10 Budgeting tips to survive college
1. Put pen to paper
Write down all of your sources of money and all the things you expect to have to fork out for. Don’t forget costs like transport alongside rent, food and books. In essence your making a budget.
Being aware of how you spend your money can also show you where you could be saving, such as cutting down on coffees or making your own sandwiches.
2. Organise your income
While expenses will crop up on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, your income may come in a lump sum. If you get a grant, for example, it will arrive in large amounts over the academic year. You need to manage that money and make it, along with other sources of income such as part time or summer work, “elastic”, i.e. make it stretch for as long as possible.
It can be a good idea to put the money to cover your rent into a separate account that you don’t touch on a day-to-day basis. That way you know how much you have left to spend for the rest of the term.
Divide up any money you have left so you know how much you have to spend each week. Whether income is in the form of a loan, parental contribution, bursary or wages know where it’s coming from before it arrives. Work out how it breaks down week-by-week or term-by-term.
3. Maximise your income
Some students have a job while they study. But you shouldn’t work too hard, say the experts. Try to keep it to less than 12 hours a week in term time. Full-time work in the holidays can be good for your CV as well as your bank balance.
4. Get help
The college bank branch will most likely have a student advisor. Take advantage of them – the advice will be free and they can help you manage your money better. Ask about free student banking, interest rates and charges, and any student loans they offer. Your student welfare officer, Sam O’Neill will have seen it all before and might be able to help accessing the college hardship fund.
5. Get a discount
Look out for deals; such as special offer haircuts and take advantage of “money off” vouchers, BOGOFs – buy one get one free offers – and student deals in restaurants, bars or at the cinema. Use the student ID card to get money off at your favourite retailers.
6. Learn to cook
Even the college canteen will charge a couple of euro for something you can make yourself in a matter of minutes. Make your own sandwiches, refill your water or juice bottle, nick your granny’s flask and make your own tea / coffee for lunch. Use markets to buy cheap vegetables and fruit, buy own-brand labels in the big stores, buy a decent cookbook in the sale, or at a secondhand shop, and get staples like rice in bulk and you can eat well for €30 a week.
7. Turn unneeded things into cash
Amazon is a great place to buy and sell used textbooks. Worth knowing when faced with a €150 reading list. Auction sites like eBay are also good for getting rid of unwanted Christmas presents or misplaced purchases. If not online, use campus noticeboards and bookshops.
8. Manage your debt
You will be offered student overdrafts; student credit cards and student store cards but think carefully before you accept any of them. 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.
9. Keep tabs on your spending
Bank online, read your statements, look at receipts, save your coppers in a jar, compare prices in the supermarket and don’t take out more than you need from the cash machine. It all helps you keep control of what you’ve got.
10. Avoid unnecessary expenses
Don’t smoke! Obviously, it is bad for your health and is very expensive.
A 20-a-day habit will cost you €11.30 per day, €79.10 per week, €316.40 per month and that’s whopping €4113.20 per year.
When you consider that currently the standard 100% maintenance rate is €2250, you need to ask yourself: can I really afford to smoke?
Car owners – consider the cost of tax, insurance, servicing costs, initial purchase cost, car loan repayments and of course, the rising price of fuel at the pump. Yes, you may love your runaround but can you really afford it when you are a struggling student?