• General tips
• Vouchers & Coupons
• Eating out
• Eating in
• Theatre tickets
General Top Tips
• Be on the lookout for emails from Linda and Charine with links to loads of websites offering money-off vouchers for everything from shampoo to groceries (even if you just check out one, freestuffjunction.com, you’ll be doing yourself a favour!)
• Time Out: Get the weekly listings magazine in print or online: Time Out. Not only will this give you listings of events happening in London, including free events such as clubs, gigs and comedy nights, but it often has vouchers for 2 for 1 travel deals, exhibition entrances, restaurant meals and so on. They also have an excellent blog.
• Time Out will also give you the low-down on cheap days out, but it is certainly worth pointing out that you are now in a capital city that affords you FREE access to all major museums.
• SU London Field Trips: On the subject of cheap days out, DO take advantage of our Field Trips! The feedback on these has been excellent – as part of your program you get to go to a wide variety of places and all you have to fork out is a deposit that you get back when you show up!
• Use your ISIC card! Whenever you eat out or go to any event anywhere, make sure you ask them if they do ISIC discounts. Most places do not advertise them because, of course, they don’t make so much money on discounts! (one example: 10% discount on total purchase with your Student ISIC card)
• Also DO use your Student Travelcard for London Underground. Not only do you get a whopping one-third discount off London Travelcards, you can also use your travelcard to get discounts in London Riverboats.
• Clothing: Try and get yourself away from the American-style clothing stores in the West End. The best place for American style stores is America. You are in England. Get out to Zone 2 and go to a Primark. You will get good gear, and you will get it for a fraction of the price. Ditto MARKETS! And we don't mean the trendy street markets in the west end that sell second-hand clothes and call them vintage. I mean the ones a bit further out Zone 2 like Brixton and East Street in South London, or Roman Road, Dalston Junction and Walthamstow in East London. (Queen’s Crescent and Inverness Street in Camden Town).
• More on markets, markets, markets!!! Street markets that sell clothes generally sell food and household goods as well. There are some that really specialise in fresh produce though, such as Borough Market and the nearby Berwick Street Market just off Oxford Street. We recommend you do your shopping as late in the day as possible -- that way you get to take advantage of all the discounts on offer. In markets you can get whole bowls of fruit or veggies for a pound and in supermarkets you can really get some great deals on packets of pastries and cakes at knock-down prices.
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• TeleDiscount: international calls charged at local rate: telediscount.co.uk. Everything you need to know is there. You select the country you want to call and the rate for that county is displayed – even telling you the rates for either a call to a landline or a mobile phone. Basically you just dial an access number and you will be prompted when to dial your destination number. Check it out and save!!
• Cheap international calling cards are best used from a landline, if available
• It can be expensive to ring UK mobiles from the US -- it's much cheaper to call landlines
• If you get on same mobile network as your friends, oftentimes there are cheap 'network-to-network' calling deals
• Top-up cards in higher denominations offer better value with most networks
• As in the States, texting is greatly cheaper than voice calls. Check with you provider for rates.
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Vouchers & Coupons
• www.moneysavingexpert.com is a website that publishes current 2-4-1 offers and discount coupons. You just print them out and use 'em.
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Internet Cafes & Wifi
• Free wifi hotspots abound in London - check with coffee shops, hotel lobbies, even some museums! (Fun fact: your editor is posting this section while using free wifi at the coffee shop Look Mum No Hands!) This list of free-wifi locations from TimeOut is mostly up to date, as is this one from Londonist, but if you look around you can find more!
• Faraday House has free wifi! Plop yourself down on the couches in the student lounge with your laptop -- we're on AirOrange; same login procedure as on home campus.
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• American Express or a Post Office is best for changing money – avoid the little tourist shops and change booths that will most likely rip you off
• The best exchange rate is usually on ATM and credit cards transactions
• Check with your bank to see if you are charged for international ATM transactions, if you are, take out more money less frequently
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• When eating out, look for ‘BYO’ (bring your own) deals. Even if you eat out cheaply, it’s the drinks that push up the price.
• Try eating Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese or Indian, as they're generally cheaper. Some great hot food stalls in the markets, Camden, Borough, Spitalfields etc.
• Try Belgo, a cool Belgian restaurant with a Beat the Clock deal running Monday–Friday with different eligible times at the different locations. You order at 6:10 – you pay £6.10. Eat early! There are a few different locations - check their website for details.
• Look out for all you can eat buffets
• Look out for 2 for 1 deals in Wagamama
• Check out www.toptable.co.uk for great special offers in some very fine restaurants. Both set price deals and 50% offers, depending on what’s on offer.
• Join ULU and use the student café and pubs
• Wetherspoons – another popular pub chain with cheap 2-4-1 meal deals
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Saving Money on Food Shopping
• Large supermarkets give much better value than convenience stores
• Perishable foodstuffs such as bakery and veg. items are reduced in the evening so try shopping after 8 p.m. Look out for bags of rolls and pastries, speciality bread reduced, ready meals nearing sell-by date, rotisserie chicken, hot cooked food...
• Investigate loyalty cards: Tesco cards, Boots cards etc.
• Make friends with a stallholder if you shop in the market. You may get extra produce thrown in!
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• Argos: catalog shopping. Go to an Argos store and pick up their catalog (there are shops on High St. Kensington, New Oxford Street, & Grays Inn Road locations are convenient for students)
• Make some tea, sit down with your flatmates and go through the catalog
• Go back to Argos and place your order (it’s an electronic process in the store)
• Lots of stuff? Bulky items? Won’t be that pricey if you share a cab ride home with your flatmates to get things easily to your new place
• Or, order on-line and have items delivered!
• Tesco: You’ll need a big Tesco. Not a “Tesco Metro” or a Tesco Express” to get houseware/clothing selection
• Asda = Walmart: Look for your local store using your postcode
• Don’t forget about the Markets! There’s Portobello Road, Spitalfields Market, Borough Market...
• Should you really want it, the nearest Ikea in London is in Wembly. You can easily walk from the Tube station at Neasden on the Metropolitan line
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Cheap Tickets – Theatre Tips
• There is no need to ever pay full price (in excess of £50) for a ticket!
• In London, almost every theatre has discounts for students, called their “student concession”. Every box office has its own policy with slightly different rules, so you have to inquire at the box office for each show. Plan on spending £7.50 to £20.00 for a West-End ticket, some box offices offer their student concession “day seats” on the day of the performance at 10 a.m., some two hours before, others one hour or 45 minutes prior to the curtain
• The National Theatre has an "Entry Pass" membership deal for anyone aged 16-25. There's an allocation of £5 tickest for every performance put on at the Theatre. Download an application form on the National Theatre's website to join -- it's DEFINITELY worth it for £5 tickets!
• Standing Room is a great way to see theatre cheaply. The Globe Theatre has a fantastic season of shows (mainly Shakespeare) and ‘groundlings’ stand for £5. The Royal National Theatre & the Donmar Warehouse have standing for £6 but only when the show is sold out. The best bargain in London is the Royal Court’s standing Room at 10p – day of the show only
• If you don’t feel like standing, the Royal Court does all tickets £7.50 on Mondays, and you’ll generally find better bargains if you can go to the Theatre Monday – Thursday as opposed to the weekend
• The National Theatre in addition to having a £10 season (book early, they go fast), each performance also has a number of day seats held for sale at 10 a.m. on the day of the show. Watch out though, if the show is really popular, sometimes people will line up for hours
• The Donmar Warehouse also releases seats at 10 a.m. day of the show
• The half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square (TKTS) is okay, but make sure you go to the official one in middle of the square, not one of the sketchy ones on the outskirts of the square. Generally you can get cheaper tickets and better seats by a student concession at the box office.
• Don’t book through ticket agencies (i.e. Ticketmaster) and pay their ridiculous transaction fees – better to go directly through the box office.
• Surprisingly, the box office person has a lot of power, it always helps to be incredibly nice to them, and let them know that you’re dying to see their play, but don’t have a lot of money – and occasionally they’ll pull some strings
• Read Time Out for special theatre deals. Check out what the fringe theatres and drama schools are doing around town – they’re often really cheap or free and often put on fantastic shows.
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Check out the smashingly comprehensive guide to "Cheap London" from the brilliant folks over at TimeOut.