Juggling the costs: How to save sustainably in third level

A college student living away from home could spend an average of €12,222 during one academic year, according to the DCU Financial Survival at University 2021/2022 guide.

This figure includes costs such as rent, transport to and from college, essential utilities and socialising events. Those living at home are not spared these high costs and could face an average, lower spend of €5679 a year.

Learning where to allocate your money and how to save can be a daunting process especially for those who have moved away from home for the first time.

Dean O’Reilly, Vice President of Wellbeing at DCU Students’ Union gave some advice on ways to keep students “from slipping under the line”.

1. Budget

“The best thing to do is prepare a budget; even a mental one. Always put your money for essentials away first, and play with what’s left,” O’Reilly said.

The DCU page has a customisable spreadsheet where you can plan for your personal costs and adjust it to a realistic budget for yourself.

Prioritise your spending and try to develop some good money habits such as making your own meals, instead of eating out.

“Always put needs first. Sometimes you have to be blunt with yourself on what you actually need,” O’Reilly added.

2. Revolut

The Revolut app can be a useful tool in saving money, “think about putting aside money for your groceries, bills, and rent in one vault. Keep a portion for savings if you can, and then spend the rest on having a good time,” he said.

3. Societies

Paying for necessities can often leave little money left for socialising. O’Reilly suggests joining clubs and societies who often host subsidised events to reduce the amount spent on going out: “Societies are great for keeping costs down. As a student myself, that’s really how I got through college.”

4. Trial and Error

“When it comes to it, budgeting isn’t glamorous. It’s not fun, either. And that’s what’s hardest about it. You don’t feel “good” budgeting when budgeting means you can’t have that second pint or pay for that takeaway.

“With that being said, budgeting correctly keeps you from slipping below the line. That’s what you’re maintaining,” he said.

For those seeking additional information on the financial services available to DCU students, the DCU finance page  offers a range of resources on budgeting and student expenditure. Alternatively, students can phone 01 700 6055 or email  studentassistancefund@dcu.ie.

Claire Young 

Image credit: Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash