- Find out about all the financial aid available in your college that you can apply for, such as grants, scholarships, bursaries etc
- Start budgeting. It doesn't have to be fancy. Calculate your available income and from that deduct the cost of items that must be paid for such as bills, rent, travel etc. The amount left over is your dispensable income i.e how much you can spend on yourself for entertainment, clothes etc
- Begin the habit of SAVING. Avoid splurging and save towards a particular item. Is there a new handbag you have your eye on? Use that as your motivation to save instead of splurging on the item and feeling guilty about it afterwards.
- Shop around for the best deals. Here in Ireland, sites like GroupOn have great deals on various things.
- Always ask if shops do student discounts. Shops such as New Look and TopShop in Ireland give 10% student discount - always ask at the checkout!
- Don't hang with big spenders. Some students have parents with deep pockets. If you know you aren't able to keep up with their kind of spending, stay in your own lane. Don't live outside of your means to keep up appearances. It isn't worth it.
- Get real with your expenses. Figure out the areas where you are spending unnecessarily and break those habits. Is it buying bottled water? Buy yourself a water bottle and refill as you need. Is it on food? Bring in your own lunch/food - spending €5 a day on food certainly adds up!
- Cheap entertainment is always good. We all want to have fun without breaking the bank. Want to catch a movie? Find out the student deals available in the cinema. Going on a night out? Put yourself on the cheaplists/gueslists. A lot of clubs do free entry before a certain time. Never bring your debit/credit card out on a night-out - very bad idea. Your transport money and the amount you want to spend on the night is all you need.
- Buy used textbooks. University books cost a fortune, one can easily spend €500 buying new textbooks! Ask around in your college/university for a second hand bookshop. Amazon is also amazing for second hand books. Before you buy, make sure the book is an absolute requirement!
- Look for ways to earn money. Dont have a job? Start your own business. Offering lessons in musical instruments, secondary school subjects are great ways to earn cash. Find a particular service that you can offer and charge people for it! I used to tutor secondary school kids in certain subjects and I earned good money that way. Keep your eyes open for once-off jobs on campus. There's always money lurking about to be earned!
I hope this helps someone. Don't fret too much about money. There's much more to life than that.
"The art is not in making money, but in keeping it"