Eoin Clarke from the price comparison website, switcher.ie, has put together some useful tips to help Westmeath’s third level students manage their money.
Choosing a student bank account can be tricky, especially as banks try to lure you in with exciting free perks. But don’t be fooled by flashy freebies; think about what is important to you before choosing. Check which bank provides things like an overdraft, mobile app, internet banking or mobile payments, decide which features are most important to you and then make an informed decision. You may also be able to get a student credit card which could help you manage unplanned expenses, however only get one if you are sure you are able to pay off your balance in full each month.
When deciding who to go with for things like broadband don’t just go for the cheapest option. If you’re living in a property with other people you need a download limit that will stand up to the usage of everyone using it at the same time. Many broadband contracts are 12-18 months, compare to see if a monthly rolling contract could be cheaper over the year so you won’t have to pay exit fees.
Get the right cover
Make sure your belongings are protected at uni, shop around for good content and gadget cover. Mobile phones and laptops can be expensive to replace, covering them against loss, theft or damage could save you hundreds of euros if anything were to happen to them.
Creating a budget when heading off to college or university is key to make sure you have enough money left to make it to the end of term. Start by writing down all your incomings and outgoings, include things like nights out, bills, clothes, food, transport and any money you will earn or have saved. If something doesn’t fit into your budget see if there is anything you can save on. Having a budget will help you work out what you can spend each month and ensure you don’t get into unmanageable debt.
Many retailers offer cashback or student discounts either through schemes like Unidays or just by showing proof you’re studying. Be sure to check whenever buying something – every little bit helps and you may be surprised how much you could save.
Before rushing out and buying every book on the reading list, have a look online to see if you could buy them cheaper second hand. Students from the year above are likely to be selling books they no longer need. Many books are also available online or in the library so see if you can access them for free before splashing out.
The beginning of term is prime time for students to get targeted by fraudsters so be extra vigilant. Before handing over any money, be sure to check what you are paying for. When renting property, only use recognised letting agents and never give out personal information to someone over the phone if you are unsure who they are.