Congratulations! You’ve made it through gruelling exams and summer back at home with your parents and you’re finally ready to embrace college life again. While it’s an exciting time for most students, it can also be a time of uncertainty and financial anxiety. But look no further, below is a comprehensive guide to heading back to college, including the best student deals, where to find

First up, how to save money. College is an expensive time for us all, and with reducing hours in work and the SUSI grant just not stretching far enough as we try and manage the cost of living crisis, every little helps.

TRAVEL: unless you’re lucky enough to live on campus accommodation, you’ll be travelling to and from college every day. For some students, this can be their most expensive monthly outgoing but there are ways to reduce the cost.

– If it’s an option for you, consider cycling. If you can borrow or buy a second-hand bike for cheap, you’ll get an environmentally friendly double whammy of free exercise and free transport.

– If cycling is not an option, public transport is a great alternative. While it can be expensive, student and young adult leap cards are a life-saver. They offer a 50% discount to cardholders. Those who use Dublin Bus will have their cap set at 11 euros per week. A saving you can’t afford to miss!

FOOD: Whether you’re in student accommodation cooking for yourself or living at home and want the best deals for your takeaways, there are savvy ways to save money on food this semester.

– Buying daily meals can add up to an eye-watering amount of money every week. Purchasing your own groceries and meal prepping for the week is the most effective way to stay within your budget. Aldi and Lidl are your best friends (their drink selection is much cheaper than the average off-license). Batch cooking dishes like pasta bakes, stews, and stir-fries are cheap, filling, and can easily be reheated in your student spaces which hopefully have microwaves.

– If you fancy treating yourself to a takeaway, Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and Just Eat offer up to 50% off for new students who sign up for their apps, so keep an eye out! Alternatively, the UniDays app offers not just discounts on clothing and electronics for students, but they also have great restaurant deals to avail of, such as 20% off YO! Kitchen and 30% off at Milano Sunday-Thursday when you dine in, great!

Below are a few of the best places offering great student deals.

– The Apache student meal offers a small pizza, chips, and a bottle of water for just 4.99 euros.

– Luigi Malones offer a great lunch deal, with a pizza or pasta dish and a soft drink for just 9.50 euros.

– The McDonald’s student meal deal is back, at only 6 euros for a medium meal, and only 60c extra for a large if you show your student card.

– Captain Americas offer a main meal, hand-cut chips, and a soft drink for just 10.95 to customers with a valid student ID.

– Arguably the best student-friendly deal is 2 for 1 pizza and cocktails at Little Pyg Monday-Sunday!

BOOKS – As we all know, most of our modules have accompanying core textbooks, and they usually are swiped from the library before most of us get a chance to even have a look. But these books often aren’t cheap.

– It goes without saying that a great alternative is to buy them second-hand from second-hand bookshops, eBay, or Amazon, but surprisingly, Depop has a wide variety of textbooks for sale at extremely low prices, who would’ve thought?

– Alternatively, websites such as Perlego offer a subscription service to gain access to over 900,000 books in PDF format. Audible offers thousands of textbooks in audio format, which is perfect if you are an auditory learner.

Secondly, finding affordable accommodation is difficult, but not impossible. There is support out there for those of us still on the hunt for housing this academic year.

OFF CAMPUS ACCOMMODATION: If you have found yourself fed up with the private rental market, there are certain steps to take to make the process less stressful.

– Private Facebook groups are a great help. They are often set up by college Student’s Unions and allow individuals looking for rooms and roommates alike to advertise their needs within the group. You are certain to find something within your requirements!

– Companies such as UniNest, Unite Students, and LIV student accommodation all offer student rooms on long and short-term leases. While they can be on the pricier side, they often have spare rooms available, are for the most part situated in the city centre and therefore within walking distance of college or transport routes, but they also offer great amenities from gardens, entertainment rooms, 24-hour security and in some cases, on-site catering where you can absolutely get your money’s worth.

– Lastly, if you prefer a home away from home type of environment, staying with a family in Diggs would be a great option for you. Host families will often advertise on Facebook or through your Student’s Union. They are also often much cheaper than student accommodation or private renting!

Good luck in your accommodation hunting. May the odds be ever in your favour.

Lastly, surviving your first few weeks of college doesn’t have to be stressful. Getting back into routine and preparing for the academic year ahead can be a breeze with a bit of planning and discipline.

ROUTINE: Creating a routine and sticking to it can be the greatest act of self-care you do this year. Making time in your day to fit in all your priorities will decrease your anxiety in the long run.

– Creating a good sleep schedule and getting a minimum of eight hours per night will enable you to tackle each day effectively and survive the long hours of lectures and studying.

– Set aside enough time daily to ensure you eat three meals, as nutritious as you can afford.

– Have a realistic work and study timetable and stick to it as best you can. This will avoid last-minute cramming and stressing to meet deadlines.

– Make time to enjoy your society events, hobbies, and socialising. You’re only a student once. We can never get this time back. Have fun and make the most of it!

– With that being said, having boundaries and self-discipline is crucial. If your heaviest college days are Mondays and Wednesdays, it’s wise to avoid having your big nights out on Sundays and Tuesdays. This act of self-preservation will decrease your likelihood of burnout throughout the year.

BUDGETING: This is the easiest way to ease your financial worries and avoid living off of bread and butter until the next SUSI grant comes in.

– Make a list of all your monthly incomings and outgoings and balance the books where possible.

– Be as disciplined with your budget as you can, and be as frugal as you can whilst still enjoying yourself. Future you will be grateful!

Good luck everyone, may you have a great year ahead!

Written by Darragh McKee Mathews