There’s no doubt that not only London is extremely expensive, but it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world. Yet, actors still choose to move here, wait tables, live on the cheap in London and struggle while pursuing their dreams.
Fortunately, it is possible to live cheap in London if you make some really smart choices, educate yourself and plan ahead. We’ve provided some budgeting tips before, in articles on what to do before moving to London, everything on moving to London, living in London and budgeting in London. I suggest you peruse those as well.
Living on the cheap in London requires careful planning. This planning starts way before you make your trip and involves a big dose of effort, motivation and perseverance. Once you know how to carry yourself in the city, what to expect and where to go, it will be easy to save money and not sacrifice your comfort.
If you’re moving to London for acting, I recommend you read these articles as well:
- How to Find Survival Jobs in London
- 9 Best Neighborhoods in London for Actors
- 5 Tips on How to Move to London With Pets
- How to Eat Out in London on a Budget?
This article talks you through a step-by-step plan where you will end up with a calendar or planner to help you stay on top of your goals and your budget.
SEE THIS: 2017 London Acting Training Directory
1-Year Plan to Live On The Cheap In London
1 Plan, Plan, Plan
Yes, this is a plan but you need to have everything written down in advance. Start with a dedicated notebook, Pinboard or spreadsheet, whatever keeps you in check because this one-year plan is going to take some effort and a big dose of discipline. Think about these key questions to work out exactly what you want to achieve during your one year in London.
What are your top 10 goals for your year in London?
Now let’s make sure they are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time related).
Specific – Read through your goals – are they to-the-point? This means does each goal address one thing at a time. For example if Goal One is to “become an actor” this could include hundreds of other goals. Choose the most important of these smaller goals instead. For example, Goal One is to “become confident in screen acting.”
Measurable – This brings us on to whether the goals can be measured. Next to each goal, write down how these can be achieved. So for Goal One: to become confident in screen acting, this can be achieved through a workshop or masterclass.
Attainable – Rate these goals from 1 – 10 (1 highest to 10 as the lowest) of how achievable these goals are. If anything is rated, 6 or above, you either need to re-think the goal or cut it. It’s time to be brutal with yourself because you will be thankful later.
Relevant – Whilst travelling across England is a great goal, it might not be 100% relevant to your purpose for living in London. So go through your goals and make sure they truly reflect your reasons for moving to London. This will save you a lot of time and money in the long-run.
Time-related – You might need to do some research here to ensure that the goals you have set will be achievable in that one year. If not, cut or revise.
Step 1 is now complete: You should now have a set of SMART goals of no more than 10 in an organised space, ready for action.
How are you going to fund your year in London? Do you already have a plan? Is it realistic?
Check out our article on £40 a day. This is the minimum amount you need. Yes, you can do it cheaper but realistically, you need to ensure that you can afford forty smackers a day if you need to. So if you’re not planning on supplementing your income somehow, you need £14,600 in the bank and that doesn’t include the cost of any acting classes, workshops or Drama School.
Do you have any savings or are you planning on working?
Perhaps you already have savings or you’re currently saving up right now or perhaps you’re planning on getting a job to help you through. If you’re coming from abroad, check out this page on visa requirements before you go.
How much are your goals going to cost?
So in addition to your daily budget, you need to work out how much extra you’re going to need squirrelled away to cover the cost of your goals. Check out the helpful pages on our site on the kinds of costs you’ll be looking at for things like acting classes and do some research yourself to get an idea of a realistic budget.
Step 2 is now complete: Now you should have an idea of how much money you have, how much more you need and whether you are going to save up first or supplement your funds with paid employment.
3 Creatures of Habit
Keep track of your money every week by making a habit of being on top of your spending. That way, you’ll be prepared for a tight week or month and can take steps to make sure you’re in charge.
The best way to do this is to ensure you have a daily “cash” budget. Either set up a daily direct debit into your spending account or put your daily cash into envelopes only to be opened on the day they are meant. So for this you need two bank accounts: the bills account and the spending account. Keeping money separate, keeps you on top of your finances.
Extra tip: keep your funds for courses, acting classes and unexpected costs in a separate savings account that you can access easily but keeps this money separate from your spending and bills allocations.
Step 3 is now complete: Now this is where it gets tricky as you need to practice this every day for the year! That’s why it’s good to have three separate accounts because if you want to spend more one week by doing a Masterclass, the funds come out of the savings account and not your daily budget.
Some weeks or even months, you’re going to be torn by certain things. Perhaps you’ve met a group of friends who want to go to Amsterdam for a week but your budget would mean you would have to give up your weekly Improv group.
This is the time for tough decisions and you don’t have to make these straight away.
Instead, re-evaluate your savings fund each month and check your spends against your goals. Are you hitting your priorities?
If so, do you have enough cash to take that trip to Amsterdam? If yes, will it benefit your goals?
Step 4 is now complete: You need time set aside each month to re-evaluate where you are with your goals and whether you’re spending your money on activities and events that can help you on the way to your goals.
By now you should have:
- SMART Goals (max of 10)
- A budget
- A plan for managing that budget through making a habit of monitoring your finance
- A day in mind each month to re-evaluate your goals and your budget
Now you need a calendar to visualize all of this material to make it more achievable. After all, if you can see it, you won’t be able to forget about it!
Through your research, you should now have an idea of what is on and when.
For example, you know that The Screen Acting Workshop is in August and that there’s a weekly MeetUp for comedy and improve every month. This is where you need to visualize your planner. Amber Creative Co. has a great ‘planner pack’ along with loads of other helpful tips for just $5 but there’s also hundreds of free templates out there on the web like Calandapedia.
At the end of each month, track your progress with a diary, your pinboard or your spreadsheet and make sure you give yourself credit as well as work out what you still need to work on.
Step 5 is now complete: You should now have a ‘working calendar’ with your first set of planned events. Don’t worry if things change, simply pop a sticker over the top if you’re planning on printing the planner out or amend it if you’re using your laptop. One thing you must make sure is that you look at it regularly!
6 Together We’re Stronger
Getting involved with local theatre, MeetUp groups and masterclasses will help with this and you will probably find a whole bunch of budding actors just like you, trying to stay on top of their goals and their budget. Try to set up a monthly meeting space to talk through goals with your new community.
Not only will it be a social event to look forward to but it might also inspire new ventures and create exciting opportunities.
Step 6 is now complete: make friends with likeminded people!
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