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How to save money while still making the most of the season

An exterior photo of Lazeez restaurant.
Image Credit: Caleigh Reid

Summer is supposed to be a time of celebration and relaxation. The beautiful suns rays blanket you in their warmth, inviting you to take a breath of fresh summer air and set aside your worries.

With time off, comes the choice of what to do with it, but with the cost of living rising ever higher, many feel limited. Luckily for all, London is home to countless free and inexpensive options to make your summer memorable without breaking the bank.

Night life is something London does right. The well-known Richmond Row centralizes every bar you could want to go to, with dozens of options, but the price of even a few drinks can do some real damage to your bank account. But maybe going out can be about more than just drinks.

Tilt Arcade Bar, just a short walk away from Covent Garden Market, is a nostalgia bomb. For the low price of $7, you gain infinite access to their sprawling supply of old arcade and console games for the night.

If you are worried that a night out wouldn’t be the same without a few drinks, play a few rounds of Smash Bros 64 against your friends, then get back to me. Even those who didn’t grow up playing games can get sucked into the atmosphere of Tilt. It is a doorway into the memories of times when your only responsibility was hiding your unfinished math homework and beating this level.

For those who imagine their summers full of culture and refined activity, but lack the small fortune required to purchase a single charcuterie board, look no further than the Museum London. Not only do they host rotating art exhibits year-round, but they are also free, with the option to donate.

Looking for more of a local feel? 100 Kellogg Lane, often called The Factory, hosts a yearly art competition with over $200,000 in prizes available. Starting in late May, you can view the exhibit for free and even vote on your favourite pieces.

Elijah Bailey, who worked at the location for years, said, “They just put incredible art pieces on every wall across the whole facility. You just walk around and see everyone’s hard work and then you can even vote. They have all kinds of shopping in the building too, as well as trampoline and virtual reality rooms for pretty reasonable prices.”

“The cost of living is becoming unsustainable for many, especially while trying to budget for entertainment.”

Wouldn’t it be a shame to not make use of the great weather? All summer long, Victoria Park, located in the centre of downtown London, hosts festivals of all kinds. Nearly every single weekend there is something going on with food vendors, craftsman selling their art, and live music. Take a walk, listen to the music, and enjoy the sounds and smells of dozens of cultural dishes being made.

With plans set for a night out and for the daytime, all that is left is to find some great food to have in-between. While food prices have been skyrocketing, some local restaurants have been pushing back with student specials or budget friendly options.

Lazeez Shawarma, located on Richmond Row, is one of the only places in the city where you can get a meal and a drink for $6.99, so long as you have your student card on you.

Traditionally spit roasted meats, crunchy, fresh, and pickled vegetables, and a healthy serving of their addictive garlic sauce are loaded into a pita before going on a mini charcoal grill to toast. Pay an extra dollar and have the pita switched out for a bed of Middle Eastern style rice.

When summer savings and food enter the same conversation, it is only so long before someone brings up growing your own food, as if anyone has the space or time. While community gardens are a great option for many, it isn’t always a realistic goal.

If your green thumb has yet to bud, consider the farmers market section at Coven Garden Market. Hit their clearance shelves for phenomenal fresh produce that discounted just because it was an odd shape.

Or better yet, dip a toe into the waters of home gardening by starting with a windowsill spice garden. A single potted mint plant will make sure that your lemonade is unbeatable, and some fresh basil can make summer pesto go from a meal to the highlight of your week.

The cost of living is becoming unsustainable for many, especially while trying to budget for entertainment. Going to events, eating good food, and experiencing new things isn’t just fun for. It is nourishing in ways we can’t always track, but that doesn’t make it less valuable.