Living in London can be expensive, especially for a student. However, using a few of the tips and tricks outlined in this blog, you can still make the most of London on a budget.
How to budget weekly
Whilst, for some sticking to a budget is a walk in the park, for others (myself included), it can be very easy to go over the planned weekly budget. In order to help prevent this, one method that I have adopted is a technique which uses two bank accounts. One of my bank accounts is used for all my large planned bills and expenses such as rent, and the other is used for all other spending. If you do not already have two bank accounts, you can easily set up an additional online bank account such as Revolute or Monzo. At the beginning of each week, I transfer the sum of money that I have budgeted to spend on food, transport and fun activities to my second bank account. Consequently, as the money I spend weekly is limited the amount of money I have allocated to one of my bank accounts, I have managed to greatly reduce the frequency at which I go over budget.
How to reduce your food costs
For many students, spending on food can take up a significant proportion of one’s spending. However, it doesn’t have to break the bank. It goes without saying one of the easiest ways to save money on food is by shopping at some of the cheaper shops such as Lidl, Aldi and Asda. Additionally, the type of store you shop at also makes a difference to the cost of your shopping basket, with larger stores often being much cheaper than the “local” stores.
If you are looking for bargains, one trick is to shop in the late evenings. At this time, many of the items that are forecast to go out of date the next day (even though they are still perfectly usable) get discounted.
Another fundamental technique that I routinely follow is to meal prep weekly. By planning ahead and preparing my lunches for campus, I have managed to minimise the number of lunches I have to buy. As a result, I have been able to significantly reduce the amount of money that I spend on food.
There are also ways to save money on your drink spending. If you are one of those people who can’t go without your morning coffee, make sure to check out the Pret A Manger subscription. With Pret A Manger cafés being located all around London and close to campus, you will be able to make the most of your subscription, which enables you to get up to five drinks a day.
How to reduce your travel costs
London transport can be very expensive, especially if used daily on your commute to work. To minimise these costs, get an Oyster card which can be used to pay for your travel. If you link your Oyster card to your Railcard you will be able to significantly reduce the cost of travel by getting discounted prices.
Fun things to do on a budget
Whilst London on the whole is quite expensive, there are a surprising number of free or low cost things that you can do. For instance, many of London’s art galleries and museums are free.
London is also home to some of the best theatre shows nationally. Although, the selling price of these tickets tend to be quite expensive, there are ways to get around it. One way in which to a get discounted tickets is to turn up to the ticket office on the day of the show and ask if they have any discounted tickets that have not yet sold. Additionally, if you keep an eye out for sales, you will also be able to find some bargains.