Top Tips on Student Life
Embarking on student life is an exciting step. New surroundings, a new course, new friends and of course a new social life! With all this excitement, student life can sometimes seem a little overwhelming to the new student. Credit union research over the past few years has also shown that student life can come with its financial stresses and other strains, such as juggling work with studies.
There is no need to worry though with our top tips for taking on student life. We hope these will take the stress out of your first term at third level so you can focus on making the most of your new life as a student!
Tip 1 on Student Life – Join your clubs and socs!
During your first week in third level you’ll be inundated with information from every club and society from drama to disc-throwing. Do join the clubs and societies that interest you most and head along to their events and meetings. You’ll meet new, like-minded people and generally have a laugh while broadening your horizons or honing your athletic or creative skills. Involvement in a club or society will be one of the best things about student life, it will stand out on your CV for future employers too.
What’s more, if you take Pricewatch’s advice – then signing up for the biggest and most popular clubs and socs is something to consider, as you’ll benefit from the extra budget they have for social events! Which brings us to Tip 2 on Student Life…….
Tip 2 on Student Life – Follow Pricewatch for money-saving tips that work.
The Irish Time’s Pricewatch column (aka consumer champion Conor Pope) is one to follow to ensure you don’t end up spending unnecessary cash on student life. Not only is his humorous finger on the pulse of current affairs, legislative changes etc. that directly impact you as a consumer, he also provides genuine, practical and effective tips & advice on saving money and making your euro go further. Priceless advice for the new student!
Tip 3 on Student Life - Learn how to cook.
Definitely do. Not only will you save a fortune on take-aways, you will eat healthier and also do your bit for the environment by cutting down on take-away cartons. It’s a student life no-brainer! There are tons of free, student-friendly, quick and nutritious dinner recipes on the internet. What’s more, you’ll impress your new housemates with your tasty creations.
You can also keep the cost down by finding out when your local supermarket reduces their prices on stock and doing your weekly shop at this time. Buy supermarket own-brand, but check out local markets for fruit and veg as you can often find better quality and cheaper prices.
Tip 4 on Student Life – Create a Budget
Yep, we know. There’s nothing exciting about budgeting - and where would you get the time anyway between attending all the club & socs events and whipping up your culinary creations in the kitchen? A budget however will ensure that you’re never strapped for cash, and that you even have a little extra to spend on the social side of student life.
Put a little time aside and write down all the money you have coming in for the month ahead, as well as what you will spend on rent, travel, books, groceries etc. Maybe you have a part-time job or a student grant, consider keeping this money in a separate account that you never touch, specifically to cover your rent or another big monthly expenditure. Gather all the vouchers and coupons you can and use them as much as possible over the month. Ensure you use your student card everywhere you can, and do a little online research to get in the know about the range of places offering student discounts.
Make as much use as you can of any resources available in your third level institution for budgeting advice. Did you know that your local credit union will also be happy to help you with student budgeting guidance? You can contact your local credit union for more information.
Tip 5 on Student Life - Do NOT get a credit card
Do not believe the banks and other financial organisations telling you that you need a student credit card. You will never need one, and the interest you accrue will end up being a noose around your neck. Not to mention that if you miss a monthly payment, it will be a negative mark on your credit history. Recent research we carried out revealed that six in ten credit card users don’t even know what interest they are paying! Check out our blog for more on the difficulties with credit cards.
Likewise, think twice about opening an overdraft, it’s as unnecessary as a credit card and could well end up costing you more in the long run. If you do need some extra cash to help you cope with student life, check out our next tip.
Tip 6 on Student Life – If you need a Student Loan Ask your Local Credit Union
Whatever way you look at it, student life in Ireland is expensive. Even students living at home reported spending almost €670 a month, while those in student accommodation were paying almost €1,230 a month!* Don’t waste your precious years at third level worrying about finances (or using a credit card), talk to your local credit union instead. Credit unions the length and breadth of the country provide loans specifically for students and third level education.
Credit unions are also not-for-profit, so the interest you pay on your loan is not making shareholders richer, but is going back into the credit union to help others just like you. Check out our more detailed information on how a credit union works.
The beauty with credit union loans, aside from the fact that they are very affordable, is the flexibility. Credit unions will work with students to come up with a repayment plan that suits their individual circumstances. If you find you can’t afford the repayments, there is no need to worry. Credit union staff will restructure the repayments so they suit you better. Likewise if you want to repay the loan early, there is no penalty or hidden fee for doing this, unlike with other financial institutions!
You can also contact your local credit union to enquire directly about loans.
*Irish League of Credit Unions 2018 Cost of Third Level Research