Money-Saving & Budgeting Tips for Students

Money-Saving & Budgeting Tips for Students

Friday, September, 8th, 2023 in Credit Union News

A combination of soaring rents and inflation means learning how to manage your finances for the first time is trickier than ever, unless you are fortunate to come from a family who’ve saved up to pay for your third-level education. But there are ways to maximise financial supports and keep your expenses to a minimum.


  • Once you have a place at university or college, you will need to organise somewhere to live quickly. Depending on your situation, you might continue living at home or you might have relations that you can stay with. However, for many people, college means moving to a new town or city and trying to find a flat for the first time.
  • For some students, getting student accommodation may be their only option. However, if you have the choice between staying at home or getting your own accommodation, take time to consider if you feel moving out will be worth it. Accommodation can be expensive, and if you’re only on campus for a few days within a month, you might not feel it’s worth the cost. Weigh up the benefits of staying at home versus moving out and make the decision that is right for you.
  • For first-year students, dedicated student accommodation is recommended. Although more expensive, there are normally no hidden costs, and the majority assign all first years together, which is an advantage. There is usually 24-hour security onsite, which is reassuring for those moving away from home for the first time – and the parents! There are also maintenance people on call if there are issues with electricity, heating, fridges. A fact to keep in mind is that some companies charge a substantial fee over the year, so it may be advisable to avail of a monthly instalment payment plan.
  • College Cribs is a website dedicated to listing student accommodation in Ireland. You can search for a room, a house to rent with other students, or for digs. You can also check out your college website as well as renting sites such as or Each college will have a Student’s Union Welfare Officer to advise you on renting. You can also check notice boards on campus, where students often put-up notices seeking flatmates, as well as houses offering lodgings off campus.
  • There is a high demand for rented accommodation and because of this, rental scams are becoming more common. When looking to rent, it is important not to rush into a decision. Be aware of offers that seem too good to be true.
  • Visit for more information on rental scams, how to avoid them and what to do if you are scammed.

Living on a tight budget

  • New college students tend to spend all their week’s budget before Wednesday and then are broke for the remainder of the week. Monitoring what you spend may be uncommon for many students. At this point in your life, it’s likely that you’re not saving for your future, but it would be wise to ensure that you’re spending within your limits.
  • Making a personal budget can help you to identify ways to reduce your spending. The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) has a free budgeting tool called My Budget that can help you to do this. You can also use a spreadsheet to plan out your budget.
  • Start with calculating any income sources, such as grants, any allowance you get from your family, and savings from working during the summer holidays. Divide the total by the number of weeks you’ll be at college. Then do the same for your expenses, which might include rent, bills, food, subscriptions, toiletries, gym membership, nights out, transport, and books. You might want to keep a spending diary to monitor your spending for a week or two – you’ll be surprised at what you “waste” your money on.
  • Find out when rent and utility bills are due and sit down together to divide out each payment equally. Each housemate should be tasked with the responsibility for one utility bill, such as electricity, to make sure it’s paid on time and that you’re with the cheapest supplier.

Student Discounts

  • When you start a college course, you will be given your own student card.
  • It is important to keep your card with you as it can save money on retail, dining, entertainment, and travel.
  • If you’re out shopping, remember to ask at the till if a student discount is available, or look online to see what shops accept your student card before deciding where to shop.


  • Socialising is important to help make friends, become part of the college community, and settle in better. As soon as you’re in the college gate, there’s a well-thought orientation for new students.
  • Clubs and societies make that easier because you’re with people who share your interests.
  • Check out if the Students’ Union in the college run free events during term time.
  • There are lots of free things to do in many college towns and cities as well, museums, gallery’s etc.
  • It’s one of the well-established money-saving tips but paying by cash really is one of the best ways to spend less on a night out. Even the strictest, most money-conscious of us are a little free-spirited with the old debit card once we’ve had a few drinks. If you only take cash with you on a night out, you’re sure to never go over budget.
  • Check out student discounts or special student evenings in the local cinema.
  • There are other inexpensive things you can do, cooking a meal, having a house party, card night, going outdoors for a walk/run/gym, etc. Be creative.


  • Check out if there is someone from home in the same college as you and arrange sharing lifts if that’s an option.
  • All full-time third level students are entitled to apply for a Student Leap Card as long as they have a minimum of 16 hours of lecture time per week. Your Student Leap Card is your passport to a range of discounts with retailers along with reduced travel prices with Dublin Bus, Luas, Irish Rail, Bus Éireann and some private operators.
  • If you are within cycling distance from college, buy a used bike on DoneDeal or this will save you money on taxis, buses or car travel.
  • There may be times when a taxi is the only option, try and share taxis and the cost if possible. Use Free Now or Lynk Apps so that you know the cost.


  • There are small things you can do to reduce your everyday expenses such as buy cheaper own brand alternatives, buy in bulk where possible, keep an eye on in-store discounts and offers, cook at home a few days a week and use a travel mug when you get your daily coffee.
  • If you’re sharing a house, create a shared kitty to buy household items in bulk, such as cleaning products, milk, toilet paper, and big bags of pasta. Ideally, you should do one big supermarket shop together, with an agreed shopping list.
  • Do a big shop once a week and you’ll do a much better job of avoiding impulse buys.
  • Make a list of your meals for the week. Find out when your local supermarket reduces prices – it’s usually after 6pm – and do your shopping at that time. Sign up to your supermarket’s loyalty scheme to get vouchers and coupons.
  • During the college week, cut costs by bringing your own lunch and eating in cafes with student discounts.
  • If you haven’t already learned how to cook a few basic meals, get a parent to show you how before you start college or check out recipes online, because eating out all the time will cost you a fortune. For instance, if you spend €4.95 on lunch five times a week, you’ll be spending around €100 a month on that meal alone.
  • Freeze your food is another good tip. There is a lot of food you can freeze, including bread, milk, pasta, and wine (all your essentials, in other words). When you freeze leftovers, you’ve got a cheaper and healthier alternative to takeaways and shop-bought snacks, too.
  • Eating vegetarian food for a couple of days a week will save you money while giving you the chance to eat more veg.


  • The obvious way is by buying second hand clothes or thrifting in Charity Shops, but there are loads of ways of saving money on clothes.
  • Keep your eye out for Sales and using your student discount in big brand stores.
  • Supermarkets also have bargains in the Clothing department.
  • TK Maxx and eBay always have bargains available and there are other deals at similar outlet stores.
  • Essentials like socks can be bought in shops like Penney’s, Dealz, Mr. Price, Dunnes and other Bargain shops.


  • A bar of soap will do the same job as an expensive shower gel.
  • Generic brands should be purchased in place of overpriced branded goods.
  • When it starts to get difficult to squeeze out toothpaste from the tube, don’t throw it away just yet. You might be able to make it last a bit longer. By cutting off the end of the tube, you can access more toothpaste. This tip works for most toiletries like shampoo or moisturiser, so you shouldn’t need to replace them as often.
  • Always buy own-brand medicines, Nurofen packets might look nicer than Tesco’s own alternatives, but they both do the same job. This applies to all medicines, not just painkillers.


  • In relation to college books and notes, maximise online availability, in free PDF format, rather than purchasing expensive books and printing off notes.
  • Once you have your essential reading list, look at your college website and campus noticeboards to see whether anyone is selling the books you need.
  • Always got your head in a book. Or just need to do reading for your course? Rather than splash the cash on your own copies, hit up your university library (or even your local library) and rent books for free. In fact, free access to books and journals is one of the best free things you can get from your college/university. Just make sure you return the books on time to avoid a library fine.
  • If you can’t get hold of books through the library or second-hand websites, look on Google Scholar and Google Books.


  • Shop around for mobile phone and internet plans
  • While it’s possible that you have remained with the same phone provider for many years, it is worth exploring the plans that other providers have to offer. Think carefully about your needs and compare prices and plans before entering a phone contract.
  • It is also worth shopping around when looking for an internet service provider. Make sure you ask for information about internet speed, data limits, additional fees (such as installation and cancellation fees) and access to tech support before entering a contract.

Financial Support

  • Make sure you’re aware of the Higher Education Grants you may be eligible for with SUSI. Increases in the income thresholds included in Budget 2023 that came into effect on September 1 mean your family can earn a bit more and you’ll still qualify for a grant. If you come from a household with a gross income of less than €62,000, there’s a 50pc grant towards the €3,000-a-year student contribution charge, as well as a new student contribution grant of €500 for household incomes between €62,000 and €100,000. From this month onwards, you’re allowed earn €6,552 during the holidays without risking your student grant, up €2,000 from previously.
  • Full and part-time students who are experiencing financial difficulties may be eligible to apply to the Student Assistance Fund (SAF). From mid-October, you can apply for help with costs such as rent, food, travel, and utility bills from the Student Assistance Fund (SAF). This fund is aimed at financially disadvantaged students and can also help students who don’t have a relationship with their parents.
  • Scholarships/Bursaries may be available from the College you are applying to contact your institution’s bursaries and scholarships offices to see if you’re eligible for any scholarships.
  • If you are a member of Enniscorthy Credit Union you can apply for our FREE Scholarship Draw – find out more here.

Tax Relief

  • Tuition Tax Relief – The qualifying fee is the amount you pay for tuition fees (including the student contribution). The maximum amount you can claim is €7,000 per person per course. The €7,000 maximum is applied to each course for each academic year. There are different disregard amounts for full-time or part-time courses. The disregard amount is €3,000 in respect of a full-time course and €1,500 in respect of a part-time course.
  • Rent Tax Credit – The Government introduced an annual rent tax credit in last year’s Budget – to last until 2025 – that will reduce the amount of income tax you pay. If you don’t work outside college and don’t have an income tax liability, your parents can claim the rent tax credit, which is worth up to €500 off their tax bill. However, you must be living in accommodation that’s registered with the Residential Tenancies Board.
  • Check out

Day to Day Banking

  • When choosing a student current account, don’t be too dazzled by offers from bank reps on campus and look at the fees and charges, the CCPC advises.
  • If you do need credit, you might want to sign up to a current account with a traditional lender or credit union.
  • Enniscorthy Credit Union has a FREE student Current Account with a Debit Mastercard available to all student members. Find out more here about ALL we have to offer our Student members

Solving Problems

  • Students will have questions and encounter problems when they initially start college. They normally do not know who to approach to get answers.
  • On the academic side, their head of department, lecturers and tutors will be able to answer questions related to academic issues.
  • The support and administrative staff in the college will deal with all non-academic related matters i.e., registration, finance, grants, timetables, student services.
  • Some student unions operate confidential and anonymous listening services. The biggest of these is NiteLine, run by and for students of several universities, colleges and institutes of technology (Freephone: 1800-793793), Student union welfare officers, college chaplains, counselling services and students advisers are all there, while most tutors and lecturers know how to help and support students who are going through a tough time.
  • Anyone can contact Samaritans, no matter how old you are. Find out more about how to contact a Samaritan.
  • Citizens Information Board Statutory body which supports the provision of information, advice, and advocacy on a broad range of public and social services.
  • MABS – A national, free, confidential, and independent service for people in debt or in danger of getting into debt.
  • spunout is Ireland’s youth information and support platform, working towards an Ireland where all young people are supported and empowered to thrive.

Enniscorthy Credit Union has proudly supported students and their families now for many years.  It is more expensive than ever to attend third level, but we are here to help, we offer

You can email or call us on 0539233835

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