University can be a big change, from moving away from home, potentially to a different country, to making new friends. It’s also likely the first time you’ll have to manage your own money. It can be difficult at first, but above all else, always remember that being a student in London is the cheapest time to live here – All we need to do is hunt down all the discounts and take advantage of all of them!
Here at King’s, we actually have a service, called Money Mentors which exists to help you with all things related to personal finance. These mentors offer really practical skills in learning how to budget, including online resources to help you understand where you’ve been spending your money. Take a look at some of their resources to help you get started.
Aside from rent, for most people, the two things we spend the most money on are usually food and transport. So, we have decided to focus our tips on these to save you the most money!
I use a 16-25 railcard, without a student oyster. I found that the 1/3 off off-peak tube time discount (offered when you connect your railcard to your oyster) is more useful for me compared to a 1/3 off monthly travel card (offered when you have a student card). I tend to walk around everywhere and only take the tube when I don’t have time. Make sure you understand the distances you’ll be travelling, and take advantage of which discount which will be most effective! Take at the Money Mentors cheat sheet for more information!
I prefer the monthly oyster travel card. This allows an unlimited number of journeys on both tube and bus. However, this may not be necessary if you live walking distance from uni.
I cycle everywhere which I love as it saves money and is free exercise! However, it is not for everyone. If do you wanted to consider cycling King’s has put together loads of useful information.
- Using price comparison websites like mysupermarket, a site which collates all data on the sales going on for that day. You are able to compare across 15 supermarkets, making sure you’re getting the best price.
- Buy things that you use often or things that have a long shelf life in big packets (e.g. 1kg bags of rice and pasta) as these are cheaper than buying the smaller packets and chances are you will use it all up eventually anyway. Plus if you have staple foods like this in your cupboard you will always have something you can quickly make.
- Make a weekly meal plan. This will make shopping easier, as you limit yourself to the necessary items to fulfil the plan, and also meal-prep a lot simpler, pushing you to take food to uni and avoid having to buy meal-deals every day.
- When cooking, make food “in bulk”. Instead of making enough curry for one night, make enough for 4 people and then put 3 portions in tupperware, and use them for lunch during the next days or freeze them for the week after.
Budgeting and knowing when to spend money can be scary, but with all the resources on hand, it’s now easier than any other time. Make sure you use all the resources King’s has on offer, and take advantage of all the discounts London has to offer!
Our final tip would be to make sure you record how much money you’ve been spending, just to make sure you’re sticking with your budget and seeing whether it needs adjustment. Make sure you keep all your receipts and just calculate a total one day while watching a show. It does seem tedious but will help you adjust your budget accordingly to what you need.
Until next time!
Val, Liv and Pauline