Life in the UK, especially London, can be very expensive. As a student is it essential to save wherever possible – those pennies do add up!
Read on for our top insider tips to shopping for groceries, bringing your food purchases home and student travel around the city and country.
Shopping for Groceries on a Budget
When it comes to food shopping the three cheapest supermarkets Asda, Tesco and Morrisons are constantly competing with each other for lower prices and the title of Britain’s Cheapest Supermarket. This creates a huge range of offers and promotions throughout all three stores. Asda offers to pay the difference if your food shop is not 10% cheaper than the other leading supermarkets and Tesco slashed the prices of 3000 popular food items as well as providing the Tesco club card which offers a ‘point per pound’ that accumulates and is later available in discounts and coupons towards your shop. Morrisons offer similar price slashes as well as a ‘pay day bonus’ of £10 off your last shop of the month – providing you spend £35 per week for the first three weeks.
It is likely you will stay in a communal house or student accommodation and it is recommended to shop for food together in order to take advantage of multi buy discounts, points towards vouchers or money off at the end of the month.
Other smaller supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi provide imported foods and alcohol from Europe at very low prices, however, food items such as fresh vegetables and meats are in short supply. Sainsbury’s and Waitros offer mid-range prices while Marks and Spencer are very expensive and best saved for a treat.
How to Carry Heavy Food Purchases Home
Travelling back to your accommodation with your food purchases can be a bit of a challenge. However this can be overcome by taking public transport to the supermarket and then sharing a taxi back to your accommodation with your friends or housemates. Or you can opt for home delivery. Home delivery is a service offered by Asda and Tesco to most locations for a one off or monthly fee – Tesco offers mid-week delivery on shops over £40 from £7.50 or anytime delivery from £10 per month, well as Asda offer delivery for £8 per month or £15 for 3 months (limited time only) and Morrisons has recently signed a deal with Ocado to begin their own home delivery service soon.
Sign up to websites such as Groupon and Wowcher to receive daily emails with money saving offers of up to 80% off luxury restaurants, designer clothing, weekend trips and beauty spa treatments- This can enable students to occasionally indulge in a more luxury lifestyle! It is also recommended to apply for a NUS (£10) or NUS+ (£12) card which entitles students to 10-50% discounts for high street stores, music downloads, bars, restaurants, travel, cinema tickets, books and it even offers a free cheese burger or fries with purchases in McDonalds.
Advise for Public Transportation
Public transport is a great way to get around in the UK with transport links to almost anywhere; however, although cheaper than putting a car on the road, the money soon adds up. If you regularly use public transport it is recommended to purchase weekly or monthly passes. These can usually be purchased online, from the ticket office in a train station or from your bus driver (in London you will need to purchase a student Oyster card, once you have confirmation from your University you can apply on the TFL website and you will receive a large discount as well as 30% off travel cards).
If you would like to travel around the UK whilst you study in your chosen city you can purchase a young person’s rail card. This will also provide 30% off train and coach tickets – look out for the offers involving the young person’s rail card. Some banks even offer a 3 year card for free if you open your student bank with them. The cheapest way to travel around the UK is via coach, the two main companies Megabus and National Express offer excellent services between all major towns and cities. You can purchase special offers with National Express by using their FunFares service.
Websites such as studentbeans.com and freshersfields.com offer quirky student stories, top tips on job hunting and more of those ever important student discounts, money off vouchers and competitions to win, for example, a yearlong supply of broadband.
When you’re just starting off in the world of student life it can be hard to find out the best ways to save money. Use these tips make your budget stretch and really enjoy the experience.
Author bio: Robyn Edwards is a recent graduate of London Southbank University and has years of experience in student advising and budgeting for her own needs. She is now a writer and consultant for UKEAS in Philippines, where prospective students can find excellent advice on studying in the UK