London is pricey. Really, really pricey. But that doesn’t mean you can’t live it up – it just means you have to be smart. Here’s how.
1. Look Out for Free Stuff
London is amazing for free stuff. And now just any old free stuff: some of the best art, museums, even theatre and film events in the world come without any price tag at all. From the British Museum, the Tate Modern and the National History Museum through to less publicised gems like John Soames’ House, Angel Comedy in Camden and international short film nights at 93 Feet East, you can get just about all your cultural thrills without spending a penny. Need some inspiration? Take a look at Time Out’s weekly guide to free stuff in the capital.
2. Picnic In the Parks
Why pay over the odds to sit in a pub garden when you can take your own wine (and food) to one of London’s loveliest parks? There’s certainly no shortage of green spaces in the city – from London Fields to Hyde Park, you have hundreds of gorgeous open spaces to lounge about in with a beer. On a sunny day, nothing beats it.
3. Take the Bus Over the Tube
Prices on the underground seem to soar year-on-year, and if you’re going into/out of Zone 1, it can get expensive pretty fast. Jump on a bus with your Oyster or contactless card, however, and a single bus can get you from one far-flung extreme corner of London to another for a fixed price of £1.50. Bargain!
4. Walk or Cycle Where You Can
While some spots are certainly safer than others, London is packed with cycle lanes (not to mention Boris Bikes), and often it’s not only the cheapest but the fastest way to get around.
If close encounters with black cabs make you nervous, you can often walk from borough to borough a lot faster than you might think – use an app like WalkIt to help you map it first.
Not only will this save you pennies, it will give you a chance to explore your area and get some exercise without splashing out on gym membership.
5. Plan Meals for the Week
The city is hectic, work hours are long and commutes are exhausting: it’s no wonder that most of us end up picking up a takeaway far more often than we should, while groceries wilt in the fridge. But this is where a huge proportion of your money can easily get squandered.
Instead, decide what you’re going to have for dinner every night for the next week and then buy all your ingredients in one go (with the exception of a few fruits or veggies that you need to get fresh). Knowing you have everything you need will cut your cooking time and reduce the temptation to pop to Burger King instead.
6. Download Uber
For late nights out, TfL strikes and all manner of emergencies, Uber is amazing. Far, far cheaper and more convenient than hailing a cab, and you don’t need to have cash on you to pay. Plus, if you know someone who’s already on it, get them to send you an invitation to sign up and your first £10’s worth of rides are free!
7. Take Your Own Lunch
That £4 you’re spending on a so-so sandwich every workday is costing you £1,040 a year. It might be an extra five minutes of hassle in the morning to make your own lunch, but think of it as an instant pay rise. One that isn’t taxed, and could just about fund a holiday to the Bahamas when winter rolls around.
8. Make Your Own Coffee
If your £4 sandwich habit is ill-advised, your early morning Starbucks coffee is downright wasteful. Replacing it with a DIY caffeine fix (by brewing up some decent coffee first thing and taking it with you in a thermos flask) will add a couple of minutes to your morning routine and save you around £780 a year. Actually, when you think about it, for the extra 8.7 hours you’ll spend making your own coffee per year, you’ll kind of be paying yourself £90 an hour. And you don’t even have to wait in line.
What moneysaving tips and life hacks do you use to make living in London more manageable? Share your tips in the comments below!