Stash Some Cash!


Yesterday I was looking at my savings account and decided to convert the dollar figure to a more useful currency — pounds. How disappointing. Although the exchange rate isn’t awful, the dollar is definitely weak when up against the pound. Since traveling and sightseeing are number one on my list, saving money elsewhere is key to keep my account comfortable. Here are some good tidbits to get more bang for your buck/quid:

Oyster

Pick up an Oyster Card.

This is a must for everyone, but for those that are planning on using public transportation on a daily basis to reach their destination, this will be incredibly beneficial. The Oyster card basically makes your trips on any given day as inexpensive as possible by calculating the cheapest routes. It can be used on the bus, Tube, trams, DLR, London Overground and even some National Rail services. You can do the pay-as-you-go deal or the auto top-up, which automatically adds x amount of £ after your balance falls under £5.

Making Cookies 004

Don’t Eat Out {Often}.

Obviously, grabbing a bite to eat or meeting everyone at the pub after class is a social adventure, but eating out every night — how long does that take before you realize you’re literally eating up your travel money? I happen to be a big fan of cooking, and fortunately for everyone there are a number of ASDAs, Sainsbury’s and even a Whole Foods nearby! Why not stock up on food & drinks and prepare your own food at home? Or have people over for dinner! It’s just as good as going out (but way cheaper)!

BritishMuseum

Be a Smart Tourist.

I think one of the greatest things about studying in another country is the idea of exploring your new turf. Due to the fact that London, much like NYC, has a million things to do and see, checking out tourist attractions can be a little too exciting. Entry fees don’t run cheap at the London Eye and the hop on-and-off double decker tourist buses come at a decently hefty price tag. Instead, there are so many places that you can visit for free! Loads of museums, including the prestigious British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum are totally free to visit. The gorgeous parks don’t charge an entry fee and Westminster Abbey? Sure, you’d pay the £13 that they request for entry (worth every pound, mind you), but why pay when you can hit up a Sunday mass for free and get a glimpse? Plus, one the greatest things is that you get to be there for one year-plus and get to explore it as a Londoner instead of a tourist. Of course the Tower of London is a must-see, but keep the super-touristy stuff to a minimum and save some serious cash.

Railcard

Nab a Railcard.

These little cards run £26 for an annual pass or £63 for a three-year pass. With the 16-25 railcard, you’re entitled to 1/3 off your rail fares — definitely a cost-saver if you’re planning on exploring the UK! There’s also a card if your family or friends come to visit. The Family & Friends Railcard saves users 1/3 on rail fare for adults and 60% on rail fare for children. A bonus: Up to 4 adults and 4 children can travel on one single card!

Sign up at StudentDiscounts.co.uk.

I signed up with this site and I get weekly emails with sweet student discounts. Of course, some of the discounts are irrelevant, but if you can snag a few deals just by being aware… why not?

Wicked
Get Theatre Tickets on the Cheap!

My new housing happens to be right in the center of Theatreland and is therefore begging me to catch a play or a musical. Although I love live performances, I don’t know that I necessarily love them £59 worth. With a limited amount of funds, £59 translates into roundtrip airfare to Ireland for me. (By the way, if it’s a play versus a trip to Ireland, Ireland always wins.) If you’re willing to not plan your night out, you can check out LastMinute.com’s theatre section and find plays for £25. Some are even as low as £10! Spectacular.

StudentBeans.com.

This site has loads of goodies to save you money on entertainment, eating out, fashion, hair, health, pubs, travel and even books! Things like 20% off coupons, 2 for 1s, and more! Gotta love a deal.

BrightonBeach
Consider Day Trips from London.

As an American going overseas, I tend to think about trips I can take to mainland Europe: France, Germany, Spain, Italy, etc. I tend to forget that the UK, itself, is a land that I have yet to explore. There are so many day trips that can be done on the cheap with a discounted rail ticket, a camera & a friend! If you want to make a weekend out of it, find a nearby hostel & spend the night!

Here are some suggested day trips (courtesy of London For Free’s site):

Bath: Check out the Roman baths & the Georgian architecture // Journey: 1 1/2 hours
Stonehenge: This is a prime visit for obvious reasons, but while you’re in the area you can also check out Salisbury Cathedral, built in 1220, which is pretty amazing! // Journey: 1 1/2 hours
Oxford: Check out the amazing university & see where Harry Potter was filmed // Journey: About 50 min. with direct service
Brighton: Similar to London but with a beach front and promenade // Journey: About 1 hour with direct service

Even though converting your $$ to ££ is probably no less daunting, at least you know you can get more bang for your £!

Happy (& Inexpensive!) Travels,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Louis on September 5, 2009 at 9:22 PM

    I love cooking too :) Let’s have a dinner party at your hall, or mine, or others sometimes… we can cook something nice together.. and I am into theatre discounts and day trips…. count me in please…

    Reply

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