How to stretch your money at uni

Piles of coins being inserted into a ceramic piggy bank.

Studying in London has many perks, from its gorgeous views and delicious food to amazing tourist sights and a wide range of cultures and traditions to experience. While the positives definitely outweigh the negatives, one of the biggest worries for new and experienced Londoners is learning how to spend their money wisely and avoid the scary “London prices”. To help keep you on track, we’ve written some helpful tips and tricks for you that students swear by.

1. Be careful with overdrafts, student bank accounts 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!

2. Discounts, discounts, and more discounts!

One of the most popular and effective ways to save money as a student is to, well, be a student! Many places will give you a decent discount if you flash your student ID card before paying, including cinemas, restaurants and shops. To get an even bigger deal, you can also 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. Using loyalty cards at your favourite stores and places to eat and drink can also keep the pennies in check.

3. Plan ahead:

Budget, budget, budget! Creating a budget may feel like a time-consuming task, but it will be the saving grace of your bank account and funds. Budgeting allows you to split your incoming student loan and grant or wages into key areas such as rent, bills, food, shop and travel to avoid any surprise charges on your bank statement. There are lots of handy budget calculators online to help you with organising your spending, like this one by  Save the Student or this comprehensive one by This is Money. There are also lots of helpful money management apps available, just be sure to read the reviews first.

4. Compare food prices in your local supermarkets:

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!

5. Get a part-time or freelance job if you can:

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. It’s also easy to find part-time vacancies around whether in retail or the food & drink industries. Not everyone can have a part-time job due to like 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. Going to free and student-focused 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. 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 – you can also use your student pass to attend host events catered especially for students in London.