There are loads of ways to save money as a student and although we’re in London it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break the bank/your parents just to study here. Doing things on the cheap also doesn’t mean scrimping by with just enough nutrition to carry your self to and from lectures.
Having survived and thrived for two years already I’d like to share a few expert tips on how to get by and how to have fun on a student budget.
Let’s get the basics covered. Food. You need to eat. One of the first things I learned when I moved to London and started my weekly shopping for food was that it’s not always as simple as buying the cheapest possible item. You’ve got to look at quantity as well as quality. Buying the cheapest ‘price per 100g’ rather than the cheapest item will save you loads of money throughout the year, and probably make your weekly shop last a little bit longer.
Right, you know how to buy groceries and save. Next in the student diet for most is probably going to be alcohol. No, I don’t recommend buying the cheapest spirits and mixing it with discount lemonade before you go out, trust me you’ll regret it. I recommend drinking out where you can afford it. Finding where the student bars are, or places with discounted student nights and happy hours is not only is the height of local knowledge but also an excellent way to save money.
Now everyone enjoys a day out in the city, and with a city of this size with an incredible wealth of history and culture, it can be difficult to decide what you want to do. The galleries are an obvious must for when you first move here. They’re free all year round and you can literally spend days trying to see them all. It’s not all free though and sometimes you’ve got to fork out a little bit to enjoy the city, but you’ll soon find that they’re worth every penny. Looking regularly at websites such as Timeout will give you a whole range of ideas for where to go and information on what’s going on.
Now to make all of these days out you’re going to need to get around London quite a bit. We all have our different transport preferences depending on how far we travel on a regular basis and whether we like a bit of exercise or not, but everyone needs an oyster card! The TFL student oyster card offers a discount on all travel cards and can save you loads of money. You’ll need to register online as soon as possible and have your university approve it – don’t worry it’s a fairly straightforward process. Travel cards offer you unlimited travel within your specified travel zones. Most people only need the Zone 1-2 travel card, covering the massive central London area and most surrounding boroughs it’s probably all you’ll ever need. Now I like to cycle from A-B when I can, it can be a bit scary but if you’re confident on the roads you’ll find it’s one of the fastest and definitely the cheapest mode of transport around London.
It’s almost inevitable that your budget is going to squeeze you a little bit over your studies, the student life isn’t known for being glamorous, but it’s all part of the student experience and being a savvy saver where you can make all the difference.
By Kris Stapleton (Previous Camberwell Campus Residenct and Social Rep Alumni)