Your Saving Tips
For some, saving for college can be part of the journey of getting to college. There is no easy way to financially prepare for college, but when you decide to go on this journey you will realise it is the best decision you have made. Here are some useful tips and links to resources to help you along the way. Check out the ‘Funding College’ section to find out more about the financial supports available during your college journey.
10 Top Saving Tips
It’s always a good idea to write down all of your sources of money and all the things you expect to have to fork out for.
Don’t forget to include costs like:
When you are aware of how you spend money, it can also show you where you could be saving, like cutting down on coffees or making your own sandwiches for lunch.
Check out the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, (MABS) easy-to-use budget management tool.
While there will be unexpected expenses that crop up over time, it is useful to try to organise the money going out with the money that you have coming in. If you get a maintenance grant, for example, it will arrive into your bank account in monthly payments over the academic year. You need to manage this money and make it, along with other sources of income such as part time or summer work, stretch for as long as possible.
It is useful to separate your expenditure into two categories.
The first is ‘needs’. This category would include the weekly or monthly expenses that you know are set, which include:
- Utility bills (like gas and electricity)
The second is ‘want’ this category would include the additional expenses that are more flexible. They would include elements of your social life as well as the coffee that you might splurge out on.
Whatever college you go to there is always someone to talk to about your finances. Seek out the student advice office or speak to the reps in the students union.
Even with a student grant college can be an expensive time. If it is possible, working a part time job can ease some of the (possible) financial strain. If you are able to work, remember to try and reach a balance between work, study and rest. Try to keep it to less than 12 hours a week in term time. Full-time work in the holidays can be tax free (you may be able to claim your tax back, if you do not earn enough throughout the year) and good for your CV as well as your bank balance.
Make sure your CV is up to date and ready for employers. Talk to the people in the Careers Office – they are always willing to help.
In any college you decide to attend, there is always someone to talk to. If you are in need of support, make sure to get it. The sooner you reach out for the support the quicker the situation can be managed.
Once you have your student card in your hand, you have access to discounts and student deals. There are a number of great local deals such as cheaper cinema tickets, and buy one get one free offers.
Check out the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) to get great discounts and offers.
Get the app to get online discounts.
You don’t have to become a chef, but it would be worth your while to learn how to cook.
It doesn’t have to be Michelin star quality, it just has to keep you full, lean on the healthy side and taste like you want to eat it!
Use markets to buy cheap vegetables and fruit, buy own-brand labels in the big stores, and buy a decent cookbook in the sale, or at a second-hand shop. Get staples like rice in bulk and you can eat well for €30 a week.
While learning how to cook, you are saving money because you don’t have to eat out to have tasty treats.
When you are on campus, why not make your own sandwiches, refill your water or juice bottle, nick your granny's flask and make your own tea or coffee for lunch.
Check out this great MABS cook book with 101 tasty meals.
During your first days of college you will be offered student bank accounts with amazing deals attached. Be careful to read the small print. Even though having an overdraft can be handy, banking is a big business. A low-interest overdraft can be a useful tool to help stretch the term's money but watch the fees and the interest rate. An introductory offer of a 0% interest credit card can also be useful for paying off big-ticket items or short-term borrowing, but don't keep money on it for longer than the 0% offer lasts – you will then be hammered with interest!
If you don't have a 0% card, remember to include the card repayments in your monthly budget.
Keep control of what you've got by:
- Banking online
- Reading your bank statements
- Looking at receipts
- Saving your coppers in a jar
- Comparing prices in the supermarket
- Only taking out what you need from the cash machine.
Keep a spending diary so as to keep tabs on what you spend your money on, you will be shocked at what you ‘waste’ your money on. Here is a link to a useful Spending diary.
If you review your budget every month, it can help you stay on track with your finances. A budget is a forecast of what will happen. Take the time to go back and recount what actually did happen.
- Where did you overspend?
- Where did you save?
- What can you do differently next month?
While it’s important to review your budget every month, you’ll also probably need to recalculate your budget every 3-6 months, or whenever something changes dramatically in your financial life.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be boring or draining. Have fun. Find activities in your area that are free. Use the amenities around you. Go for a walk or play football with friends.
- Citizens Information — www.citizensinformation.ie/en
- Free Legal Advice Centres — http://www.flac.ie
- Its Your Money — www.ccpc.ie/consumers/money
- Money Advice and Budgeting Service — www.mabs.ie/en
- Residential Tenancies Board — www.rtb.ie
- Student Finance — www.hea.ie/funding-governance-performance/funding/student-finance
- SUSI Grant — www.susi.ie
- Threshold — www.threshold.ie