Do you have a child about to commence third level education? Or maybe you are a student getting ready to embark on your academic journey? If so, ensure sufficient time is set aside to review the finances!
Students listen up!! Making smart decisions now can help avoid financial difficulties creeping in as you settle into college life. Below are some practical tips and tricks to help keep your finances in order throughout your academic journey.
Write down how much cash you have coming in (from part-time work, family support, grants etc.) and what’s flowing out (tuition fees, rent, food etc.). If you are new to budgeting, check out my previous blog post here on creating budgets. There are good online tools to help you prepare a budget. Try out the Budget Planner by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). The CCPC budget planner can be emailed to you after it’s prepared. Having a budget helps you make smart spending choices and keeps you from being broke before the month ends.
Scholarships & Grants
Check out your eligibility for scholarships and grants. Some credit unions award scholarships each year so check out your local credit union to see if they do this. Capital Credit Union is one which have just opened their scholarship competition, click here to read more. There’s also the option of a SUSI grant, click here to check the eligibility criteria. Many universities also offer scholarships, so check out your university website for the scholarships they provide. The Citizens Information website also has a host of information compiled on the various grants for students, click here to read.
Save for the Rainy Days
Start saving early – even if it’s just a few euros a month. You never know when that rainy day will come, and you’ll be glad to have some money tucked away. It’s a little safety net for financial emergencies!
Many shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues offer special discounts just for students! Flash that student ID and watch the savings pile up. From movie tickets to clothing and tech gear, student discounts can help you avoid the full-price cost.
Get Textbook Savvy
Textbooks can be a black hole for your bank account, but you can save a ton by being savvy. Check if you can borrow them from the library, buy second-hand copies from older students, or opt for digital versions.
Be Wary of Credit Cards
Credit cards can be alluring, especially when you’re handed those shiny leaflets with “special offers.” But tread cautiously! Credit cards are not free money; they come with responsibility. If possible, stick with a debit card to stay on top of your spending. No debt dramas, you are just using the money you have. If you do decide to get a credit card, be disciplined, and pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.
Preparation is Key
Eating out for lunch each day in college will be expensive. Prepare a packed lunch to avoid this unnecessary expense. For students living away from home, try batch cooking your evening meals. It is tough after a long day in college and possibly a part-time job on top of that, to then start cooking a meal when you arrive home. If you have meals prepared in advance its simply a case of reheating them in the evening. This will be particularly important when you are 5 to 6 weeks into a semester and suddenly you have numerous assignments due and exams pending. Having nutritious meals prepared in advance will prevent you from going down the takeaway route because you are too tired to cook. However, if you have been frugal all semester and saving regularly, at least you have some money set aside for those busy day’s mid semester when a takeaway is your only option.
Seek Financial Assistance if in Need!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to your finances. Universities will have staff available to offer guidance and support. Reach out to them if you have questions or concerns and they can direct you to available financial supports. If you are experiencing financial difficulty, the student assistance fund is available for both fulltime and part-time students who run into financial difficulties while attending college, click here to read more about this.
Remember, financial responsibility doesn’t have to be dull – it’s about making informed choices and setting yourself up for financial stability throughout your academic journey.
Best of luck with your studies!