Welcome to London – Budget tips for new students

Student finance expert Vivi, founder of Blackbullion, shares her top budgeting tips for new students starting at a university in London this September.

The romance, the history and the future of London are now at your feet. One of the best cities of the world has just become your home. Congratulations! Going to university is one of the great experiences of your life and going to university in one of the greatest cities in the world is like hitting the jackpot.

So how can you make the most of it? Squeeze every benefit, every moment of joy?
Well this is where we are just like everyone else in the world. The answer is money. London is not a cheap place but that hasn’t stopped millions of students from having a life altering, career enhancing, Instagram-worthy, awesome experience.

Budgeting tips for new students

Understanding and keeping track of what’s coming in, what’s going out and how you can make sure you don’t run out of money is key. So here are some top tips to manage your budget.

Make your money count

You can buy 5 cups of takeaway coffee or go on the London Eye. Get a sandwich every day from a fast food place or enjoy a return trip and day out at the sea in Brighton. Think carefully how you spend your money to get the biggest bang for your … um… pound!

Hack: Get a pre-paid credit card – Monzo and Revolut offer pre-paid cards and Loot is a digital current account especially for students.

Fun doesn’t have to be expensive

There are so many free or cheap ways of getting the best out of this wonderful city. Did you know many museums are free, or that there is a free daily newspaper and countless free magazines given out each day? You can soak in all things Harry Potter, Shakespeare or Sherlock Holmes just by walking around the streets of London. Street markets are also everywhere with free and cheap eats and there are more parks and open spaces than you can throw a stick at.

Hack: Pick up a free Time Out magazine at any tube station on a Wednesday to find out what’s going on in London.

Go to independent shops

If you do want a coffee or a quick meal, skip the chains and go independent. The food is fresher, the coffee better and big tables are the best way to strike up a conversation with a stranger. We may not make eye contact on the tube but while sipping a flat white at a shared table it’s practically the law.

Hack: Check out the London Coffee Guide and the Visit London Guide for things to do in London.

Transport in London

If there is one thing everyone in this town whines about it is transport. Yes, it’s busy and pricey but let’s remember it was built when London was small. Today almost 5 million people use the underground every single day! So we’ll forgive her for her sins – she’s an old lady (154 years old!) carrying a very heavy burden.

Be aware there are peak times between 06:30 and 09:29 and from 16:00 to 18:59 Monday to Friday. All other times tickets are cheaper so if you can, use transport ‘off peak’.

Hack: Hop on your bike! Get on one of the many hire bikes dotted around the capital.

Make friends (not a budgeting tip, but very important nonetheless!)

Life is better shared. Friends will see you through thick and thin and help you navigate exams, first loves, late night parties and everything in between. They also force you to try out new things and different foods, and together you will do crazy things that will become wonderful memories.

New friends are everywhere. Look out for them during your weekly exercise classes or think like an entrepreneur and get into the London start-up scene – it’s a bit like university, with lots of inspiring people sharing great ideas, and even the occasional free beer.

Hack: check out Meetup and find a group that suits you – from kitten loving chess players to clubbers, there’s something for everyone.

And before you go off to enjoy all London has to offer download our free money guide to help you navigate all things money! Welcome – you’re going to love it!

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