We all know University is a huge change in lots of ways, and one of the scariest can be the thought of managing your own money. It can seem daunting, but above all else, always remember that being a student in London is the cheapest time to live here, and after a month of getting used to it, you’ll be a super-saver when it comes to expenses.
Now, King’s doesn’t want you to feel like you’re alone in this, and there’s a fantastic 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 :).
SAVING TIPS & TRICKS
One of my favourite ways to save is taking the bus as my preferred mode of transport, rather than the train or tube as it’s only £1.50. It may take slightly longer to get to where I’m going, so I use the extra time to do some extra reading while enjoying the sights. The London Hopper Fare allows you to make unlimited journeys for free within one hour of first touching in using pay as you go (contactless or Oyster) on the bus, or tram – as long as you use the same card! You can find out more on their website.
I use a 16-25 railcard, with a student oyster for London travelling. 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 within the zones you buy during that month. However, this may only be necessary if you’re travelling lots
I cycle everywhere which I love as it saves money and is free exercise! If do you want to consider cycling King’s has put together loads of useful information. London also has some brilliant cycling initiatives and roadways throughout the city!
- 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 for the right item.
- 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 in a rush.
- 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, do batches wherever possible. 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. Time, hassle and money saved :).
- Watch out for ‘yellow sticker items’ at the end of the day/week in supermarkets. These are often items which are made fresh and can’t be kept on sale another day, so are drastically reduced! It’s a great opportunity to try something you might never buy otherwise too.
Budget living tips
- Student deals: NEVER leave the house without bringing student ID or your NUS card, as most shops, bars and restaurants have some sort of student discount! There are also useful apps like Unidays or Student Beans that you can download, which will show you the places that offer discounts, both in store and online.
- Nights in: Rather than going all out on lots of nights out, why not spend a fun night in with your flatmates or friends? You could have a chill movie night or games night and save a lot of money in the process, while having just as much (if not more) fun as on a night out! Cheap supermarket wine tastes a lot better than cheap bar wine too…
- Student nights out: If staying in isn’t your thing and you’ve had enough of the SU then there are plenty of bars and clubs that have specific student nights around the city offering super cheap drink deals and dancing ’till dawn. Just do a little bit of research on the best happy hours in town!
- Part-time work: If you are looking to earn some extra money, you can also look at King’s Talent Bank. This lists all on-campus jobs available which are ideal because they offer great work opportunities that you can fit around your schedule. You can also apply to become a Student Ambassador which is really fun, flexible, and rewarding work that allows you to earn as well. In fact, Student Ambassadors are the ones who help run this blog and we have so much fun doing it! The bonus benefit to working an on-campus job is you generally make the London living wage which is currently £10.20 compared to the National Minimum Wage of £7.05. Just remember to check how many hours your student visa allows you to work if applicable. Part-time work might not help you fund your tuition in its entirety, but it will definitely help with your living costs., and can result in some great references on your student record!
- Free stuff: Look out for free talks, shows and exhibitions, such as the KCL Science Gallery where there are amazing exhibitions exploring a combination of science and art. There’s also tonnes of free museums, galleries, parks and more around London to explore without spending a penny (other than your bus fare).
Budgeting and knowing when to spend money can be scary, but with all the resources on hand, it’s now easier than ever to track your spending. 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. There are hundreds of budgeting apps and tools out there to help with this, so have a look around and find the right one for you.