Glenn Dunlea provides some useful tips to make living on a student budget stretch that little bit further.
STUDENT life is THE life. Our parents look at us and want to re-live their own college days. Secondary school students can’t wait to finish their Leaving Certs. so that they can be part of the student scene. Life really should be fine and dandy. But there is one crucial element that hangs over the head of every student: money. Living life on a student budget is tough. It is often the case that a student has to choose between paying enough to make a substantial meal, or saving their coppers to have enough to go out on a night out. But this doesn’t have to be the case. For the budget savvy student, there is always a way to make your money go that extra bit further each week to make sure that you can live your life in style. Or at least out of debt.
There are some very simple ways for students to save money while doing their groceries. Although it may seem cheaper to go out every now and again during the week to buy bits and pieces for individual meals, you would be amazed by how quickly this can lead to soaring expenses. My advice? At the beginning of each week, sit down and make a meal plan. This not only lets you know which ingredients you’ll need to buy, but it will also make sure that you eat at least one solid meal a day. When it comes time to actually go out and buy your groceries, use a voucher. Aldi now provides a voucher in a different newspaper each week, so that when you spend €50 you get €10 off. Other shopping centres such as Dunnes Stores and Tesco also run similar schemes. If you do your shopping with a few of your housemates, then when in comes time to pay you’ll end up saving even more.
- College Supplies
Do not buy every single book on you booklist. Just don’t do it. Please. Departmental booklists can often cost over €100 to buy several books new, and I can guarantee you that you will barely use any of them, if at all. However, I know from personal experience that it can often be handy to have one or two of the more important books in your possession. For example, I implore first year Irish students to buy a second hand copy of An Duaniare. Not only does it contain just about everything that will be covered during the year, but you are also allowed to bring it into the end of year exam, as is, notes and all. And I cannot stress that notes and all bit enough. If you are going to buy some books, then go to the Students Union bookshop. Located in Fidelma’s office on the ground floor, just pass her a list of the books you’re looking for and she’ll tell you if she’s got them or not. You can save immense amounts of money through buying your books second hand, but be sure even before you do that that you really need them. Remember, we have got a fantastic library on campus too, and everything you’ll be asked to buy is in there.
Everyone likes to look good. We all love showing off our new clothes because they make us feel good, and why shouldn’t they? But the question is as students can we always afford to look like we’ve just walked off the cover of Vogue? The simple answer is no, but there are some solutions. Of course the obvious first choice for most on a budget is Penneys. Penneys is great for quick fixes; cheap clothing that is good for a few wears but then disintegrates into a pile of threads before our eyes. My preferred method of acquiring new clothes is one that often sends a shiver down the spines of several people; charity shopping. For the life of me I will never understand the snootiness associated with charity shops. They are fantastic places where you can find unique individual pieces that look great and cost nothing. Tell me where else one would find designer brands for under a fiver? Or a one-of-a-kind sample Levi pullover coat in camel for €3.50? And believe me, you are much more likely to get the compliments we all crave by wearing something no one else has rather than a mass-produced item every other person on campus owns.
- Going Out
Going out isn’t for everyone anyway, so if you’re one of those that would much prefer to stay in on a weekday, then congratulations, you’re already saving yourself a bundle. However, for those of us that are fond of hitting the dance floor of a night out, there are a few things you can do to save a bit of cash for the taxi home. Alright, Tuesdays and Thursdays are student nights. But what do you really gain in spending money to get into a club playing head pounding music so that you can’t have a conversation with anyone and just sweat the night away? Why not head to some pubs instead? Entry is free and you can sit and talk to people. Most pubs now feature live music acts during the week, so if you’re into music and the merging music scene call into some of the pubs around town and see what’s going on. The Rock on College Road has a trad. night every Wednesday, and it’s great craic altogether. Scout out the best venues for you, there is so much on offer that you have absolutely no excuse to come home after a night out and complain about where you’ve just been.