked to the bus station to catch the bus to gymnastics. I ate lunch on the bus – a tuna baguette, apple and crisps. £1.70 for the bus. 

1pm-5.30pm – Gymnastics coaching: I coach school-aged gymnastics for four to 12-year-olds. I love it. I really enjoyed doing gymnastics myself when I was younger and love seeing the realisation on children’s faces when they manage to gain a skill they thought they couldn’t.  

5.30pm – Walked home. 

6pm-10pm – Saturday TV night at home. I do not study on a Saturday night as it is my break for the week. I ate pizza, drank milkshake and had a well-deserved rest! The pizza was from the freezer, but only cost me £2.80 for a pack of two. The milkshake, which I bought on the way back from gymnastics, was on offer for 89p. 

11pm – Bedtime. 

Total cost for the day: £2.59 

Total weekly cost: £83.49  

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