Mind the Gap! Mind your Money (While Studying Abroad in London)!
posted by LIM College
by Tiffany D'Angelo
I don’t think I can repeat the words “plan ahead” enough. London is so expensive so it’s important that you research all your options! One great thing about England is that they’re mindful of a student’s financial struggles so there’s opportunity for to save here and there.
Street markets are affordable weekend trips too! My favorites are Camden & Brick Lane.
Here is a list of some of the websites or recommendations that have saved my life and my wallet, in London:
1. My biggest recommendation is to plan ahead with your loan. I really cannot emphasize this enough. Always be prepared for the worst so that you don’t have to stress at the last minute! Your loan can take 4-6 weeks to process so be sure to start saving ASAP! Make up a savings plan. Personally, I set aside about half of my paycheck as often as I could. It can be tough but it’s worth the sacrifice. I’d rather travel to Paris for $90 than buy a couple sweaters for that price.
2. Before arriving, apply for your Student Oyster Card. An Oyster Card is their version of a MetroCard. It can take up to a week for it to be sent to you so you can always order it online a couple days before you arrive. Ask your residence hall reception desk for your mailing address. The card gives you 20% discounts on weekly or monthly passes.
3. A great website to get coupons and learn about discounts from is Unidays! Sign up using your University email address and you can save yourself quite a bit of money…plus you get some great shopping “essentials!”
4. StudentUniverse is my best friend. I got the best deals for all my flights. They sell tickets for flights that are at odd times so they’re cheaper. I got my round-trip flights from London to NY on here for $750 while every other website was asking about $1,000. Ryanair is usually one of the airlines with the best prices!
5. Check conversion rates continuously throughout the semester to get an idea of how to estimate how much you’ll be spending. It’ll also help you start to get the hang of calculating the money you’re spending after conversion.
6. Before leaving to go abraod, go to your local bank branch and ask them to convert your money. I only had to wait 1-2 business days and it’s so worth it. Typically, at the airport you won’t get as much money after converting your cash. My friend converted her money upon arrival and although we both exchanged the same amount in dollars, she got less pounds. Every penny counts!
7. Start a money jar! Put your small bills in it whenever you can. Trust me, you’ll be surprised how much it can add up to!
8. Finally, try to avoid getting an international plan with your American phone provider. From what I’ve heard, it’s much cheaper to just get a UK phone. For about $40 a month with a provider called Three, I get unlimited data, 3000 texts, and 300 calls within Europe. I use the unlimited data to just communicate back home through Whatsapp, where all calls and texts are free! I did have to pay a decent amount of money to get out of my contract back home but in the end it was worth it.
I hope this list is helpful!