Conor Shields tells us how to achieve the impossible - not go broke during college.
You’ve done it. You’re registered, you’ve had your first full week of lectures and you’ve decided that this college craic might just be for you. So now what?
Well, one of the most enjoyable aspects of college life is the amazing social opportunities that can come with having such a (hopefully) flexible timetable. There’s the nights out, trips away, workshops, society events and much much more. This is fantastic time in your life so get out and enjoy it!
...Well that is until you open your wallet and realise you have €5 to last you the week after you pay off your rent, bills, loan from mam, etc. Unfortunately, managing your money becomes quite the priority while you’re a full-time student. One cost has an equal - usually more devastating - effect on another and you can sometimes leave yourself living on nothing but boiled rice for a week.
Budgeting is an extremely important tool for those living away from home or working a small number of hours a week. A sound fiscal plan per week can help highlight that extra few quid that’s hiding under expensive food costs (Marks & Spencers microwave dinners? The notions!)
Here are some super savings tips to help ease the aching wallet…
1. Make a budget Bible.
Having something physical is always nicer than the digital version. Instead of an Excel sheet or notes on your phone, buy a cheap diary/notebook and defend it with you life. It’s so much easier to update regularly and having the physical reminder can help reinforce your commitment to your budget.
2. Buy in bulk.
It will honestly help you down the line. In your first your week, take yourself down to Lidl (it’s better than Aldi) and stock up for the winter! You may be left short for now but it’s worth it down the line. Spotting those back-to-school/college deals early on can nearly shave your costs in half when it comes to toiletries, stationery and basic food. It’s one less thing on your shopping list from here on out and who doesn’t want 50 packets of instant noodles stacked in your press.
3. Burrito maths is still maths.
As much as one loves nothing more than to get stuck into beef and black bean burrito bowl, a few of those in one week can throw you off your balance sheet in no time, and remember that all that guac is unfortunately extra. If you think about it, two full burritos can set you back the same amount as your entire week’s food shopping. A treat is always nice, but that’s what it should be…a treat.
4. Set positive targets for yourself.
Each week, you should be setting realistic savings targets which you can actively work towards. It doesn’t matter if it’s €10 or €1, as long as you actively try to reach your target, you are less likely to overspend on your budget and avoid eating into your savings. If you break it down, saving €1 from now until Christmas will be enough pay your entry fee and cloakroom charge on Stephens’ night!
5. Resist the bad influences!
On paper, this all sounds fantastic and we’re all gonna become the next Eddie Hobbs by October. But we all know our breaking points and for the majority of us, all it takes to lose control is a simple, “Ah sure we’re all going out!”. Planning is half the battle. The real test is to fight the urge to splurge. FOMO is always a killer, but it’s better than being broke or worse, in debt. Now, I’m not saying to stay in every night and play Scrabble with your housemates (if they’re not out too that is). It’s about knowing what you can afford and what suits your weekly limit. To not to say yes to every “unreal” night out that’s put forward. Unfortunately there are always others who are going to have more disposable income than yourself and that can be a kick in the teeth, but that’s life. But remember, one incredible night is always better than five mediocre ones.
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