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Irishtimes

Cutting costs, How to plan and budget

PLAN AHEAD "Get prepared now," says Conor Clancy, welfare officer at Trinity College students' union. "A lot of students land in college and figure it out towards the end of the first semester. - Peter McGuire

But it's a good idea to sit now, just when the first round CAO offers come out, and talk with your parents or guardians about how you will budget."

Deirdre Moloney, DCU's senior student support off icer, says the cost of college comes as a shock to both students and parents. "It's ideal to project your budget forthe coming year by creating an income and expenditure spreadsheet The website Consumerhelp.ie provides useful tools. Talk to your parents or guardians about how much financial help they can give throughout the year."

 

GET A JOB

Register with the college careers office and students' union. Watch out for interesting jobs: DCU students can, for instance, apply to be a student ambassador, representing the university at events and conducting campus tours for visiting schools.

 

BANKING AND SAVING

The banks will woo and lure you with all sorts of prom ises but let's be clear: they don't love you and they never will Your first port of call should be your local credit union. If you open an account and can set a side abit of money each month, the credit union will let you borrow up to three times what you've saved -very helpful if you're really stuck or need a Loan. Credit unions are a much better source of loans than a bank. And don't get a credit card: if you need credit, get a loan, nota bill you'll be paying high interest rates on. Do also keep an eye on the bank account One good thing about internet banking is online money manager tools, which allow you to track how much you are taking in every month, how much you are spending and what you're spending it on.

 

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

For most students needing financial support, the Susi higher education grant is the first port of call Students should also be aware that if their family income falls (due to unemployment, death or incapacity of a parent or guardian), they can apply to be considered for a grant or an increased grant at any stage of college; this is assessed on the current family situation rather than income in the lastfinancial year. Mature students may also be eligible for a grant.

Virtually every college has some help for students in financial difficulty. The students' union welfare officer may direct you to a student budgetary officer. There's usually a student assistance fund to help students in dire straits to make up a shortfall. Some third-level institutions, including UCC, hold workshops and information sessions on budgeting and money management at the start of term.

Finally, check whether you are eligible for a scholarship or grant through your college. UCD and DCU are among those with an elite sports programme; NUI Galway offers a scholarship for students from Mayo, while Trinity has up to five scholarships for Kerry students. •

 

REDUCE RENT

Yes, rents are up in Dublin, but rent tends to be cheaper north of the Liffey. Look outside the hot spots, but be aware that, if this means a longer commute, travel costs may be higher. 

 

TRAVEL BILLS

Cycle to save money on parking or public transport. The bike-to-work scheme has led to an explosion of bike shops, so shop around to get the best deal on a new or second-hand bike. Bike theft is a serious problem, particularly in Dublin, so get two locks yes, two. •

 

CUT THE GROCERY COSTS AND BILLS

"Saving money on food can be easier than you'd expect," says Ciara Corcoran, welfare off icer at UL students' union. "Buying own-brand products and shopping in stores such as Lidl and Aldi can save lots of money. Cooking as a group with your housemates can also reduce costs. Whether it's cooking collectively or taking it in turns, it can help not only your pocket but also make for healthier meals.

Fruit and veg stalls and ethnic food shops can also have bargains, while euro value shops such as Dealz have cheap name-brand shampoos, shower gels and nonperishable foods. Beware of special offers and "buy one, get one free" deals: there's no way you'll eat two bags of salad.

By turning off lights when you go to bed you are automatically reducing your electricity bill By putting your central heating on a timer you will get the most out of your oilor gas. If you're in private rented accommodation, you can save on the gas and electricity by comparing prices on Bonkers.ie. 

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