It’s true that living in a capital city like London is tough; prices are higher, people are ruder, rent is sky-high. :/
But you really can live the high life here, without the megabucks. And I will prove it to you.
I have an average paying salary (admittedly higher than anywhere else in the UK, thanks to the added London living allowance), but still I don’t have too much left over after the bills have disappeared – who does eh?! But I try to save a fair chunk a month too, to go towards next year’s dream trip (see: http://gohemiantravellers.com/2011/02/05/hello-world/).
Some months that makes living really tough, I’m not going to lie. But when you’re as determined as I am, to do something like an around-the-world trip, then there are NO compromises. So ideally I try to live on £100 a week – now that is HARD, and I’m sure those of you who know London well, must think I’m crazy – but it IS do-able.
That’s because there are so many things out there to actually help you save money here – shocking I know! It’s just finding these little saving wonders in the first place – and that’s where I am here to help.
I must first of all flag up Money Saving Expert (http://www.moneysavingexpert.com). It is a fantastic site, developed by Martin Lewis, a specialised finance journalist/author/media personality who offers smart advice on money and saving.
I always stand by his money mantra at the bottom of his mailing list emails, when I make ANY purchase now.
Unfortunately I usually stand in the ‘If You Are Skint’ box but there we go. His site is popular for a reason – his advice is golden! He also provides details on all companies offering vouchers or money off, the latest news on finance in an easy-to-read style and how to get your hands on tonnes of freebies. So believe me when I say bookmarking his website & signing up for his mailing list, will save you £100s – I really mean it.
I must admit a big reason for me moving to London, was for the vibrant social life (as is the pull for hundreds of other people, I’m sure). It really is the best. So I cannot stress how important VOUCHERS are and how much money you will save, as a result of obtaining them! There are so many out there you just have to bookmark these websites. (And FYI: these sites don’t just apply to London so be sure to check wherever you are).
http://www.vouchercodes.co.uk (I’ve frequently used the fashion vouchers and restaurant vouchers from this site).
http://www.groupon.com (This site has great vouchers for experiences and evening events – so if your looking for something to do one weekend, you can get money off 3 course meals, burlesque shows, theatre tickets…it’s great)
http://livingsocial.com (Again brilliant for finding cheap things to do – you can even find real treats and amazing gifts for friends/family like Spa days, hotel deals, Mitchelin Star restaurant bookings) But not forgetting Twitter for the genius function that it serves (you can type in ‘discounts’ or ‘vouchers’ and your city into the search box and just see the results you can find. Winner winner chicken dinner!
If you’re looking for the perfect outfit for a night out for just that little bit cheaper go on http://www.asos.com and check out the Sale/Clearance section for year round awesome deals or sign up to the mailing list and get notified every time its free next day delivery if you’re really in a rush for something.
It can seem like you’re just getting spammed by these companies with their constant emails but there will be the odd one which grabs your eye – and believe me you’ll be stoked you signed up for it! I got my tickets to see Ghost Stories in the West End for half price, thanks to http://www.brandalley.co.uk (it may look like a fashion site, but believe me there’s more!)
And how can we forget about good old eBay. I seem to do more selling on there than buying at the moment to bring those extra pennies in, but you really can save yourself a tonne when buying, by clicking there first. When I’m looking to purchase something I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS check eBay and Amazon first (9/10 times they will provide the cheapest options).
It’s worth paying for the annual Tastecard too, if you do have a few pennies left, http://www.tastecard.co.uk, so you get 50% off when you go out for meals. If you’re anything like me, and you get pretty excited by the prospect of hitting an unknown restaurant, then this card is pretty handy. Admittedly, you do have to check which restaurants you can go to (as some, even certain chain stores, sometimes don’t accept them) and you’re definitely better going Monday to Thursday to actually get the deal. For me, that’s perfect as mid-week dining breaks up the working week nicely, I think.
But the biggest way to save money in this fine city is by making the most of London’s greatest freebies; the parks, the museums, the galleries & the sightseeing.
The Alternative London Tour is a great FREE way of getting a more interesting look at London’s latest street art, bars, vintage stores and historic locations. And if you do have enough £ to leave a tip, all the proceedings go to local charities (now that’s one hell of a tour!) http://alternativelondon.wordpress.com/. I’m going to check this one out very soon.
I’m also a big fan of the Wellcome gallery for their interesting yet offbeat exhibitions. Previously they have showcased exhibitions about skin, drugs and at the moment it’s dirt. Fun eh?
You only have to look on http://www.timeout.com/london to see what is going on – and especially to see what is free (they list those ones in Capitals so keep a look out)! There’s loads to do and you need not fret about burning a hole in your pocket. No credit-card-wincing here! Just lots of good cheap times!
What are YOUR money-saving tips?
Love Em xox