Studying in London certainly has its benefits: from gorgeous views and delicious food to amazing tourist attractions and a wide range of cultures and traditions to experience. While the positives definitely outweigh the negatives, one of the biggest worries for both new and experienced Londoners is learning how to spend their money wisely, avoiding the often-hiked London prices. To help keep you on track, we’ve written some helpful tips and tricks for you that students swear by to make their money go further.
1. Plan Ahead
The best way to get the most bang for your buck is to create a budget. Knowing how much money you have coming in from your student loan, grants or wages means you’ll know how much you have to spend on rent, food, bills and more - rather than just guessing. This is also a great way to start putting money aside early on for potential surprise charges, or even for an end of year holiday to treat yourself! One of the easiest ways to do this is using a budget calculator like this one by Save the Student, or this one by This is Money. There are also lots of money management apps available, where you can assign different amounts of money per month to different ‘pots’ like food, rent, shopping and going out – which make keeping track of your spending even easier!
2. Dazzling Discounts
Over the next few years, student discounts will become your best friend. Most of the time when you’re out and about, flashing your student ID card before paying is enough to receive a decent discount or some perks in places like cinemas, restaurants and shops. You can also get some great deals by signing up to student discount apps like Unidays and Student Beans to save on clothes, food and more! Finally, you can invest in a TOTUM student card, which offers a variety of exclusive offers and sales from well-known brands, as well as blogs and newsletters with tips and advice for students. You can also use a TOTUM card to get discount in our venues.
Top tip: using loyalty cards at your favourite stores and places to eat and drink can also keep the pennies in check!
3. Supermarkets, Food and Drink
Not all supermarkets are created equal – for affordable food that is. Though you may like their hilarious essentials and free hot drinks, high-end supermarkets aren’t the most affordable places when it comes to doing your weekly food shopping. Explore different supermarkets and greengrocers in your area to see which ones offer the best value for money, and always write a shopping list to dodge impulsive buys. Writing a weekly meal plan can also be a fun and cost-effective weekend activity and only takes half an hour to an hour tops to get the food prepped and packed away for the week! This will also limit the money you spend on eating out, which can often make a significant dent in your finances.
Top tip: Shopping at smaller ‘express’ and ‘local’ stores from supermarket chains will often mean that prices are not as low as they could be. Doing your weekly food shop at your local full-scale supermarket will save you those extra pennies!
4. Be Careful with Overdrafts and Loans
Having access to extra money may seem like a godsend, but it’s important to be careful when signing up for a new bank account overdraft or applying for a student loan as it can quickly turn into a slippery slope. Make sure you do your research and understand what you’re getting yourself into, and if you can, speak to family and friends or get some information from the King’s Money Advice team. If something sounds too good to be true – it probably is!
5. Part-time/Freelance Jobs
Having a part-time or freelance job (if you don’t already) while at uni can help with your monthly bills and save a little bit extra to treat yourself. KCLSU offers many student jobs through the year, from marketing roles to jobs in our bars and cafes with flexible working hours to fit your study schedule and a London Living Wage. You can also find part-time vacancies around whether in retail or the food & drink industries, or even tutoring part time. Not everyone can have a part-time job due to visa restrictions or schedule conflicts, so if you are able to take on a job do consider your work-life balance. If in doubt, try to volunteer for one-off positions over the weekend to see how manageable studying and working part-time might be for you.
6. Student Events
Student events have that name for a reason – the price usually matches the title, with the event and its menu catered to a student-friendly budget. You shouldn’t have to restrict yourself when it comes to having fun and spending some quality time with your uni friends; this is a cheaper option that lets you get to know new people while saving money. You can check out all the student events happening in our venues here.
Top tip: Many cinemas, museums and galleries also have student and young people passes, which are often free to sign up for and give you discounted or free tickets to exhibitions and screenings.