Living on £5 a week in London.

With the student loan still some weeks away, even paying £1.50 for the bus is heartbreaking. Budgeting has to begin. Which is why, when I look at the near minus numbers of my bank account, I decide that I can (must) live a full week in London on £5 alone.

I begin by doing a weekly “shop”, but with only £5 to my name, I come to the harsh reality that the hummus and breadsticks have to be swapped out for bread and butter. I can now only afford the staples; bread (50p for a white loaf), a jar of curry sauce (£1), and a bag of frozen chicken breasts (£1.50 on special at Tesco). The key is to not limit yourself to one shop. Browse through all the leading supermarkets, and don’t be afraid of those pound shops because they will be your saving grace.

It may not seem like I have a lot of food but desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m not prepared to be a freegan so I contend with toast for breakfast, skip lunch and eat curry for dinner. It’s not a lot but it has to do, and now I have £2 left to spend, “Don’t spend it all in one place” I hear my mother saying.

Travel is a huge part of living in London. If you want to go anywhere outside of your district you either need to throw yourself in front of a tube for compensation or pay £1.50 for the bus – either one does not end well. But luckily I am gifted with legs. Two (not so) long sticks of flesh that carry me from A to B. Since moving to London I’ve learned all about the magic of my own legs and how they can quickly turn a £1.50 journey into a free ride. Granted it takes twice the time but at no expense what’s the harm in a bit of exercise?

So with food and travel covered there’s only one more student aspect to discuss: the sesh. Luckily I have some leftover vodka in my fridge from the last sesh I attended (when I actually had money) so pre’s are sorted. A top tip is to always save (or steal) drinks from your previous pre’s to eliminate the possibility of not having any alcohol when you run out of money. But London is a city where most nightclubs cost a minimum of £5 to get in, and that’s on a good night, so where do I go? Luckily Heaven is free on a Friday and G-A-Y has £1.80 drinks Sunday to Thursday. So, really, my struggle is choosing between whether to spend my remaining £2 on a drink at G-A-Y or food after Heaven.

And at the end of the week, I look down at the remaining 20p in my hand. G-A-Y won the battle, although I may have also gone to Heaven for free on Friday. But it goes to show that although London is an expensive city to live in, it is also doable on a budget.

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