...and still have a great time.
Having been a student in London for a while now, and knowing how completely clueless I was when I first started, I thought I'd share my tips and tricks with you all. When you first move here especially, it can be really difficult, and you will feel like everything costs twice what it does 'back home', wherever that may be. I guess these tips aren't exclusive to London, but this is what I have the most experience of!
One of the biggest misconceptions about students in London is that we all come here because we have loads of money. Our parents are paying our rent and we won't ever have to work. You know, we might not even have a student loan.
I have worked constantly from the week that I moved to London. My student loan has just about covered my rent and anything more than that I've been paying for myself. It's hard but I wouldn't change it for the world, it's the only place I'd want to be and if you look for them, there are probably more inexpensive opportunities here than anywhere else, too. One of the benefits of being in the capital is that you can google 'free x in London' for just about anything, which I'm pretty sure you can't do in every city. There are so many articles written about this place that there does seem to be an endless supply of options, which is great fun, if a little overwhelming.
These are the things which have got me through - the things I'd recommend:
- Have a loyalty card for everywhere you ever go. Literally, everywhere. Those free coffees will come in handy, I promise you.
- Make use of the free museums. There are so many places where you can go and broaden your knowledge of just about anything. You don't even have to remember anything if you don't want to - just going to admire the history and the art is absolutely acceptable, and relaxing, at that.
- Don't ever pay full price for a Theatre Ticket. I'm sure this applies to forms of entertainment in which I am far less well versed - but theatre's my jam, we know this. You know those ticket prices you see on the official websites? Well, the official companies also give several other companies permission to sell their tickets, at a much lower price. They are 1000% legit, and I've recommended the ones I use most here.
- Budget. I know it's obvious, and I know you're putting it off, but just do it. You're probably spending more than you think on certain things and more to the point that's probably okay, as long as you know what you're spending.
- Plan Meals and use your freezer. Make meals which contain similar ingredients on consecutive days so that you aren't wasting food and so that each individual food shop costs less. Making meals in bulk and freezing them is also a very cost effective option.
- Go to the supermarket at the end of the day. There are often greatly reduced products which you can put straight in the freezer.
- Buy what's on offer. At the risk of sounding like your Dad, realistically, your hair probably doesn't know the difference between two types of shampoo. Sure, there might be one or two which you really hate, but beyond that, just buy what's on offer - they're essentially all made of the same thing.
- Use your library and university services. Printing is always cheaper at the library than buying your own printer. Borrowing books is cheaper than buying them. Get out of the habit of thinking that owning is always better, and save some ££.
- Walk, or cycle if you're safe. Not only will you wake your brain up, you'll save loads of money. The odd bus journey here and there adds up, and it's so much worse in London where you don't have to actually get the money out of your pocket to use it. I don't cycle because I would die, spacial awareness isn't something that God gave me, but if you did - I imagine you wouldn't even need the next tip...
- Join your university's Gym. Depending on where you go, it might not be the most well equipped or biggest gym in the area, but I can guarantee it will be considerably cheaper than your closest alternative.
- Have a hobby which is relatively inexpensive. Having a hobby outside of your studies is so important - people will tell you this time and time again but I can not emphasise it enough. Blogging is the thing I enjoy doing most in my free time, apart from the obvious seeing friends and taking photos. It only requires my laptop, that's it. I own it anyway, because I'd have to have one for university, and when I started I didn't spend any money on blogging at all. Nowadays I spend bits on scheduling tools and creating photographs but I only embarked on this when my I made a serious decision to commit to improving my blog, and when I could absolutely afford it. Whatever your hobby is - make sure you budget for what it actually costs.
What are your tips for surviving as a student? Have you found any gems, in London or elsewhere?