7 Tips for London Living on a Budget - Cost of Living Crisis
This Autumn sees a lot of Londoners in a pinch. Trying to tighten finances and don’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve already done that but want to know some extra money saving hacks or ways to still enjoy living in the capital, on a budget. We’ve put together 7 of our favourite tips for living on a tighter budget in London, and still thriving during the ongoing Cost of Living Crisis.
Community is key
Big City living sometimes doesn’t lend itself to a sense of community… until the pandemic, did you even know your neighbours? That being said, there’s a lot of localised initiatives across London, including Community Fridges, where locals, local organisations and retailers pool together excess food they’ve made or bought and their neighbours are welcome to it! Community Fridges can be found across London from Camberwell to Kentish Town - find your nearest via sustainable living initiative Hubbub’s, interactive map.
Have you ever heard about Local Pantries? Found across the UK and dotted around London, these community-led membership-based pantries are a great place, for those eligible, to pick up groceries for just the low price of their weekly subscription fee.
Along similar lines are Community Stores - a social enterprise initiative started by the Company Shop Group, through which members of the local community, eligible to join - (it’s means-tested), have access to low cost surplus food donated by local retailers. Find where your nearest Community Shop is, and whether you’re eligible for free membership.
There’s an app for everything
If you’ve not got the budget for your usual takeaway anymore, but still want an affordable take-out treat, check out the app TooGoodTooGo - where local bakeries, restaurants and even supermarkets sell ‘Magic Bags’ of their food with a big discount off what they would’ve cost, full price. Another great app for rescuing local surplus food is Olio - where you can search for food going spare nearby or list your own for a neighbour to pick up if you’ve overbought on the fruit and veg!
Looking for a new outfit for just the price of postage? Why not make the most of clothes swapping apps like Nuw - where you get credits for listing some of your own items you’re looking to swap, which you can spend on other items. Not an app, but another great way to swap clothing - (other than with your friends and family, which can be great fun) is the swapping site Don’t Shop, Swap, where you sign up, fill one of their swap bags with the clothes you’re looking to swap, for which you’ll be given ‘swap coins’ to spend on their site to get some new clothes!
Need a couple of new homewares but not got the budget for it at the moment? No problem, there’s an app for that too! Get the Gumtree app to see if there’s any low priced homewares available in the local area. Some other great places to grab new-to-you homewares, at no cost, are Freecycle and TrashNothing, where locals list furniture and more which they’re getting rid of, at no cost - just pick them up (and why not hire a Hiyacar to get there?).
Not got the space for lots of new-to-you stuff at your place, but really need to borrow something for a short time? Whether you’ve got a DIY, gardening or craft project to finish you can rent sewing machines, gardening tools and more from Library of Things, which has locations across London.
Getting around (and out of) the city
Can’t afford the cost of rail tickets these days? There’s a more affordable, convenient way of seeing friends and family out of town or just getting around to run errands. Why not hire a car through Hiyacar - you can hire a vehicle just down the road from you, with free sign up and no deposit or subscription fees!
If you’re looking to get your neighbourhood travelling more affordably, we have a closed loops car sharing initiative, through which, those on the same street, community group or neighbourhood can share cars amongst themselves, making the most of our bespoke car sharing insurance and easy-to-use booking platform. Cars can be shared at discounted costs (via. Mates Rates), meaning those without access to their own car in the community can get around affordably, and local car owners can make extra income.
Pay What You Can and free entertainment
Trying to make the most of living in the Big Smoke, on a tighter budget? No problem, there’s a number of Pay What You Can initiatives at theatres and cinemas across the city - for example, you can see the latest movies at the Barbican Cinema every Friday for £3. See great Theatre for £5 (or less) at The Arcola Theatre in the West End through their Pay What You Can Tuesdays. Battersea Arts Centre also offers Pay What You Can tickets for their performances, for £6 a ticket (or less if you speak directly to their Box Office).
Why not check out (or re-visit if it’s been a while!) one of the city’s museums, whose permanent collections are free - like Tate Modern, the Science Museum, the National Gallery, V&A Museum or the Natural History Museum.
Creature comforts on a budget
More and more of us are making the move back to in-office working, leaving behind the WFH set-ups we’ve grown used to for the last 2 years or so. This means less home-cooking (and cheap coffee). So, second to making your coffee or tea at home and taking a flask on the commute or to the office with you, is purchasing a reusable cup and making the most of one of the discounted hot drinks schemes that are popular with coffee shop chains at the moment.
Our advice is head in to your favourite chain, or even your favourite local independent coffee shop (as they may have a similar scheme), and ask them what the applicable discounts are on your favourite drink, for bringing in a reusable cup.
Another ‘luxury’ you may not want to write-out of your budget is your hair appointment. However, many hair salons (and even some beauty salons) are after hair ‘models’ for trainees to get experience on, or for styling photos for their portfolios. These appointments are often highly discounted or sometimes free… so long as you don’t mind a bigger change than you’re used to. Again, head to your local salon, or try a couple in the local area and see which services they need ‘models’ for.
What are friends for?!
After a new book, a new hobby or even a new outfit? Round up your friends and get swapping amongst yourselves, you’re bound to have finished with your copy of the new bestseller, or maybe you’ve got some Classics lying around that you just weren’t keen on.
Swap hobbies you got bored of halfway through - that painting set you bought that’s sat in the cupboard could be fun for a friend to take up! Got friends with children too? Why not swap some un-played with toys to keep the kids entertained this winter!
Got green fingers? Why not swap plant cuttings with friends and grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables! This is obviously more of a seasonal tip, but why not give it a go with some mint, parsley, chives or thyme in winter and as spring and summer roll around, try strawberries or tomatoes!
Looking for a cheaper way to get around but only going a short distance? Why not trial bikes like Human Forest bicycles, which can be found across London, and for which you get 10 minutes free use per day! Scooters like Tier can also be found in multiple locations around the city and you can even get your first 20 minutes free!
There are a number of initiatives businesses and organisations can take advantage of, such as the Zero Emissions Network ZENCard - through which they can get discounts on more sustainable travel options, for their employees* (London City Fringe based initiative).
Employers and employees across the capital (and the UK) can make use of the Government Cycle to Work initiative - which helps spread out the cost of loaning cycling gear and equipment, making your commute more sustainable and affordable.
Secondhand cycles are also a great way to cut commuting costs, usually slightly more of an outright investment than just renting a bike, but you can grab an affordable one from local cycle shops, on Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Preloved, The Bike Project and more. Maintenance is key to keep pre owned bicycles in good shape; make it last and it’ll work out even cheaper per ride - community-run initiatives like Hackney Bike Workshop can help you do so for free (donations welcome).
Looking for more money saving and money making tips? Check out our post on how to make money with what you already own.