I still remember the first few months when I first arrived in the UK from Poland back in 2004. I constantly calculated the prices of everything and compared them with prices back at home. Needless to say, everything seemed to cost more and I felt like my babysitter salary could not stretch far enough for me to do all the things I wanted to do.
It took me a good few months before I learned the ways to save money and live on a budget and, believe you me, there are many of them!
Today, I work as an International Officer at the University of Chester
and although my then babysitter days are long gone, I still keep my ears and eyes open to every possibility of saving money.
Here are some of my tips on how to save money on food and travel :)
Don't be shy!
Go to the reduced section in your supermarket. Here in the UK the big stores make great reductions on the products that near the expiry date. First, they reduce it by 10-20%, but by the end of the day the remaining products can be reduced as much as 70- 80%. You will need to experiment a little bit and get to know at what time staff reduces the prices, but with a little bit of patience you can grab some great bargains.
Shop and cook together.
Once you make some new friends at the University, you can arrange to share the cost of shopping and cooking. This is not only a great way to save money (cooking for one is usually more expensive, or you may end up eating the same food for days), but also a great way to socialise and try food from all over the world.
Use supermarket loyalty cards.
A number of supermarkets have loyalty programmes where you can collect points for shopping and receive discount vouchers every few months. It is not unusual to get £10 off when you spend a £30 coupon in Tesco, for example.
Make use of vouchers.
If you want to treat yourself and eat out, there are also a number of websites such as VoucherCodes, kgbdeals and Groupon where you can find two-for-one vouchers on food and much more. In Chester, a number of shops have discounts for students and two-for-one offers on certain days. For example Wok&Go, one of the most favourite restaurants among University of Chester students, offers two large boxes of noodles for £6.60 on Tuesdays. Some restaurants will also have cheaper menus before 5pm on weekdays, for example Pizza Hut offers pizza, salad bowl, side dish, drink for £6. I tried it once and really struggled to clean my plate. One of my favourite pubs in Chester has a great offer on their great quality full English breakfast with tea or coffee - two breakfasts for £10! Toby Carvery's Full English, eat as much as you can is only £3.99.
The next thing I love most after eating is travelling. When you come to the UK to study
, make sure you put some money away to get to know Great Britain or maybe even Europe? There are so many cheap airlines –with Ryanair leading the way – that you can travel to many European cities for less than thank you can think. For example, a flight from UK to Poland may cost you as little as £40 (or less if you book in advance) return. If you prefer not to venture too far, then you should try Megabus –it has great offers and if you book in advance you can go from Manchester to London for less than £5!
And once you get to London, why not sign up to Coachsurfing, a very popular hosting programme where you can get in touch people from all over the world and stay for a few night with them for free! What a great way to get to know people – just make sure you check their references! If you prefer something more traditional, then backpacker hotels are great for students on budget –you can stay at Chester Backpackers Hotel for as little as £15.95.