London is an incredible city. You know it, I know it, and the millions of students that flock to the capital most certainly know it, too. With its vibrant nightlife, multiculturalism, endless selection of local craft beers and buzzing scene of just about any counterculture you could think of, it’s hardly surprising that so many young students choose it as their home. Sounds perfect, but what’s the catch? Indeed, life in London isn’t all rainbows and cupcakes (although we get plenty of both). The biggest drawback is the insane cost of… just about everything. And, considering you’re likely to be broke af as a student anyway, shelling out crazy money just to get by can be a bit depressing. But don’t despair and give up just yet – these life (and cash) saving hacks will help reduce your living costs while making sure you stay afloat without missing out on the fun.
Shackle up with a couple. I’m not talking about third-wheeling here. But sharing a home with a couple of couples (zing!) can greatly reduce your cost of bills and rent. It’s probably a good idea to choose a couple that’s lived together before, lest you find yourself in the middle of some seriously awkward Rachael and Ross vibes. And if your math skills aren’t stellar and you need help splitting and paying your bills on time, check out the handy app called acasa – it helps automate payments and sends your flatmates reminders about when they’re due so you don’t have to.
Stop buying things you don’t need. After a grueling property search and squabbles with estate agents, you’ve finally found your dream (ish) rental home and are all set to move in (yay!). At this point, it may be tempting to blow your entire student loan on pretty vintage trinkets and gadgets from Amazon. But do you really, really need all this stuff? The more possessions you own, the more difficult, and expensive, it will be for you to move home in the future. Plus, a minimal lifestyle is not only good on your wallet, but also good for the environment. If you find yourself in genuine need of something, consider checking out Rentuu - an online platform for Londoners that lets you hire everything from tents to projectors and air mattresses. Once you get into the habit of renting things out when you actually need to use them, you’ll realise that you don’t need to own as much as you think.
Plan your meals. Sure, the occasional takeaway here and there does no real harm. But if you’re a serial diner-outer (that’s not a word, but I’m making it one), you’ll find yourself digging the kitchen cupboards for that long-forgotten can of baked beans. Cooking at home needn’t be a chore – have your friends over with some wine and make an evening out it. Meal planning helps a lot, too, and ensures you’re only buying food you’ll actually consume. Finally, there’s loads of awesome books for healthy cooking on a budget – I particularly like this nifty little book by Jack Monroe – it’s packed with nutritious recipes that won’t break the bank.
When you shop, shop smart. If you do need to go out and go shopping, be smart about how you do it. For starters, it’s wise to make the most of your student discount – check out all the stores that take part in the scheme over at the NUS website - ‘cos trust me, you’ll miss it when it’s gone. You should also download Pouch, a super handy extension that helps you source the web for a wide range of discounts, offers and sales.
Explore various income streams. The best way to reduce your spending is to, well, reduce your spending. But you should also consider boosting your income. There’s a whole range of ways to go about this – from capitalizing on your existing skills, like tutoring English or Maths, or taking surveys online for little bits of cash. You can also get creative and start your own blog, or try your hand at establishing yourself as an Instagram influencer. The more integrated your income streams are with your student lifestyle, the less likely you are to feel stressed out by work. And if you’re looking for more traditional side gigs, you should take a look at Side – a marketplace for short-term jobs.
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