How to save money as a student 

Now that back-to-school season is in full force, many young people have less time to work at jobs and need to focus their attention on their studies. Dublin was recently named the most expensive city in Europe. It is no wonder why it is difficult to manage personal expenses all while trying to enjoy the college experience, but it does not have to be impossible. 

Here are some sacred tips on how to reduce your spending costs this academic year. 

Students outside Technological University Dublin Grangegorman – Image taken by Rahaf Aburideh

  1. Set a weekly budget 

One of the most vital aspects of knowing how to save money is recognizing how you spend it in the first place. Someone could be great at budgeting their weekly food costs yet spend all their savings in the local pub on a Saturday night. Every individual has unique needs and wants, so it is important to find a saving plan that works for you. 

Many banking apps, like Revolut, provide a spending tab which indicates how you have been spending that month. It is broken down into sections like travel, leisure and entertainment and household goods. This can be a great tool to help you understand your top spending habits. Setting up a chart with a weekly allowance for food, travel, leisure etc. could help you to figure out which expenses you are willing to cut back on. 

  1. Avail yourself of schemes at your university 

Whether or not you are a recipient of the SUSI grant or not, there is another financial support available at most of the colleges in Dublin. 

I spoke with Brian Jordan, President of TU Dublin’s Student Union who informed me of the various schemes the university has to offer to help you spend less money. “We have free medical services and free counselling services […] The SAF (Student Assistant Fund) can help alleviate financial difficulties so that students can afford things like food, books, and travel,” he said. 

TU Dublin also has a laptop loan scheme where students can avail themselves of laptops from “anywhere from a few months to their entire degree, scored based on their socio-economic needs,” said Jordan. 

Other Dublin universities such as Dublin City University (DCU) and University College Dublin (UCD) offer similar schemes. You can find more information on their websites.

  1. Take advantage of your student discount

Plenty of retail stores, cinemas, restaurants and more across the city offer a student discount. Sometimes it may be advertised, so do not be afraid to ask at the checkout! The app UNIDAYS offers discount codes for students to use online too if you are more of a virtual shopper! Make sure to keep your student ID handy in your wallet as most places will not give you a discount without it.

  1. Follow @thebrokestudentguide

This Instagram account is your one-stop shop for finding some of the best deals and discounts that Dublin has to offer for young people.

There is also helpful information on the account on topics such as how to claim your tax back, compare phone plans and how to save money on flights.

The account was set up by National College of Ireland (NCI) student Lauren Kelly in January 2020, when she was just 18 years old. “I was in my first year of college and working part-time, trying to go out and socialize without spending all my money. It became impossible! So, I started looking out for places that offered a student discount and started planning my nights out around that,” she said.

Kelly, who is now in her final year, has gained over 7000 followers since setting up the Instagram page. She has since begun a TikTok with the same username @thebrokestudentguide.


CHECK YOUR TAX!!! If you were on the PUP or TWSS you could owe money💰 or you could have been overcharged meaning you’re due a refund #tax #ireland

♬ A Moment Apart – ODESZA – hannah_harpist

When asked what inspired her to start the Instagram account, Kelly said “I think it is extremely important for students to save because everything is so expensive!!  It costs a fortune to learn to drive and to pay rent, so I always make sure to find any deals and discounts that I can to share with everyone who is also going through it.”

Image via @thebrokestudentguide on Instagram

  1. Split spending costs with housemates

If you are living in a shared space with other college students, deciding who buys what when it comes to household necessities can often become a touchy subject. If the “I buy this, you buy that” attitude works for you, that’s great. However, this system can often cause disputes. Over time, one tenant may feel as though they are contributing more money to the household than another. Evenly dividing your household expenditures can help to make sure everyone is chipping in their fair amount.

  1. Bring a packed lunch

Most would not consider a €4 chicken fillet roll breaking the bank. However, spending money on meal deals, snacks and coffee can add up quickly. Bringing your own lunch to college with you can help to save a lot of money over time. “I hate to say this, but a caramel oat milk latte is not essential!” said the ex-barista, Jordan. “Make coffee in a flask and bring it into college,” he added.

Investing in reusable containers is another great idea. They’ll keep your food fresher for longer, which means you could prepare your meals at the beginning of the week and grab one from the fridge each day.

Students outside Technological University Dublin Grangegorman – Image taken by Rahaf Aburideh

  1. Shop and Sell Preloved

In a world of fast fashion, it’s hard not to get sucked into the trap of buying a new outfit for every occasion, but why not shop on sites selling preloved items. Not only is it often more environmentally friendly but can help to save money too!

Finding a cheap find on Depop can be hard at times, so charity shops are where it’s at. The ones located in the heart of Dublin city can often not be the best, as they have the largest amount of shoppers, so the good stuff is rare to get your hands on. A top tip is to visit the charity shops in your local area, or just outside the city as you are more likely to have cheap and cheerful finds.

  1. Buy a Leap card

For those who take public transport to college regularly, a leap card will help to save costs. The TFI 90-minute fare now applies to most journeys in the Dublin area and is now only €1 for students. An adult fare is double the price, so it is defiantly worth it to buy a student one. This card also doubles as a student ID at retail stores, which could be useful if you forget your college one. You can apply for your card on their website

While it is important to be aware of how and what you are spending your money on, it is also important you treat yourself from time to time. You are only young once so you should not feel guilty about spending your own money, even if it is not a necessity from time to time.

Juggling college work, a part-time job and a social life can feel extremely challenging at times. If you feel like that chicken fillet roll will help you get through your day, go for it, it is not the end of the world! It’s the little changes consistently implemented that will make the biggest difference in the long run!

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