If you’ve ever been to London, you probably know that it’s expensive. It’s not a secret that London salary/rent price ratio is totally screwed up and we all (inhabitants of London) always need to think about different elaborated ways to save money in London and at the same time have a good standard of life. So in this post, I wanted to share with you 5 lifehacks I use to save money in London (so I can travel basically every single month and sometimes even more often).
10 great ways to save money in London
1. Save on restaurants with Gourmet Society Card
Okay, we all like going out from time to time and going out in London is really expensive (it’s not a secret). So how do you actually keep going out and save money as a couple or alone? The answer is… with a special food card. There are quite a few cards on the market right now, but I’ve only used two of them: Tastecard and Gourmet Society Card. I actually got my Gourmet Society Card for free when I opened an account in Lloyds, so it was a win-win situation.Gourmet Society card helps you reduce your food/total bill costs by up to 50% and it’s pretty awesome. As a couple, you can save double the money, as it works for up to 10 (in some weird cases) people.
The downside: well, there are some amazing restaurants participating in the programme, however, as you can expect, you fav restaurants might not be there (because they don’t need to provide discounts to get more clients). Always check a rating of the restaurant on Google or Yelp before booking it.
2. Always use your Nectar Card, Club Card and other points cards
Why would you bother to carry around all the points card to shop for… groceries? Well, the answer is… Just by showing your points card at your local grocery store can land you free restaurant meals every 3-5 months or so. Yep, you got me right – FREE restaurant meals. During this year, we already had 3 absolutely free restaurants visits with our Tesco Clubcard. And we don’t even always shop in Tesco and spend that much on groceries.
3. Open a bank account that gives you benefits
If you’re thinking of changing a bank, you might research the benefits in advance. Some banks even give you free cash or vouchers worth up to £150, if you switch to them. Some others, give you pretty amazing benefits, like a free magazine subscription, cinema tickets or a Gourmet Society Card (p.1 above). I got my GSC from Lloyds.
4. Save on bank commissions
If you’re travelling quite often, you might consider opening an account with one of the online banks like Monzo, Monese or Revolut. I’m with Revolut and while it has 1000000 downsides and is definitely not reliable to use as your primary bank card in the UK, it’s pretty awesome for going abroad, as you can pay for your purchases without commission as well as extract money in ATMs all around the world without extra fees. For that you need to pay a standard monthly fee, but it pays off, if you’re travelling a lot. The fees, for your knowing, might be really high. For example, with Lloyds, I need to pay from £.0.5 to £1.5 commission every single time I pay by card (plus the exchange rate isn’t brilliant), so if I travel once a month for a weekend and pay, let’s say, 15 times with my card (groceries, restaurants, souvenirs, coffee and so on), I’ll spend like £10-15 on commission + additional X pounds on a bad exchange rate.
5. Switch to a new broadband operator
It’s always cool to monitor some great deals. For example, I switched from Three to Vodafone and got a free Spotify premium for a year (or Sky Sports subscription for a year as an alternative).
6. Get a cinema card
If you like watching movies in the cinema, you might consider getting a cinema card. Currently, Odeon and Cineworld have those. You pay around £20 pounds a month (£18 excluding central London) and can go to movies as often as you’d like. Knowing that an average ticket price is from £13 to £19 in London, going to the cinema twice a month with that card will already save you a lot of money.
7. Buy discounted theatre tickets
If you really like theatre, but can’t afford to buy tickets at regular prices, you can go to TKTS on Leicester Square and buy tickets with up to 50% for the same day performances. That’s how we got our tickets to Venus in Fur for £33 (for the 4th row in stalls) and to American in Paris for £18 (also in stalls).
8. Check if your jobs provides you with benefits
Some jobs provide you with really great benefits and discounts for various shops. For example, if you work in Expedia, you get up to 30% off in Bodyshop and 9% off in Gap and many more discounts. Why not use them?
9. Buy clothes in TK Maxx
Shopping is expensive. But not that expensive if you don’t care about the latest collections and shop in TK Maxx instead. I love TK Maxx for its shoe assortment: I bought really good Geox and Kurt Geiger shoes for as low as £30 each pair and it was a pretty awesome deal! The only problem is that TK Maxx is like a treasure hunt – you need to spend there a lot of time in order to find a really great deal. Also, it makes sense, to stay away from the most touristy areas like Covent Garden, as TK Maxxes there look like a desert with only weird clothes and shoes left.
10. Buy a railcard or a Commuter’s club monthly travel card
And the last but not least way to save money in London is to buy a railcard or a Commuter’s club monthly travel card. It’s cheaper to buy the Oyster travel card for a year, but not all of us have that money at your disposal. Commuter’s Club solves that issue and gives you the yearly Oyster card, but you pay for it in monthly instalments. And you also get a railcard, where you can save up to 30% on rail prices. If you don’t need a yearly oyster card, you can just buy a railcard. For example, we often travel as a couple with Pepe and we have the Two Together railcard, that already saved us a lot of money. Just so you know, it works for all rail tickets – including trains to Stansted, Gatwick and other airports. The card costs £30 for a year, but summing up all the discounts we got, we probably saved around £200-300 already!
Okay, so that was it about the tips to save money in London. If you know any other money-saving tips, please, leave them in the comments!
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