Day-to-day money advice for college students
There are loads of easy ways to manage your money when you’re at college.
When you’re starting college, there are lots of upfront expenses. But after these are out of the way, you’ll need to think about the day-to-day costs of college life. If you’re not sure where to start, these tips could help you…
1. Draw up a weekly budget for college
If you are taking out a loan for college expenses, or you’ve been working through the summer to fund your college year, you’ll be starting off September with a lump sum.
It might seem like this will never run out, but without careful budgeting, you could find yourself burning through it quicker than you’d like.
Figure out how many weeks you’ll be at college for, and then work out how much you’ll have per week from your loan/savings/part-time work. Next, deduct any expenses you’ll have, like travel, food, rent, and bills. Hopefully you’ll then have a buffer for things like socialising!
2. Work with your housemates to get the best deals
If you’ve moved out of home, you’ll be facing the prospect of household bills for the first time.
At the moment, there’s a difference of €318 between standard gas and electricity prices and the cheapest deals on the market, so sit down with your housemates and choose the cheapest energy deal.
Next, decide together what you want to do about your broadband and TV. There are loads of broadband and TV deals on the market, but if you all watch Netflix and aren’t too bothered about normal TV, you’ll save by going for a broadband-only bundle.
There are even contract-free broadband deals available now - Like Virgin Media’s Freedom plan - so you don’t need to be tied down.
3. Avoid the takeaways and make your own lunches
To make your money go further, get into the habit of doing a weekly shop, so you can make your own food at home.
Convenience food may not seem that expensive, but all those chicken fillet rolls soon add up, so you will definitely save by bringing in your lunches.
If you’ve moved out of home, see if you can get into a cooking rota with your housemates - shopping for a few people at the same time can often work out cheaper than everyone buying their own food for dinners.
Then, everyone could cook one or two evenings a week, which means you’ll all get a few cooking-free days, and you’ll avoid the pricey takeaways, too.
4. Use the library where possible
The first few days of lectures can be a bit of a whirlwind, and you’ll probably get a load of reading lists from different lecturers. Remember, you don’t need to rush out an buy all these books straightaway - checking your college’s library to see if any of them are available could save you a packet.
5. Pick the right bank account
All of the main banks will be vying for your attention around campus, so it’s important to make sure you pick the right account for you.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s student account comparison is a big help - you can compare fees, charges and interest across all of the student accounts in the market and and decide which suits you best.
6. Use your student discount as much as possible
You’ll get your student card on one of your first days in college and, believe it or not, it’s your ticket to discounts on food, clothes, and tickets, amongst other things.
The likes of H&M, Topshop, and New Look all offer discounts to students, and you can get meal deals in loads of restaurants, too.
Your student card will also be your ticket to a Student Leap Card, which can save you 20-25% on Dublin Bus, Luas, Bus Eireann and Irish Rail services. So no excuses for not visiting home!