As everyone knows, London living costs can be eye wateringly expensive, and sometimes you can be left wondering how you are going to be able to enjoy the city and everything that it offers, without sliding down the slippery slope of credit card overuse.
After all, what’s the point in living in one of the most interesting (and expensive) cities in the world, if the cost of living means that you can’t go out and enjoy it?
Over the last couple of years, I have found myself in this situation and have luckily found a few ways to take the edge off, and save money where I can. If you’re finding yourself struggling a little this month, have a look at these tips to save money in London.
Save Money In London- Food
Groceries are usually one of the biggest expenses people face each month- so how can you reduce this and save some money? The trick to saving money in London is not to deprive yourself, but to spend your money more smartly.
So why not swap convenience stores for Lidl or Aldi instead? The convenience stores that we are all used to using regularly are priced accordingly- you could save so much money on groceries by switching to a cheaper supermarket.
Use a supermarket price comparison tool
Spending money on groceries is an unavoidable cost, but there is a way that you can find the best deals around to make sure that you are not overspending unnecessarily. Using a supermarket price comparison tool, like this one from Latest Deals UK, is a super easy way to check which supermarket is is selling your favourite items, at the best price.
Whilst you are out and about you can use the tool in the handy app to check that you are making the most of your money- no more wasting time traipsing around the different supermarkets- it’s a no brainer!
You’ll also want to track your savings in an easily accessible spreadsheet to keep your savings goals on track.
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Try batch cooking and meal planning
Another way to save money on food in London is to start batch cooking and meal planning. Meal planning is when you decide what you’re going to eat for the next 7 days- before you go food shopping. The idea being, that you have a set plan which will mean you are less likely to buy convenience foods, and less likely to waste food too.
Batch cooking is where you make large amounts of food, and then freeze portions for later. Popular dishes for batch cooking include chilli con carne, bolognese sauce, pasta sauce and curries. These meals also tend to use similar base ingredients meaning you’ll save time AND money.
If you switch to a lower-cost supermarket combined with batch cooking and meal planning, you will soon start to see a noticeable difference in the amount of money that you are saving.
Take a packed lunch
With a Pret on virtually every street corner in London, it can be easy to drop £6 every day on lunch during the week. Yes, it’s convenient, but damn, it’s expensive. Let’s say you spend £6 every weekday on lunch for a year- that would set you back a staggering £1,440 over 48 weeks (assuming you take 4 weeks holiday a year).
That is the cost of a beautiful holiday. A couple of city breaks. A Chloe handbag. If today, you make the decision to stop buying lunch every day for the rest of this year, you will be around £660 better off. Check out these meal ideas for busy families for some inspiration!
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Utilise deals when you dine out
It’s no fun if you put yourself on such a strict budget that you no longer eat out in order to save money in London. Instead, make sure you treat yourself when you can, and seek out the best deals to make sure you never pay over the odds to eat out in the city.
Save Money In London- Travel
Add your railcard to your oyster card
That’s right! You can get a third off your off-peak oyster card journeys with an 16-25 or 26-30 rail card.
I added my railcard to my oyster around a year ago and I have been saving money ever since. All you have to do is go and ask a staff member at any station and they will be happy to add the railcard onto your oyster for you.
Even if you don’t have an oyster card, a rail card is a fantastic investment, in just one return trip to London from Manchester you will make back the cost of the railcard- it’s a no brainer!
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Save Money In London- Home
Switch your utilities
Most of us are overpaying for our utilities, and with agreement from your landlord, it’s so easy to make the switch to another provider. Head to some comparison websites such as uSwitch to find out how much you could be saving each year using their handy postcode checker.
These comparison sites will scan the market to check which energy provider will offer the best deal for your area- you can do this around every 12 months to make sure you are always paying the best rates for your energy.
Buy second hand
Since London is a city brimming with people, it means that there are so many second hand treasures to be found. If you are moving house, for example, and you need to find some extra bits of furniture, you can look on eBay, Gumtree, Shpock and even Facebook to find second hand furniture in your area. Trust me, once you look on these sites, IKEA will start to look expensive.
Similarly, if you fancy a new outfit for the weekend, take a look in your local charity shops to see what you can find. Usually you can find something unique at the fraction of the cost of a brand new outfit from the high street. If you have something specific in mind, eBay and Depop are also great places to look for new and second hand clothing at bargain prices.
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Swap over your current account
Many of us still bank with the same bank that our parents use, or the bank that we had our first ever account with as a child. That bank may not be serving us with the best interest rates, but we tend to stick with them out of familiarity.
The thing is, you can actually receive money to change your current account to another bank, at the time of writing, you can receive £100 in cash by switching your bank account to RBS, with an additional 2% cashback on most household bills paid by direct debit. What are you waiting for?
Save Money In London- Free Things To Do
Lastly, you might want to consider the things that you can do in London- without spending a penny! The best way to save money in London is to do things for free.
London has a surprisingly large number of free things to do, see and experience in the capital. And even if you’re a true Londoner- you’ll want to think about adding some of these things to your list of things to see and do in the city.
- Free museums & galleries
So many museums and galleries in London are completely free to visit. The V&A, Natural History Museum and Tate Modern are all totally free days out. Check out this guide to the free museums in London that are absolute must-sees.
- Free walking tours
You may usually associate free walking tours with tourists- but they are actually a great way to get to know the city better. There are even some more off the wall walking tours which locals and tourists can both appreciate. Head to my free walking tours in London guide to find out more about ghost tours, Jack The Ripper tours, and Harry Potter tours.
- Free haircuts
A free haircut? In London? Yes, you did read that correctly. You can get a free hair cut a London’s top salons and academies, as they are often in need of hair models to show cuts and styling techniques during seminars and shows. Want to know more? Head to my how to get a free haircut in London guide to start saving.
Although it may not always feel like it, there are hundreds of ways to save money in London. It’s possible to live in the capital whilst on a budget, WITHOUT having to make sacrifices and compromises on your lifestyle. It’s all about making smart money decisions, and saving money on the things you don’t love, to spend more on the things you do love.