Worried about affording things as a student? Or maybe you just want to know how to make your money go further. Here are some tips on how to budget as a student in London. Let us first begin by understanding that it’s important to budget as a student. There are a number of advantages to tracking and managing your money, even if it may feel a little tedious. Starting university might be the first time you’ve been in charge of your own finances. The chances of leading a more financially secure and free life in the future are stronger if you learn to budget as a student.
Tracking your expenses
One of the main things to understand is how important it is that you keep track of your money and spending habits. For that, you should try to set yourself a personal budget. It might take a few months to figure how what that budget should be, especially if you’re moving to a new place. Luckily, we live in a world there’s an app for everything, including how to budget and track your money. Here’s a helpful student budgeting planner from MoneySavingExpert.com to get you started.
Make the most of student discounts
Whilst living in London as a student can be expensive, it’s also one of the most student-friendly cities in the world. With your SOAS ID card or email address, you’ll be able to make use of the multiple student discounts in stores and online. A lot of cafes (especially near SOAS) offer student discounts if you show them your ID. Many subscription-based websites, including Amazon Prime, Spotify, etc. also have exclusive student prices. Be sure to look out for discounts and enjoy the small privileges that come with being a student. You can also sign up to get a TOTUM card for more discounts.
Search the shelves for reduced prices
A lot of the big supermarkets and grocery stores offer reduced pricing on certain food items. Instead of throwing food that’s due to expire, these items are given one last chance to be sold off at a reduced price. There’s no guarantee of what you might find in the reduced section, but if you’re lucky, there could be days when you stumble upon a treasure trove of goods. My advice would be to always look in the reduced section first when you go out to buy shopping or groceries.
Explore London for free
London has a number of free options to keep yourself entertained. For example, most of the museums and galleries in the city are free, and considering how big they are, you may want to make multiple visits to see everything in depth! There are also thousands of parks scattered across the city or you could even catch the mesmerising London skyline from one of the free rooftop viewing points. Check out Time Out London for a list of regularly updates things to see and do – some free!
We all love some retail therapy, and constantly upgrading our wardrobes. But as a student on a strict budget, this might be difficult to do. However, this is where thrift and charity shops come in. Thrifting allows you to find unique pieces from all sorts of different brands at a fraction of the original price. Just like with fast fashion brands, you can expect new stock on display every week or so, but unlike the former, this is a much more sustainable choice that doesn’t harm the environment as much.
Eating in vs. Eating out
If you want to save money, be in the habit of cooking your own food, rather than relying on take-out or eating out. You can get ingredients such as rice and pasta in bulk. These will keep you going for several weeks at a go. The other advantage of eating in is you’re more in control of what you eat, how you eat, and how much you eat. Another alternative is TooGoodToGo which is an app where you can pick up unsold food from cafes and shops at a discounted rate.
Remember to also check out SOAS resources on managing your money. If you need any further advice and support, you can email the Student Advice and Wellbeing team at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Surabhi Sanghi is a SOAS Digital Ambassador, pursuing a master’s degree in South Asian Studies and Intensive Language (which also means she gets to be in London for one whole extra year). She has a background in history and is interested in the religions of South Asia. She is a dog person and her only wish is to be able to pet all the dogs in London.