Tag Archives: budget

Student hacks for living in London

BA Global Politics and International Relations student, Aditya Mukherjee, shares his favourite tips for enjoying life as a Birkbeck student in London, on a budget.  

Living in London as a student can be quite a challenge, especially for mature students like me, who might find adjusting to a student budget tricky. However, as the saying goes: ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. It’s therefore my pleasure to share the following hacks to enjoy life in London on a budget and as a Birkbeck student. 

Lunch and dinner parties 
Getting together for lunch and dinner parties at home is a brilliant way to swap expensive meals in restaurants for a cozier, low-budget time together with friends and delicious food. It’s also a very good way to make friends and explore the different cuisines and cultures of your fellow students. When my friends and I host our meals, we either get groceries together or decide in advance what we can cook together and who brings what, which brings out the best of what each person has to offer. It’s a great way to build relationships while enjoying great food and drink from all over the world. 

George Birkbeck Bar 
If going out for a pint or glass of wine becomes inevitable, the George Birkbeck Bar, located on the 4th floor of Birkbeck’s Malet Street building, is the perfect place. Open from 2-11pm, the George Birkbeck Bar offers spirits, drinks and snacks at very affordable prices compared to other pubs in Central London – you can get a pint for £3.50! Available to students right in the middle of campus, there is terrace seating overlooking Torrington Square, making it the perfect place for evening views of the city and lively pub conversations. Don’t miss out!  

Terrace 5 
Terrace 5 is Birkbeck’s canteen, located on the 5th floor of the Malet Street building. It offers a wide range of hot lunch selections every afternoon. For just £6, students can get a delicious and filling lunch that has a main, two sides and a salad. In addition to this, Terrace 5 is open until 6:30pm and there is always a selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches available to purchase even after lunch service has finished. This means a quick dinner before class can also be enjoyed. 

Bloomsbury Farmers Market
If you are ever in the mood for something exotic, the Bloomsbury Farmers Market in Torrington Square every Thursday is the place to be. Though on the pricy side for most students (£11- £15 for a meal), for those who would like to spice up their Thursdays, it offers a diverse selection of cuisines from all over the world right on Birkbeck’s doorstep. A good hack for getting around the slightly more expensive prices, is to go just at closing time at 2pm, when a lot of stalls are more than happy to sell their meals at half price. It may not work at every stall, but coming from experience, it is worth a try. 

Hare Krishna free lunches 
If you are in the mood for a healthy vegetarian meal, try the free lunch offered by Hare Krishna devotees of London’s Radha-Krishna Temple. The lunch is offered every day from 12-2pm just outside SOAS, which is very close to Birkbeck’s main buildings. It’s impossible to miss, as there are usually queues of students waiting to be served.  

Totum Student discount card and app
This is an absolute must-have, as you get discounts on a range of stores, restaurants and services, advertised on a weekly and monthly basis. The website updates the deals on offer regularly, and if used strategically, it can help save a lot of valuable pounds and pennies.   

Birkbeck student card
Did you know that your Birkbeck student card can also get you discounts while out and about? A vast array of retailers and restaurants offer student discounts if you flash your student card, including Honest Burgers, Yo Sushi, ASOS, Odeon cinemas and many more.  

Birkbeck Film Club 
For movie buffs, who want to keep their viewing up but can’t afford weekly cinema trips, consider joining the Birkbeck Film Club. A club for students to discover films, including those you may not encounter on big commercial screens, Birkbeck Film Club hosts regular film screenings for its members. Themed weeks showcase films from different categories, including French, Spanish, LGBT and more. It’s a great platform to discover arthouse, international, documentary and classic films right on Birkbeck’s campus – for free. Membership is open to current students and alumni, so it’s also a great way to make friends and have interesting conversations after screenings too.  

So, there we have it, those are some of my favourite hacks for living on a student budget in London. But for good measure, here are some final quick-fire hacks too:  

  • Save money on haircuts by joining Facebook groups of ‘@Hair Models in London’ 
  • Sign yourself up for a National Rail Card to get discounts on train travel around the UK   
  • For affordable clothing on a budget, Primark offers stylish options  
  • Get 30% off travel on the Transport for London network, by purchasing and registering a student Oyster card  
  • Fever: an app for various events in London, featuring discounts  
  • Unidays app: similar to Totum, this offers discounts for many retailers   
  • Poundland: get homewares, snacks, and miscellaneous items for just £1  
  • Savers: grab yourself toiletries, beauty products other personal care items for affordable prices  
  • Supermarkets: make use of Meal Deals for £3, which include a drink, a main, and a snack  
  • Too Good to Go: an app that lets you collect, for free or very cheap, perfectly good food from stores that would otherwise be thrown out at the end of each day   



Five top tips from a student on how to save money

MA Applied Linguistics and Communication student, Charlotte MacKechnie, shares money-saving tips to get the most out of your student loan or monthly budget whilst studying at Birkbeck.  

  1. UNiDAYS 

UNiDAYS is a free service that you can sign-up to using your student email address that ends in .ac.uk, at myunidays.com. After signing up to the website, you will have access to ongoing and limited discounts. My favourites include £10 off £75 at Ikea, discounted Pure Gym memberships, and a 6-month free Amazon Prime Student trial (then 50% off Amazon Prime).  

I love UNiDAYS because… you can use your UNiDAYS ID on your phone to access discounts in store. No more being caught out by not having your student card with you! 

  1. Tesco Clubcard 

This free loyalty card for the British supermarket, Tesco, allows you to unlock in-store and online discounts that are exclusively available for Clubcard members. Not only do you unlock deals, but you also collect points every time you shop; you can turn these points into Tesco vouchers, or you can put them towards rewards such as vouchers for Pizza Express, the RAC, and Disney+. Sign up at Tesco.com. 

I love Tesco Clubcard because… I love the scanning my Clubcard prior to paying in-store, so that I can see how much money I have saved! 

  1. Download Microsoft Office 365 – for free!

To download Microsoft’s entire Office suite for free, you’ll need to sign up using your .ac.uk student email address at Office.com. After logging in, you’ll be guided through downloading and installing the software, plus you’ll also get 1TB free OneDrive online storage. 

I love Microsoft Office 365 and OneDrive because… I can save all my files on OneDrive, and access them from any device! 

  1. Purchase a railcard and save a third on eligible fares

If you anticipate travelling whilst at university – perhaps visiting friends at other unis, or even going home – then I’d definitely recommend getting a railcard. I travelled 300 miles away to attend university, so I started saving after my first return trip home! If you go to thetrainline.com, their railcard finder will help you decide which railcard that is right for you – there’s a card for every age. Added tip: if you sign up to Student Beans, you receive an exclusive discount on student railcards. 

I love having a railcard because… it makes visiting family and friends more affordable! 

  1. Discover free counselling and listening services

University can be a stressful time, and we want you to know that there are free counselling and listening services out there. For example, Samaritans are there for you, 24 hours a day, to help you face whatever you are going through. Also, Birkbeck offer a free, non-judgemental and confidential counselling service, as part of their student well-being services offering.   

I love knowing about the free services available to me because… I know that I am supported! 

More information 




Examining the economy: Forecasting the Osborne’s summer budget

This post was contributed by Charles Shaw, 4th year BSc Financial Economics student, and member of the Birkbeck Economics & Finance Society

Emergency-budgetOn the 8th of July, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will announce his summer budget, and with it the next stage of cuts.

The latest official estimates indicate that the Government will announce an additional £30bn of austerity measures, with substantive cuts in FY 2016 and 2017, to stabilise in 2018 and rebound in 2019. Although the impact of such cuts will largely depend on how they are allocated across UK Government departments, the Chancellor has already signalled that £12bn of these cuts will come from welfare spending.

This should, if delivered, be sufficient to meet the George Osborne’s own key fiscal targets i.e. to have debt falling as a share of GDP in 2016-17 and to achieve a cyclically adjusted current balance in 2018-19 without having to resort to tax rises.

This trenchant commitment to eliminate the deficit by the end of the decade echoes the pledges made in the Conservative Party manifesto, which set out to “balance the books” and to have “the government taking in more than it is spending for the first time in 18 years.”


UK recovery

This is an ambitious task, considering other manifesto-related spending commitments, such as the doubling of the free childcare allowance, Dilnot reforms, extension of income tax breaks for those on minimum wage, and a freeze on VAT, income tax and NI contributions. An additional constraint is the subdued nature of the UK recovery, which so far has meant that growth in tax receipts has been slower than the UK Government anticipated when it set out its fiscal consolidation plans in 2010.

The current macroeconomic outlook is seemingly benign. Aggressive monetary policy has done its job of stimulating demand in the UK and, as tail risks fade, we can continue to expect growth around 2.5% at low inflation, supported by strong tailwinds of cheap oil and weak euro.

The situation in Europe

At the same time, the Chancellor must be keenly aware of the situation – both economic and political – in Europe. Despite the fact that relations between the United Kingdom, the EU and the City of London have become more fraught since 2008, much of the EU’s economic agenda overlaps with United Kingdom’s. What happens in Europe is and will continue to be vitally important to Britain’s economic interests.

We may bear witness to the fact that the moderate recovery in the Eurozone is ongoing, buoyed by the OMT programme, while QE, oil and the euro should continue to add momentum. The latest macroeconomic projections from the staff at the Eurosystem – the monetary authority that is made up of the ECB and the national central banks of the EU Member States whose currency is the euro – indicate that the euro area will see its annual real GDP increase by 1.5% in 2015, 1.9% in 2016 and 2.0% in 2017.


The global economy

So far so good? Not quite. Perhaps economists are by nature pessimistic, but one cannot escape from the fact that recent growth numbers for the global economy have been disappointing. The details of the growth figures should give pause for thought, too. Lost trend output is not regained, not least in developed economies; growth dynamics, in emerging markets and elsewhere, have dampened; ECB could have done much more to stabilise confidence and demand.

The fact that the UK has seen its growth rate shrink does not augur well for prospects of a full recovery. To make matters worse, it has become patently obvious that the lower crude price is less of a driving force for the global economy than had been previously anticipated. Perhaps, against this background of disappointment, the optimists should start to wonder whether a slowdown is under way.

Critics of the Chancellor’s plans say that the scale of the spending cuts set out in the previous Budget significantly exceeds what is required to meet the UK Government’s own fiscal targets. We shall need to wait and see if the summer budget heralds the return of animal spirits.

Find out more

About EFS: Birkbeck Economics & Finance Society promotes informed discussion of economic questions. We aim to be a source of educational and networking opportunities by providing access to high calibre speakers, industry intelligence and leading edge ideas. To become a member, to view the full list of events or to register for a talk please visit our society website at www.BirkbeckEFS.org