Budgeting for the Modern College Student

Unfortunately, it’s the time of year where college is starting again, your hours get cut at work, and you’re suddenly living with half of what you were originally making. On top of modern rent prices and cost of living, you’re supporting yourself in a country that may not necessarily seem like it’s there to help you. These are my best budgeting tips to live well during the academic year from a student who has done it all.

Number one: food shopping. This is generally one of your biggest expenses as a student. Think about it like this; you’re often spending about 8 euros on lunches in college, not including snacks and coffee. Then, if you’re not feeling up to making dinner, you can spend upwards of 25 euros to order food. Allow a ten euro budget for coffee and snacks as well. That’s 43 euros a day. If you make 200 euros a week, working 20 hours, your food is costing more than what you make in a week.

Do yourself a favour – go grocery shopping. Aldi, Lidl, and even Dunnes (who give out 10 euros off 50 euros on groceries coupons, as well as 5 off of 20 euros). Don’t bother with the ‘oh, that might be fun to cook’, but instead, go for the food that you know you’ll cook because it’s quick and easy. The prepackaged rice that you can throw in the microwave is fantastic with some cheap chicken breast and a sauce of your choice. It may not be exciting, but it’s filling and cheap. 

Or, start meal prepping. Everyone has been raving about meal prepping recently – but for good reason. It’s incredibly easy and cost-efficient. Make two different dishes for the week and put the leftovers in the freezer (or fridge, depending on what you’ve made). Then, either your lunch or your dinner, or both, are taken care, for the price of a single meal.

Number two: transport. Do not do what I did throughout college and think that there was no price difference between the adult and student leap card. There is. Over time, your costs for transport to and from college, to and from city centre, add up and you’re spending almost 30 euros a week on transport. But, with TFI recently dropping their fares and introducing a ‘Young Adult’ leap card, it’s significantly easier to travel cheaply. I suggest you use it. Student leap cards are eligible for all students, including mature students. Your fares can be up to 50% cheaper, depending on where you’re heading.

Number three: student card and student discounts. Take advantage of your student card – more places offer student discounts than you realise. Many companies such as Urban Outfitters, Boots, JD Sports, Spotify, and more offer student discounts. Save your money. Sign up for a service like UNiDAYS that keeps you informed about where you can use your student discount.

Also, sign up for a student card from ISIC Ireland. It’s recognised within the EU and you can use it anywhere you decide to travel, instead of individual university student cards. You can even look at the places that will accept your student card. Take a look at the discounts available to you at https://www.isic.org/discounts/.

Number four: student nights. Go out on student nights. I can’t stress this enough – there are so many cheap pubs and bars and clubs that do student nights regularly. Download Vipsy, an app where you can see the events and student nights happening in double and score free entry into the bar or club before a certain time. Don’t waste your time paying 6 euros for a pint on a Saturday night – because you’ll spend more money than you always anticipate you will. For more information on cheap nights out and saving money while getting your pints, click here.

Hopefully, you found a bit of this information helpful. And lastly, feel free to make a budget. It sounds dumb and it’s hard to stick to for the first while, but you will get to a point where it’s easier and less stressful. And don’t be so concerned about saving money. I wish someone told me this: but it’s impossible to save money as a college student with the modern living cost crisis. So, enjoy your pint, but enjoy it on a student night.

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