Tag Archives: money


It’s been nearly a week, and the bathroom still smells strongly of radishes. It must be the cleaning solution… or… or something?

At any rate, my jeans are drying on the line in the warmest, breeziest spot. I’m very pleased, as I expected them to take about three days to dry, and it looks like I just have to wait until tomorrow morning for them to be ready. Washing them was a beast.

But I should explain. Here in London, everything is expensive and all the students are about 40% poorer than they are in the states–needless to say, tight budgets all around. My budget seems to be tighter than most (about ¬£1,500), so to save a little money, I’m washing all my laundry by hand using the powdered soap I found at the nifty little 99p Store.

Almost every day, I take my dirty laundry into the shower. I tried asking about using the kitchen sink, but the security guard was mortified.

“No,” he said. “You must use the laundry. You can’t use the kitchen sink to wash your clothes! People need to use that!”

A shirt, a t-shirt, and my jeans.

A shirt, a t-shirt, and my jeans.

Him saying nothing about the bathroom and me not wanting to force the matter, I decided to just roll my things up into a little bundle and take them there. After a couple days, I usually only have a few things to wash, and nothing very soiled.

The shower actually seems like it was made for me to do laundry in. I step up a few steps, and the stall itself is actually set into the floor about four inches, plenty of depth for soaking clothes.

I wear my underwear into the shower to wash it, and for the rest I wrap this nifty little kit together (to hide the soap from the cameras in the hallway; no need to push it with security!):

Soap, a regular towel I got for free from my advisor, and my shammy, for drying clothes.

Soap, a regular towel I got for free from my advisor, and my shammy, for drying clothes.

I stop the plug using whatever is at hand–socks, clothes I’m not scrubbing, or my favorite, a used Pringles cap. Once everything is done washing, I rinse and then wring everything out in the shammy.

This usually all takes place during the evening, when people are going out and not using the showers. I suppose it must sound strange for someone to walk in and hear clothes being kneaded in a basin of water behind the shower door, but no one has complained yet!

Once everything has been wrung, I hang it all on the clothesline by my window.

Voilà! Clean clothes for free!

I'm glad I only have to wash my jeans once every week or two. I don't think I could take it if they needed more.

I'm glad I only have to wash my jeans once every week or two. I don't think I could take it if they needed more.



A little over $1,500 seems like a small amount to take to London, considering what everyone has been telling me ( “London is so expensive,”

“I starved my last couple of weeks,”

“Kyle blew like five thousand dollars on his trip”

“I would look at my bank account and cry” ),

so I’ve been trying to think of ways to supplement my part-time income. For example: my want ad on craigslist. it also occurred to me that I am very good at fixing computers–

or at least reasonably good. So there’s another service. Also, eBay and selling used books.

It just seems so difficult to return from a semester in London without a tremendous amount of credit card debt. I mean, I could busk on the street if I knew an instrument, but I’m just so lazy. If only pretty pictures were an instrument. Or I could set up a boombox on the sidewalk and pretend to play something (THIS IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA).

But what it really comes down to is being as frugal as I would if I were here and poor. So I figure I should make a plan, unlike most times when, I have recently realized, I have a tendency to wing it (in fact, sticking to rigid plans doesn’t usually work for me. I usually end up with indigestion):

1. stay in-country. Most people I’ve spoken to have inadvertently (or perhaps intentionally) blown most of their money on trips out of the country. While it makes sense to spend a lot on something you don’t think you’ll ever get a chance to do again, I do need to keep myself fed on the weekends. I figure: the UK is a beautiful country, filled with enough places to explore that I can really get a good trip in without having to fly to Munich for Oktoberfest. Besides, I have this travel bug, see, and I suspect this won’t be my only time seeing the world.

2. nick food from the dining hall if at all possible (is he joking, is he joking?)

3. do all my laundry by hand: not as hard as you would imagine, and actually sort of fun. Let’s just hope there’s a heater in my room to dry the clothes.

4. ferret out all the last-minute deals, freebies, and cheap entertainment I can get a hand on.

5. when bad comes to worse, write about how depressed I am sitting in a dorm room while the rest of the crew is out seeing Rome or Amsterdam, then realize I can go see an ancient Anlgo-Saxon battlefield that no one visits for the cost of a cheap bus fare, and feel better.

6. come to think of it, take advantage of Amsterdam during the ten-hour layover I have there during my flight home in December.

But while this plan has its merits, I would still like to splurge on stuff once in a while. So if anyone needs their lawn mowed, or a computer problem fixed, or a wall painted, or any conceivably valuable service performed…