With the cost-of-living crisis and expensive prices across London, many people find it difficult to budget and use their money wisely. I will be discussing some of my experience with budgeting and how you can save your money.
When your student finance payment comes through, it can be tempting to be drawn into online sales and expensive nights out. You should first prioritise your expenses that are non-negotiable. This can be rent for student/private accommodation, bills, and any subscriptions such as Spotify or Netflix. It is important that these are paid first so that you can plan how to spend the rest of your money for the term.
Once these non-negotiables have been paid, look at how much you have left for the term and divide this up across the months or weeks. Some people find it helpful to keep a spreadsheet to track their finances, but for myself, I just took track mentally. Allocating an amount of money to each period of time that you know you cannot spend over ensures that you are keeping on top of your money and not over-spending.
Some weeks you may spend more than others, if you have gone on a lot of nights out, gone to a gig or indulged in some retail therapy, but do not let this dishearten you. Just recalculate what you have left and ensure that you have a sufficient amount for the rest of the term. When you go food shopping, keep in mind this student-friendly budget. Try to only buy what you need, and if possible, buy cheaper alternatives to products in the same stores you would usually shop in, or use your local Aldi or Lidl.
Keeping on track of your finances doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself or that you should stop yourself from doing things because of your weekly budget, it just means that you’re more financially conscious and aware of your spending habits. This can allow you to make changes (if necessary) and make sure you’re not falling into an overdraft. Although overdrafts can be useful in times of financial hardship, you need to remember that it is not free money; you will have to pay this back and it will mean that you have even less to spend next term.
If you’re finding the expensive prices of London a burden on your finances, it is always possible to get a part-time job alongside your studies. In the first year, I wanted a bit more financial freedom so looked to getting a job. I ended up being employed at LSE as an Events Steward. This ended up being a great way to have flexible work while earning a bit of money, and still being able to focus on my studies.
Employment at LSE is a great way to become more integrated into the community and often pays better than external employers, so it’s a win-win. Working in bars, restaurants, or shops can be a good option, but be aware that employers may not be as flexible with your time as a student and will not be able to work around your schedule – particularly difficult around exams.
Overall, managing finances and budgeting while studying in London is difficult, but it is possible. Tracking your spending, planning your expenses and, if necessary, supplementing your income are all excellent ways to ensure that you can live comfortably while at LSE.