Money Tips For Starting College
With accommodation prices skyrocketing in recent years, most students have to restrict themselves to a tight budget – which we all know is easier said than done. Don’t worry though, you won’t need to sell your organs on the black market to afford that €2.95 for a chicken fillet roll (Yes, it has gone up. Scandalous) There are plenty of ways for students to save money on day-to-day spending.
Arguably the most important part of any Fresher’s expenses and often takes up the largest proportion. Get money from the ATM before going on your night out and try to limit yourself to spending this amount. (Possibly leave the card at home) Physically handing over cash to pay for drinks will be much harder to do than throwing your debit card at the bartender in a drunken haze.
There are plenty of other, cheaper options for a fun night out with friends around Dublin. Cinemas always have great student deals for the latest films. IMC Dun Laoghaire’s Student Tuesday includes ticket, medium popcorn and drink all for €8.50. Or if the idea of a 30 minute journey on the 46a seems too daunting, you have nearby Dundrum with their €9.99 ticket, popcorn and drink deal on a Monday and their €10.00 Student deal on a Tuesday (The exact same ticket / combo offer as Monday, but student card is required. Why the extra cent, we’ll never know) UCD Cinema has excellent prices for students and Film Soc members for movies not too long after they’re released generally. On top of this, the Student Centre have introduced meal deals with the Clubhouse Bar and the Poolside Café for bargains on dinner and movie dates.
Attending college events in general, whether it be a debate or games night, allows you to meet new people and have the craic; so promise yourself you’ll get involved with at least one society / group.
Fuel for your ‘work-hard-play-hard’ college lifestyle, feeding yourself needs to be a top priority. Rather than spending your money in an over-priced café on campus, try a weekly grocery shop in a supermarket. Aldi run a free shuttle bus service to and from UCD for students, which is perfect for stocking your shelves. Preparing your own lunch for the day and bringing plenty of snacks like fruit and cereal bars will help you resist the temptation to buy that chocolate muffin from the Arts Café that has been staring at you all week.
Don’t rush into buying every book on your booklist as soon as you get said list. First off, figure out which ones are actually essential, and which are just ‘recommended’. The latter can be got at the library – just make sure you go in advance of the week everything is due. For the books you definitely need to own, go to your subject’s Facebook page – students in the year above you will always be looking to sell off books they no longer need. Another place to check is Student Union’s second-hand bookshop. You could also log on to bookdepository.com and see if your books are available there. Their prices for new books are usually lower than in the shops, and there’s free delivery.
If you are travelling by public transport, a Student Leap Card is essential. Along with giving you great discounts in hundreds of shops and restaurants around Dublin and online, it means cheaper bus, DART and Luas fare all year round. Better yet, if you are still under 19, you can get a Child Leap Card which caps your spend across all Dublin public transport at €14 a week. There is no shame in still being a kid on public transport when you get those kinds of savings.
With the introduction of permitted parking in UCD this year, it may be a good idea to consider investing in a bike if you live near campus. Not only will you save on parking and petrol, but you’ll also be getting fit before you even reach Belfield.
Once on campus, aside from free fitness classes offered by UCD gym, the Get in Gear programme offers a wider range of classes and activities from ‘Irish Dancing for Beginners’ to Boxercise, along with discounts in food outlets around campus for a reasonable €20 for the semester. Students can also join societies like DanceSoc for only €2 to shake and shimmy those pounds away knowing they still have money in their pocket.
There are plenty of ways to be thrifty throughout the college year. From joining countless societies in order to get discounts on food and clothes, to attending a free Culture Night event rather than ‘Thank F*ck its Monday at Dicey’s’, we can all save a few bucks to tide us over until summer when the Bank of Mammy and Daddy officially re-opens.
Words by by Tara Casey, Features Writer