(Refresher: I’m studying abroad in London this semester.)
Preparing to study abroad includes getting ready to spend and save money in a new country. On campus, you can pay for anything with your ID card. Plus, food is already sorted out and lots of events on campus are free or at least super cheap. On the other hand, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so I definitely felt motivated to prepare myself. Here are a few of my tips now that I’ve been here for a few months and have a better grasp on my spending and saving habits.
1. Budget tracking
The first step in saving money abroad is keeping track of your purchases. I would suggest logging what you bought and how much you spent in an Excel spreadsheet for one month. This information can give you a better idea of your budget for the entire trip. From there, you can evaluate where to save and where to splurge.
2. Student deals
The opportunities for students deals are endless. There are lots of websites to help you find some of these, like Dojo, Unidays, and Timeout. Yet in general, there are concession prices for students at most attractions, like museums and historical sites. One of the best parts of being a student in London is having a student Oyster card, which is the metro card for the city. This deal can save you lots of money on transportation if you purchase a monthly or weekly card. Just make sure to pack your student ID!
Aside from student deals, I love Groupon. (I definitely get this from my mom.) I have found great deals on dinners or hotels, but my favorite deal was afternoon tea for two at the Cellarium Cafe with my wonderful friend, Jackie. I would definitely recommend checking out Groupon (and its peers) for specific activities or places.
4. DIY for meals
One of the most valuable things I’ve learned while abroad is how to use a cafetiere. I can easily make coffee in the mornings with this little kitchen tool instead of spending two pounds or so at Starbucks or Pret A Manger. The cafetiere is a great souvenir, too, because when I use it at home or at school in the future, I’ll remember my mornings in London.
Aside from caffeine, it also helps the piggy bank to make your own meals. I do suggest going out and finding incredible meals and snacks in your travels. Yet I wouldn’t recommend eating out for every meal. I fell into the habit of always buying lunch out when I went to my internship on Thursdays, and I noticed how much more money I spent on Thursdays than other days of the week. As an added benefit, you’ll become a queen/king of the kitchen with all the practice! There are lots of student-friendly recipes online that can satisfy your wallet and your belly.
You’ll certainly come up with your own strategies once abroad, and get advice from friends and advisors that are specific to your city. Your study abroad program will certainly open up more opportunities for great deals on sight seeing and eating, too. Lots of ways to do amazing things for amazing prices are out there—just keep on the look out!