It’s no secret that balancing your bank balance during your time as a student is one of the toughest challenges, especially in London. With tuition fees running into the thousands, expensive housing costs and textbooks often costing over £100, it can be hard to know where to start with managing your money! It’s even harder when trying to eat healthily, socialise with new friends and make the most of living in London.
Using our top tips, you can make sure you start off the year successfully:
1. Write yourself a budget…and stick to it!
Once your student loan has arrived in your bank account, figure out how much money you expect to have for the term and then subtract the amount that you will be paying for housing and bills for the term.
Then work out how much you think you will need for your food shop and take that off too. Next take off any money you would like to put away and save, or that you need for other expenses such as travel, gym memberships, phone bills, textbooks and other monthly payments.
Budgets can be straightforward but for students with extra monetary responsibilities it can be difficult to keep on top of prioritising your pennies. If you would like some help with your budget, our trained advisers are here to help. You can receive budgeting advice by filling out a case form here.
2. Make the most of transport discounts
Living in London means we all rely on public transport to get us from a to b, and these small journeys do add up quickly. Luckily, there are some handy discounts available to students in London.
If you regularly travel by national rail, consider investing in a railcard. The 16-25 Railcard and 26-30 Railcard are the most popular for students and save you 1/3 on most journeys. At £30 a year, these railcards quickly pay for themselves if you are regularly travelling across and out of London by train.
Don’t worry if you aren’t within the age criteria for the travel cards, you can still apply for a railcard if studying full time as long as you meet the other criteria.
If you are aged 18 or over, and are living in a London borough, you can take full advantage of the student oyster card which means you can save 30% on TFL Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes!
3. Sign up for all the student discounts
As a student, you have a bunch of discounts that are now on offer to you.
TOTUM is the most popular student discount card and app. It gives you access to huge offers on food and essentials, tech, travel, fashion, beauty and a whole lot more. TOTUM cards start from just £14.99 for just one year (but you can get a card for far longer!).
UNIDAYS is a free app which offers hundreds of discounts from 6 months free amazon prime to half price subscription food services, discount on tech and loads of clothing stores. Its not one to miss out on!
Music lovers will be pleased to hear that students are eligible for 50% off of a Spotify subscription while studying.
Students are often also eligible for discounts in a number of cafes and restaurants around campus, just use your City ID badge and ask. Keep an eye out for some favourites!
4. Explore London on a budget
London is not famously known for its good value for money, but there are lots of activities you can do to fill your weekends and get to know the city you’re in for less (or for free!)
Most boroughs in London have some sort of weekly market, so you can stay local or venture to some of the more popular markets such as Camden Market, Portobello Road Market, Old Spitalfields Market and more. Markets are a great way to waste an afternoon browsing local arts and crafts stools while eating some seriously good local street food and getting to experience London’s cultural diversity first hand.
London is full of world-class museums and the good news for students is that most are free of charge. Museums are a great way to spend a rainy day (which we aren’t short of in London!)
Head down to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards which is an elaborate ceremony carried out when each shift of guards at the Palace changes over. It is completely free to watch and normally happens at 11:00am, but do check online before going as it doesn’t always happen every day.
See London from up high on the Emirates Air Line cable car as you travel from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. Tickets start from just £4 for an adult and are well worth the (small amount of) money.
Fancy making a journey across London a little more interesting? Take an Uber Boat and experience London from the water! Tickets start from £4.60 with lots of routes available. You could even sail part of your way to campus.
5. Reduce your waste
We all know that food shopping can be one of the hardest areas to budget, but we do have some recommendations for keeping food costs down.
Cook in bulk to save time and save waste. Cooking multiple portions at once means you can use up all of your ingredients to save on wasted food (good for the wallet and the environment!), and you can pop ready made portions in your fridge or freezer to save for a busy day. This can also help you stick to a healthy and nutritious diet and stay away from the takeaways when you are pushed for time.
Pack a lunch to take to the library with you to cut down on expensive snacks and meal deals, you could even use left-over portions from your meal the night before!
6. Don’t overspend on books
Starting a new course or new year at University can mean needing to purchase new textbooks, which can often cost hundreds of pounds. Before splashing out on a brand-new copy, consider checking the library for a copy of a textbook or searching for a second-hand copy on websites such as eBay or even charity shops or second-hand book shops which are local to campus.
Do bear in mind that library textbooks are often in high demand if they are mandatory for a subject, and might have restrictions on the amount of time they can be checked out for. If you do manage to find a good deal on a second-hand copy, just remember to double check that it is the correct version. You can always email your lecturer to double check if in doubt.
7. Don’t be fooled by quick loans and credit cards
Nowadays there are hundreds of companies who offer quick loans and credit cards, and it can be tempting to apply for one of these when finding yourself in a bind.
Although they can look good from the outset, quick loans often have high interest rates which are difficult to meet, and credit cards can easily cause debt if you aren’t able to pay off the monthly amount.
If you are struggling financially, there are schemes to help you while at University such as City’s Hardship Fund and the Students’ Unions Short Term Loan scheme.
We hope that with these tips you can start of the new academic year on the right footing financially, but we are here to help if things go wrong. If you would like to book an appointment for money advice with an SU Advisor, please fill out a case form here.
From your SU Advice Team