Making the most out of student life on a budget

Young people’s tips for students living on a budget.

Written by Clare Herbert


Rather than sacrificing your academic success or more importantly, stunting your college experience by working part-time, contributor Clare Herbert reckons it pays to live cheap.

Off the rails

Match the River Island trends with Penny's prices. You won’t sacrifice the fashion if you wear them with style, individuality and pride.

Only shop on sales racks. You will be absolutely amazing by what gets left over for sales time. People with money can be idiots and often leave the best bargains to be discovered by patient scavengers.

Invest in more timeless pieces, such as a funky jacket and a decent pair of jeans.

Try the kids' section if you can get away with it, even if only for hair bobbins and funky bags.

Ladies, I’d also recommend venturing into the fella’s department for some items. Jumpers that are big, baggy, cosy and comfy will keep you toasty, at less than the women’s prices. Gimmicky socks are another cent-stealer.

The grub stuff:

Don't buy water. My pet peeve! Bring a bottle of tap water, drink it and ask to have it refilled. I have never been refused. All water is extensively and expensively treated before coming out of our taps.

Keep lunching out as a treat, not a habit. Paying for sandwiches and drinks everyday gets mighty expensive, so buy yourself a lump of cheese, bread and sandwich bags, and make yourself twice the food for half the price.

Eat well, but on the cheap. Bags of nuts, fruit and yogurts as well as beans and wholemeal bread are healthy and cheap.

Let me entertain you:

Go easy on the booze. Keep your priorities straight 'cause being sick is damn expensive too.

Don’t buy newspapers or magazines. Read them online or in the library. Libraries are great; books can be borrowed for next to nothing and free Internet is often provided. If not, petition for broadband and insist that the council pays for it.

Get your music online or swap among friends. Think of music as an art, rather than as an industry.

Invest in a battery charger. For about €20, you’ll be saving the environment and your pocket in the long run.

Get yourself a student travel card if you’re a frequent traveller. They cost just less than 20 quid in most Student Unions and you’ll end up saving loads.

If you’re working, make sure you claim your tax back. Be aware of whatever support or benefits you’re entitled to it and don’t let grants or medical cards go unclaimed. Apply for every grant, scholarship and bursary going. You might just be the lucky one.

Be very wary of student loans, credit cards and anything else that tries to solve all life’s problems with a financial answer. Young people are easy targets, so don’t be the gullible one.

Be aware, as you shop. Know and demand your rights, avoid impulse buys and scavenge for bargains.

Scrimping is all well and good, but everybody has one thing that truly excites them. Whether it is music, films, books, games, Lego or toenail polish, whatever makes your heart quicken, is worthy of some (controlled) investment. Allow yourself the odd indulgence.

Those in more serious financial difficulties will benefit from contacting MABS for advice.

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