Managing finances is something most people don’t enjoy doing. It’s one of the many things that screams “Welcome to the adult life from which you can’t ever go back!!” Adulting might sound like fun and games if you’ve never really experienced it, but as soon as you start living on your own as a student in London, you realise it’s not so fun anymore. And the credit for making you realise that adulthood’s not all it’s hyped up to be goes to: Money.
Everything requires money. Imagine your bank account as a leaky bucket. Every day, a steady stream of water flows out of it. Every now and then, a tap might open up and fill it. Now, as long as the amount of water in the bucket is enough at any given point of time, you’re golden. The trick is to constantly maintain that level of water. It can be quite difficult to accomplish, but it’s not impossible. So, find out how you can manage your expenses as a student in London.
1. Create a budget
Learning how to budget and setting financial goals as a student is important. The idea of mapping out a budget may seem overwhelming at first. Who has the energy to sit down and plan out the finer points of their financial situation after a long day of classes, exams, and other obligations? But it can actually be fairly easy to do. You could use an app like Monzo, where you can create different expense categories (grocery, travel, eating out, etc.), and allocate money to these categories.
Also, try and stick to these budgets as much as possible–it’s no good creating a budget if you’re not going to stick to it.
2. Watch the groceries
Grocery shopping can be a bit of a bore, but it’s also where you could potentially spend an exorbitant amount of money. You could plan on living off of pizzas and McDonald’s, but that’s neither healthy nor cost-effective in the long run.
As a student in London, you could have your pick of grocery stores. But, you might want to avoid the expensive ones like Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, although they might be convenient. Instead, try stores like Lidl or Asda that have great produce for ridiculously low prices. It’s also worth it to check out some of the local markets for fresher produce for lower prices. Oh and here’s a tip—never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach; it stops you making impulsive purchases.
3. Student Discounts
London is expensive—there’s no denying that. But, London also offers heaps of student discount. So, as a student in London, take advantage of student discounts wherever you can find them. Sign up for a NUS card, on UNiDAYS or on StudentBeans to be eligible for student discounts in stores such as Nike and Urban Outfitters. Signing up on these sites can also get you discounts at multiple restaurants across London—just ask for it when you pay your bill!
Walking around London, there’s no way you can avoid looking at high-end department stores. Mostly, we just resign ourselves to window shopping, but if you feel like treating yourself, then shopping at these stores can blow a hole in your expenses. So, check out some of London’s incredible vintage stores such as Beyond Retro, East End Thrift Store, London Designer Outlet and ICON Outlet at The O2, to keep your shopping costs to a minimum.
Alternatively, you can try installing apps like Depop to find plenty of cheap clothes for very little money. You can even sell old clothes that you don’t wear anymore for some extra cash.
Travelling in London’s tubes seems so exciting—until you actually have to travel everyday. Why not take this opportunity to travel on London’s iconic red buses? They’re cheaper than the tube, and after an initial cost of £1.55, any buses you take for the next hour will be free. Not to mention you’d be able to see London’s landmarks pass you by everyday.
If you travel a lot, then it might not be a bad idea to invest in a Student Oyster card. With a 30% student discount on travel passes, it might just be more cost-efficient than using the pay-as-you-go system. Living in the capital might not be as difficult as you might think. Just take care of your spending habits, and try to have a good time. For more tips and tricks, check out this article on how to live on a student budget in London.