One of the biggest issues for third-level students is money – and lack of it! It's easy to splurge at the beginning of term and mid-way through realise that you're running short. It is important to budget from the start; decide how much you can realistically afford to spend each week and work out a budget from that. Remember to include essentials such as food, transport, utility bills as well as financing your hectic social life!
It's particularly easy to over-spend in the first couple of weeks with Fresher's activities and back to college reunions etc. so take care to reign in the spending!
One of the first things you should do when you get to college is open a student bank account. Many banks now offer student deals with free services and reduced loan rates throughout your college life. Shop around for the best deals.
Taking on part-time work can seriously inhibit students' performance at college and remember you need to make the most of your short time there. Unfortunately the financial reality dictates than many students need to take on part-time jobs to make ends meet. Students' flexibility makes them an attractive employee for many businesses, especially in the service industry and there are plenty of jobs out there if you get searching. It's also a good opportunity to get experience in a field relevant to your course. Wait until you have your college timetable before committing to any hours and remember, whether you have 4 hours a week or 40 hours a week of classes, you will need a lot of time outside of that for assignments and study – and don't forget that socialising is a huge part of college life. You don't want to be always stuck working while all your friends are out having a good time!
Food can often become relegated to the bottom of the essentials pile, especially if you're living independently, but a steady diet of junk food will soon get boring not to mention unhealthy. If you're living in rented accommodation with friends, try sharing groceries and cooking responsibilities. Bulk buying will cut down on cost and taking turns with the cooking will save a lot of hassle.
Don't leave the lights on. Use both sides of printed paper. Get a bike not a car. Being green keeps bills down as well as helping the planet!
Books can be a huge expense at the start of the college year. There is no need to buy every book on the reading list however, as often these are provided in the library. Instead you can photocopy relevant chapters and if a book is in demand, it is often put in reserve in the library which means that you have access to the book at any time, and it will never be out on loan. If you do have to buy books search out second-hand books rather than new ones. Some colleges provide a second-hand book shop or service; otherwise try placing an advert on college noticeboards listing the titles that you are looking for.
You don't have to go out every night of the week…even if everyone else seems to! College clubs & societies are a great way to take up a new interest and meet new people. You can join any society for around €2 (depending on the college) and have access to their activities and facilities for the year. There are endless subsidised social activities organised throughout the college year, so it's a cheap way of getting that sparkling social life you always wanted! Just beware on clubs and socs day; all the clubs will have their best flirts out to lure you into signing up! It can get quite expensive by the end of the day if you find yourself signed up to 10 different clubs which you will never see for the rest of the year – You won't have time to do everything so stick with one or two!
Remember to take advantage of student discounts where you can. You will be bombarded with student offers and deals throughout the year so whittle out the good ones and remember it's only cheaper if you were going to buy it anyway!
- Don't forget – other students are always a good source of tips and tricks so get talking to them!
- If you are experiencing financial difficulties – or are worried that you might – go to your Students' Union for advice.
For Further Information