13 Ways to Save Money While Living in London

7:16:00 PM

I'm the daughter of two business owners (who were raised by depression-era parents)... aka... I'm frugal!  My first name is "Saving" and my middle name is "Investing."  I'm also pursuing a Finance concentration.  Before I came to the UK I was warned that it would completely swallow my wallet.  I took this on as a challenge.  And 12 weeks later, I can say, that I have totally won.  In fact, living in London for a semester has cost me LESS than living in the US for a semester!  How did I manage this?  Here are a few secrets:

1. RESEARCH your housing options.  I saved 1200 GBP or $1,920 by not taking the housing that the school offered.  And, no, I was not homeless.  
2.  Stretch the continental breakfast. This housing option (a hotel) ACTUALLY provided us with a continental breakfast 7 days/week (see picture)!  It had a full cereal bar (which included Frosted Flakes!), muffins, croissants, bagels, toast, apples, oranges, bananas, AND yogurt allowed you to fill up for the day... and pack your lunch from home.  Shhhh ;)  We easily saved over $10/day.   
3. Be your own barista.  My housing has a FREE tea/coffee/hot chocolate/mochas/cappuchino machine available 24/7.  Did you know that an average Starbucks drink here is about $6-7 (US dollars)?
4. Bat your lashes at the local dry cleaners.  This, ladies and gents, is how you get free hangers.  When you're living [temporarily] in a city, and you don't want to buy a bunch of hangers (that you'll just leave behind), the local dry cleaners are usually more than willing to give you a handful of hangers.  
5. Keep your own tab!  Writing down your expenses every day really DOES make a difference.  Somehow, I even went 13 days without spending 1p!  How is that possible?  Keep reading.  
6. Don't keep a real tab.  Alcohol is really one of the saddest ways to waste your money, especially when you can't remember where your money spent.   You might as well get pick-pocketed... or feed your money to the swans in St. James Park.    
7. Walk your butt off-- literally!  I live 1.5 miles from my main campus and 2.5 miles from other academic buildings.  By walking to/from class I save $8/day in transportation costs.  AND after walking 4-6 miles every day I don't have to pay for a gym membership!  Plus, it's a great chance to get some sunshine, take photos, and see all that London has to offer!  (Alright, stop staring at Kim's butt.  I know you were.)
8. Make your own exfoliant.  Instead of buying $10 exfoliating gels from The Body Shop, I simply washed my hands with a packet of sugar 1x a week.  Simple, free, and very effective.
9. Hand wash your clothes.  I probably sound a bit Amish, right?  Well, instead of spending the equivalence of $6.00 to wash/dry a SINGLE load of laundry, I spent $2.00 on a box of hand-washing laundry detergent in the beginning of the semester.  This easily saved me $100.   Best part-- my clothing didn't get damaged by a sketchy washing machine.  
10. Bottle your thirst.  After walking several miles around a new city, sometimes you need a little hydration.  And usually, I don't feel like spending $2 on a old can of Diet Coke from an overpriced hole-in the wall off-license store.  A water bottle is the perfect solution.
11. BYOB (bath and beauty products!) Before I came to London I brought with me enough conditioner, shampoo, hair products, soaps, toothpaste, and beauty products to last me until the end of the semester.  Since my products cost more than double in the UK this was a great money-saver.
12. Step on the scale.  Weigh your suitcase before you head for the airport.   If you are over by even 1 pound airlines can charge you upwards of $80.  Biggest. Rip-off.  Ever. 
13. 1 Pack a Week.  I'm talking about gum, people.  NOT cigarettes.  I'm one of those girls who could chew through 1 pack of gum in 1 day when school is stressful.  I'm convinced that it clears my mind.  Well, when my gum of choice-- Orbit-- costs $3.00 for a pack, I think again.  Just like my ancestors, I stuck to my weekly rations. 

On that note, comment below with YOUR $$ saving tips!

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