So often I see discounts and offers targeting students, whether in the shops or for entry fees and tickets. Oh, the poor students! That’s the usual cry, and I am by no means saying it’s a complete lie. Nonetheless, it’s a simplistic view, and one that doesn’t reflect my own experiences.
During my student days, and into my early twenties, I lived at home. My student loan covered my tuition fees and the commute to and from lectures. I also had a part-time job. I did pay my parents a small stipend for my keep, but essentially any money I made was mine, to do with as I pleased. If I wanted to buy a book or see a show, I could do so without a moment’s hesitation. I was, for the most part, flush.
Flash forward ten years. As I moved from my twenties into my thirties I was paying off the cost of a wedding and saving for the deposit on a house. And now, in my mid-thirties, there are fortnightly mortgage repayments, grocery costs, utilities bills, and all the other expenses that come from running a car and owning a property. Financial obligations abound, and my disposable income after dealing with all of that each month is miniscule. I have to weigh up each book purchase or movie ticket, and when I see a discount scheme promoted, I experience momentary excitement, followed by heartache.
They all cut out at thirty, you see. During my late teens and early twenties, when I had plenty of cash in my pockets, everyone threw discounts and vouchers my way. Now, in my thirties, when I am counting every penny, I have to pay full price across the board, with no substantial discounts in sight until I become an OAP.
I’m not suggesting there are no poor students. However, it is erroneous to assume all students are poor and, equally, that as soon as we hit thirty we are suddenly wealthy.
This is particularly hard for someone like me who loves attending the cinema and theatre, and who enjoys reading and other cultural pursuits. Ticket prices keep going up and up, especially for live entertainment, but my spending money remains low. I used to attend the theatre every month, sometimes multiple times. Nowadays I’m lucky to take in three performances a year.
I’d love to see more discounts offered that don’t discriminate against those of us heading into our middle years. I’m not calling for an end to student discounts—by all means, have them—but what about the occasional special offer for those of us in the 30-60 age bracket?
I, for one, would support the arts more if only it were within my means to do so. With audience numbers on the decline, a small discount here and there would generate better revenue overall, as more people would be able to afford to attend.
Were you a poor student? Or were you, like me, better off in your earlier twenties than in your thirties? What are your thoughts on making discounts less age-restricted?