Budgeting can be a daunting task at the best of times, but it's made even trickier while studying abroad. There are so many exciting things to do and see that it can be hard to keep track of your spending. Use some of our helpful tips and budgeting tools to ensure you don't end up eating tins of beans for your last two weeks!
Use these helpful tools to keep track of your spending habits (in other words, use these to see how much you're really spending at Pret each week):
During the first few weeks you can expect to be spending more money than usual as you get all the basics you will need for your housing, classes, and cooking. So don't be too worried if it seems that your money is disappearing quickly; it will likely even out soon. One of the very best ways to save money is to cook at home. It is cheaper, and usually healthier, to cook your own food, and if you team up with your friends or flat mates to grocery shop and cook this is also a great way to share the burden. There are plenty of inexpensive grocery stores such as Lidl, Asda, The Co-op, Sainsbury's and Tesco. Even the "more posh" stores like Waitrose will price match with the lower-end stores.
Try to avoid the smaller versions of grocery stores (Tesco Express, Sainsbury's Local, Morrison's Daily) as these tend to be more expensive since you are paying for the convenience of a nearby shop. Bigger is better when it comes to supermarkets, but you may have to travel further afield to find them.
Don't forget to check the "discount" section of grocery stores towards the end of the day, which will have massively reduced items for sale that are going to be expiring that day. This is a great way to get cheap food that is still perfectly fine to eat.
Obviously you won't be cooking at home all the time since there is a whole world of exciting cuisine to try in the UK. The Brits might get a bad reputation for their food, but make sure to try a Sunday roast, fish and chips, pie and mash, as well as regional delicacies and an assortment of ethnic foods brought to the UK by immigrants from all over the world. When you do want to eat out, follow these tips to save some money.
Many students are surprised by how much it costs to get around on public transportation, but there are a few ways to make it a bit cheaper.
You can find some great deals on websites such as EasyJet and RyanAir, but make sure you’re following their travel restrictions (i.e. size of carry-on) so you don't get stuck with unexpected fees at the airport.
With the 16-25 Railcard you save 30% on all trains throughout the UK. While, there’s usually a charge for the travel cards, they end up paying for themselves with your first booking so even if you only use it once, it’s worth it.
Although booking a flight every weekend to a new European destination sounds like the study abroad dream (although not very eco-friendly), it can also make your semester very costly. Instead, take the time to see what’s right on your doorstep!
Want to see the coast? Travel to Brighton (often called ‘London by the sea’), Cornwall, or Wales. In need of some green space? Visit The Highlands in Scotland or explore national parks such as the Lake District, Snowdonia, the Peak District and Dartmoor.
Just because you are trying to be frugal does not mean you can never leave your dorm for fear of spending money. There are loads of free things to do in the UK.