Being a student in London and still having money!

A common thought that comes to mind when people hear the word “student” is being poor. Add that to being a student in LONDON and people assume there’s no hope for having any of the essentials like bread, soap or toothpaste – let alone luxuries. There’s no point me trying to say that budgeting alone will allow you to have daily Afternoon Tea’s at The Ritz; but some of my points may help get rid of that “I never have any money” feeling – which, let’s face it, all students get accustomed to at some point of their student life.

So you’ve just arrived at university, met your fellow peers and are ready to explore the great City (and of course – study). You have a nice chunk of money in the bank courtesy of Student Finance (or Bank of Savings) and are now thinking of what to do next. If you’ve come to the UK for the first time, and are not used to the great British weather, you may think investing in a nice new wardrobe consisting of winter coats, scarfs and a sturdy umbrella (along with a nice dress and  a handbag) may be the best option.

Or going to as many tourist attractions money can buy as this will help you live the great experience of being in London to the fullest.  Or do you not do anything with the money except pay rent, buy food and stare at your university books?

The answer is finding a balance between all the above (although, I would suggest a warm jumper or two if you’re not used to the cold weather)!

So the first thing to do is BUDGET! I know this is hard and it takes a lot of will power knowing your friends are on a night out and you’re saving that money to buy food for the week – but it’s something that needs to be done.

Start by creating an expenses sheet. Whether this is written on a napkin, or probably more advisable, within a spreadsheet on a computer, you will need to list all the money you receive and how much needs to go out i.e. rent, food, travel etc. Once you’ve done that, there will be this magical number showing you exactly how much you have to spend (woohoo!).

But what happens if that number isn’t magical? In fact – there is no number there at all!? Just a big minus?

This normally means that we’re spending more than we actually have. SO the real question is “how do I make more”?

For some, the answer is Bank of Mum and Dad. But for most of us, this isn’t an option and therefore the only answer is getting a part-time job. Obviously, depending on where you’ve come from to study in London, there may be a few restrictions as to how many hours you can work. It’s always advisable to find out before you apply if these restrictions apply to you. But for a majority of us, getting a part-time job is easy, especially in London, with so many shops and restaurants hiring throughout the year.

As well as making more money – there are ways to also make the money you already have stretch a little further. The absolute essential while living and studying in London is getting a Student Oyster card. This will help you save up to 30% off travel in the capital!

Also, getting a NUS card is a great step to take, as this can get you discounts on everything from food to shopping: including 10% off at Topshop/Topman all year around, a free McFlurry/chips/cheeseburger when buying a meal at McDonalds and discounted tickets at numerous cinemas.

London is a great city, with so much to offer. But you don’t have to pay to see everything. There are a number of ways to see all the attractions of London without spending everything you have.

Take a walk. This will allow you to see all the attractions, along with the little hidden gems, of London. REMEMBER: Most museums are free but get very busy on weekends. When booking West End shows, wait for off peak seasons (so not during school holidays), when shows are not that busy and tickets are much cheaper. However; if you’re under 24, you are eligible to purchase discounted theatre tickets (normally £5-£10). These are very popular and can only be purchased on the day of the show at the venue – so you will have to get up early!

These are just a few of my tips on saving money and ways of not spending more than you have while studying in London. It’s a combination of common sense and will power, but the important thing is to enjoy your experience. If you have any other tips, comment in the box below and lets all start saving together!