Saving To Survive

If you're time-poor as well as cash-strapped, here are some East London life-hacks

Every university student will have to sit down and work out how to budget, so you may as well start early. The most crucial things to budget for are having a place to sleep; having enough to eat; and having some money left over for fun. Below are our useful tips and tricks for living in such a savvy part of London: the East.

  1. Pay the price for those big things

You might think that Spotify or Netflix are a luxury, and that the £5-£10 could be spent somewhere else. But lazy Sunday screen time and listening to your favourite track from your last visit to Fabric, are worth every penny.

  1. You always need a place to live

Rent is going to be the most expensive part of studying in East London, and as in most parts of this city, rents are creeping up day by day. So to ensure that you always have a place to live, pay your rent the minute that your student loan comes through. Your rent should be your priority, so it makes sense that it is the first thing that you pay when your money comes in. When moving out of Halls I’d recommend going to some viewings that you know are within your price range – even if you’re not interested. This will help you see how much you can get for your money. To share a four bedroom flat in East London you’re looking to pay around £500 pcm, not including bills.

  1. Learn to cook

East London has some of the most exotic, interesting restaurants in the city. With Brick Lane on your door step, and new restaurants opening all the time, there’s an abundance to choose from – but eating out can also be very expensive. When cocktails cost anywhere from £7, meals can be extortionate. My tip is to learn to cook some of those wonderful dishes at home, and to invite people over. You will find it far cheaper, and potentially more sociable, and you’ll be glad for it when you finally do go out to a fancy restaurant and find you can order a starter, main, dessert and a cocktail.

There are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable markets in Stratford, Hackney and Leyton. Buying your fresh ingredients from the market works out a lot cheaper and it will also bring you closer to the community. Ditching those brand labels for the stores’ own brands, isn’t the worst thing in the world. No matter if your mum told you that nothing beats Heinz, I can assure you that beanz also meanz own brand.

  1. Learn to have fun on a budget

I don’t just mean finding the cheapest bottle of wine with the highest alcohol content, although that is a good skill to have. East London can be an expensive area to drink, but finding a place that does a student night, or sourcing a wristband that gets you into seven clubs at once, will help your budget. Or why not learn how to have just as much fun staying in as you would going out? How about a movie night with popcorn and homemade cocktails? You can also head down to the SU and get yourself a £1.50 drink. Visiting sites such as TimeOut and #PopUpLondon on Twitter can usually give you plenty of cheap things to do, and both have their own student section.

  1. Allow yourself to spend on occasion

Birthdays, Halloween and Christmas all give you good reasons to spend money. So stay in for a few nights to save up for them. That way you might be able to have that great birthday night out, or to buy your Mum that gift you knew she always wanted.


These tips have helped me not only to manage the basics, I’ve also been able to afford a good time. But it is inevitable that some weeks you will go over your budget, which means you’ll need to spend the following week eating lots of pasta and binge-watching Rick and Morty. But it is all a part of the East London University experience, and negotiating times of poverty and plenty will teach you the budgeting skills that you need for the rest of your life.

Images are taken from student friendly bars in East London: @llchx
Grow @ Hackney Wick
Monteys Bar @ Bricklane