Saving Money While Studying in London

Tips to Save Money While Studying in london

·         Make a budget before you ever leave the USA. Know how much money you have to spend and make allotments. $__ for food, $__ for souvenirs and so on. Knowing how much you can spend and on what you can spend it will help with the urge to impulse buy while overseas. Also, go online and budget (translated into US dollars) how much all the activities you want to do cost. This way you can have a list of everything you want to do, how much it costs and then a cutoff point where you run out of money; below that cutoff point I put the things I would like to do if I can scrimp and save or if another activity doesn’t work out. I suggest filling out this budget in an app of some sort so you can update as you spend money and keep tabs on it. You know you will always have your phone and therefore also your budget.
Below was my budget before going to London

And My budget I kept while in London (mostly accurate but I certainly missed a few things)

·         Pay for as much as you can ahead of time. I bought all of my day trips before I ever left the USA. This way they were booked and paid for before I left and I could adjust my budget to relate this. I knew exactly how much they would cost and that helped me to know how much I could spend on other things. Also, when I was in London, I wasn’t worrying about the $150 day trip I was paying for because it was already done so I could enjoy it without the stress of money while there.

·         Think of everything in US dollars and download the translator app ASAP.  The conversion rates are always changing and you need to find out what it is as soon as possible and download a free app that will translate US dollars into UK pounds or Euro’s. When you begin to price out trips, activities, food, souvenirs, you can find out exactly what they will cost you in US dollars and this helps you to not overstretch your budget. Some of the girls I went with did not budget according to the exchange rate and halfway through our trip they were calling their parents for money.

·         Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. It adds up if you are charged a fee every time you use your card and carrying a wad of cash is not very safe. I got the Capital One Venture card and it worked great and I had no additional foreign transaction fees beyond the exchange rate difference. This is something to look into as soon as possible but I highly recommend it.

·         You do not really need an international phone plan. Everyone thinks they need international phone plans and to be able to text and call while there. I had no phone plan the whole time I was there, I simply used wifi. Wifi is EVERYWHERE over there so if you opt out of a phone plan, you can still communicate with people in the UK as well as those at home. If you truly want a plan, go for it but it is by no means a necessity and is a great place to save some $$.

·         Eat cheap. You’re not in London to eat like a king; your there to learn, research, travel and experience as much as you can. Eating cheap can save you a ton of money. I only ate “out” maybe 3-5 times throughout my whole London trip and yet I was never hungry. I packed PB & J sandwiches, a water bottle and chips when I knew I would be out all day. We stopped at the local Tesco grocery on the way home most days and picked up some simple pasta and sauce and a loaf and bread and had a lovely and filling dinner for a cheap cost. Breakfast was bagels and cereal. Buying groceries and eating in the apartment saved me a ton of money. I ended up spending about $100 less on food than I originally budgeted. The grocery over there is much cheaper than you might expect. When looking for cheap meals out and about, Pret-A-Manger is a great one. Also try the little grocery stores for a small sandwich and maybe a fruit cup.

·         Find the free activities. London has SO many free things to do. All the government-run museums are free, many of the outdoor attractions are free, the parks are gorgeous… so many great things to do with your time and not break the bank. Take a little extra time and find things to do that won’t cost you a thing. Along with the free activities, some activities are as low as 3-4 pounds. You can fill your time in cost effective ways if you just do a little research.

·         Keep track of souvenirs purchased already. Similar to my running budget of my spending while there, I kept a running list in the same app of what I had bought for different people and for myself. This way I did not overbuy for anyone nor for myself. I also did not miss anyone because I made a list before going of who I was bringing souvenirs for and just filled in as I purchased. 

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