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Money (Mono)mania

Roar writer Alex Blank gives our readers her best money-saving tips if cooking isn’t your thing, but eating out isn’t an option. 

I moved to London last year, and I was spending inordinate amounts of money from the very beginning. Although my first fruitless year resulted in dropping out of university and having to build myself up from scratch, my “new start” hasn’t made me any wiser – I decided to stay in London and began my studies at King’s. In order to make up for my first-year profligacies, this time around I made saving money a priority.

I happen to be in a rather privileged position where I don’t have to worry about money as much as I actually do, so in my case trying to save as much as I can, hunting for discounts, and trekking to Aldi has become more of a game, a pastime, rather than a necessity. I am convinced, however, that the lightheartedness of it is what keeps me going. That would be my advice before I plunge into my Tips and Tricks: make saving fun. (As sad as that may sound.)

I do save a lot of money on not drinking and going out much. I know it’s not for everyone, but money-wise it’s one advantage us massive introverts have over the rest of you.

Another thing helping me save is flipping the Dickensian tradition over and walking everywhere in the daylight. I live relatively close to campus, and I don’t use the tube at all, so I stroll (or furiously outpace the London crowds) everywhere. I pride myself on being a loafer.

A noteworthy life-saver in terms of food is Olio, an app where people give away their things away – both food and non-food items – for free. So far, the best thing I managed to get was a 1Kg bag of tropical granola. The app also works with various cafes and restaurants, which give away their leftover food to so-called Food Waste Heroes, who later distribute the items on the app. Those such as myself, who hate cooking and want as little to do with it as possible, can grab a sandwich (or three) for free. I get food from Pret a Manger through Olio quite regularly, about once a week. I can’t anticipate if there will be any opportunities or not, as it’s not always regular, so I still have my own meal plan in place, but I’m always on the lookout.

If you are the social type, the app might be good for meeting new people, too. I myself happened to get a bag of simits as well as a Planet Organic sandwich from a very good-looking individual—but my withdrawn nature led me to apologise awkwardly for always being early, grabbing the items and disappearing instantly.

Let’s not forget about another food waste app, Too Good to Go, where the food is not completely free, but if you’re lucky, you get food that can last you an entire day for £2.59. Once I got three sandwiches, a bag of four jam doughnuts, and a Belgian bun from Greggs, with a literal and symbolical cherry on top of it.

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