How I Save Money While Living In London

Life is expensive and it gets even pricier when it's an urban life. Comparing my life back in Loughborough - a quaint town in the Midlands - to London, there's a dramatic difference. I'm also not making bank while living here; I'm an intern who's still on probation so to survive living in the city, I have had to make money stretch a little further than I normally would.

There have been a few compromises in comfort but I'm not going to bed hungry nor do I feel deprived. Despite the prices in London being hiked up in comparison, it has not been a struggle surviving here so long as you're not living a luxurious life you can't afford. So today, I thought it'd be fun for me to share my tips and tricks on what I've been doing to save money in London!

Start budgeting
And make it fun! When budgeting turns into a hobby you can look forward to, it makes it easier to keep track of your purchases. During university, I had a bullet journal where I would keep track of all my daily spends and incomes. I made it pretty and included a to do list as well as a summary of how my day went. This meant it was no longer a chore but a stable piece to my routine. Plus, I enjoyed flipping through the pages and looking at how much money I've saved and all the pretty doodles!

I now do all my budgeting on an excel spreadsheet. This is mostly due to the desk at my flat being tiny and fidgety and it's so low that my neck and back start hurting after ten minutes. I still enjoy doing my budgeting even though it's no longer in a pretty notebook. Electronically or physically, you can't run away from your impulsive buys when you have to log it in every day!

source: bujoella
Make my own lunches and coffee
It's easy to fall into the trap of getting a coffee to go at the station and buying a £3 meal deal for lunch once you're working and set in a routine. Those add up a lot! Going to a nice cafe for a coffee is still a guilty pleasure which I do treat myself to very occasionally. However, it is most definitely not something I do every day.

Coffee, milk, and sugar are supplied at work so my brew is always free. Initially, I bought sandwiches from the local Sainsbury's (which is across the road from our office) but after looking through my budgeting spreadsheet I didn't like how I was spending around £12 a week on lunch. It's not the healthiest option but - seeing as I eat it every day anyway - I take a pack of my favourite ramen and cook it in the microwave for lunch. Sometimes, I'll bring in rice or pasta which fills me up more but this depends on how much motivation I have to make these the night prior. 

Unapologetically saying no to plans
I think it's important to do things with friends and enjoy yourself, but it can be so expensive! This point has not been hard to keep up with as I haven't exactly made good friends in London yet, but I have had instances where friends are nearby and want me to drop by. I realised that I did not want to spend the money on transportation getting there (as I would have to get several buses and tubes for a round trip), and whilst I am out they'll most likely want to go for lunch and a coffee.

It's a good reason, too. Not an excuse. I know I wouldn't have fun if I was mentally check-listing all the pennies I was saying goodbye to. We're all adults now, we're not being peer pressured to do things we don't want to do so don't be afraid to turn down a plan or two.

Use my legs whenever I can
I live - according to google maps - 1.7 miles away from work. If I'm in a rush, I can get there in 30 minutes. If I take my time, it takes about 37 minutes (I time these things just to see when is the latest I can leave the house). There's a bus outside my flat which takes me right to work but a one-way ride is £1.50. If I made a round trip every day for work, this would add up to £15 a week!

I sit on a desk for 8 hours, five days a week so walking is the only form of exercise I get and it helps me add up the little monies. I usually invest the money I save into groceries (get that cheeky chocolate bar in).

 Source: City Cookie
Not living above my means
When I first told people I was moving away to London to start my placement year with very little money on me, most of the reactions were, "How are you going to survive?" Listen, London can be pricey but it's not that bad.

I've learned that when people say that, they tend to think of bars, restaurants, and going out and doing stuff. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. And just because I'm in London doesn't I change the way I've been living; I'm not staying in a nice flat, I still buy my groceries from Tesco, I walk everywhere I go (and buses are actually cheaper here), and I don't go out every other weekend. I don't have shopping sprees in Regent Street or eat out at Lobster and Burger on my day off.

Just because you're in a big city doesn't mean all the prices will be hiked up. I've been guilty of living above my means back at university before where I was splashing on shoes and eating out every week when I was deep in my overdraft. It's imperative to recognise what's important and keep your eyes on your long term goal rather than what's around the immidiate corner.

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