Making the most of your money: Finance tips for international students

With the next academic year on the horizon, it’s time to start planning for the year ahead, and with temptations to spend at every street corner, keeping a healthy bank balance is not always easy. Our Global Room ambassadors have compiled some top tips for saving money and spending wisely.

Once you’re here in Dublin, there are lots of things you can do to save some money. Here are some of our biggest tips for living on a budget as a student in Dublin:

  1. Cook with your flatmates – share recipes from your home country and make it a social occasion at the same time! Have a look at Lifestyle section of the RTE website for recipe inspiration. https://www.rte.ie/lifestyle/recipes/
  2. Buy and cook in bulk – and freeze. This way you also have meals ready for yourself when you don’t have the time or don’t feel like cooking. The subreddit r/MealPrep is a great resource for this.
  3. Be savvy about your grocery shopping – shops like Lidl and Aldi or even Dealz are much cheaper than other supermarkets, and shops like Boots and EuroGiant are good places for affordable, branded toiletries.
  4. Check out your local butchers and see if they have any student deals, as meat products tend to be the most expensive part of your weekly shopping! The meat from butchers is much better quality than from a supermarket too.
  5. Avoid the temptations of buying food and coffee in town; bring in packed lunches or use the subsidised canteens on campus such as the Buttery in Front Square or the SU Cafe in the Goldsmith.
  6. Keep yourself updated on society events which offer free food. For example, Cumann Gaelach (Irish language society) have a weekly event called Anraith and Arán gach Céadaoin ag a haon (Soup and Sandwich every Wednesday at 1 pm); Qsoc (Trinity’s LGBT+ society) have weekly coffee hours; and the Trinity Chaplaincy has an endless supply of free tea, coffee and biscuits at all times as well as a free soup lunch every Tuesday. Just keep up with society’s weekly coffee hours/lunches on the TCDSU’s event calendar here: http://trinityevents.ie/Trinity societies
  7. Get a Student Leap Card – this will allow you to easily use any public transport in Dublin and can be bought from the SU shop in House 6 for just €10. The card caps your charge (on Dublin Bus) at €5 per day or €20 per week. It also includes discounts at many places around Dublin. The Leap Card also gives you deals in a range of shops in the city centre. Check out how to get your leap card here          Student Leap Card
  8. Alternatively, walk or cycle! Your leap card can be used to join the Dublin Bike scheme (http://www.dublinbikes.ie/) for just €20 per year, or keep an eye on ads for second-hand bikes on the Trinity notice-board (a link with updated posts is sent via email every week) and on sites like adverts.ie.
  9. Use your Google Drive – as a student, you will be given a TCD email address that includes all Google Drive services and unlimited Google Drive space. This can be a great place to store your notes and documents from throughout the year without taking up too much space on your computer. Prefer hand-written notes? Many societies and the SU will have free stationary at Fresher’s week, and Easons do a 10% student discount, all year!
  10. Want to travel around Ireland without spending too much? Join the International Students’ Society and go on discounted tours with fellow students!
  11. Be smart about buying books – you do not need brand new textbooks for all your modules. The library will often have multiple copies of books and you can take certain books out for a maximum of 7 weeks (you can find more information on how it works on https://www.tcd.ie/library/). For second-hand books, go to the book sale organized by the students’ union each semester, or to Chapters at the end of Parnell Street (http://chapters.ie/). Also, keep an eye out for ads posted on walls all over some campus buildings from students who are selling books they no longer use. Trinity notice board is also a brilliant resource. If suitable, you could also share a book with a classmate!
  12. Explore charity shops and flea markets in Dublin to discover amazing bargains! There are many charity shops on George’s Street and Thomas Street, and a large Oxfam Home store on Francis Street.
  13. Ask for student discounts everywhere! Many restaurants, hair salons, barber shops, book shops and clothing shops offer student discounts but aren’t obliged to tell you that they offer student discounts, so it is always worth asking at the checkout till before paying.
  14. Hair salons often look for models to advertise their business or teach students – and give free or really cheap haircuts.
  15. If you ever have trouble making ends meet, the Student Union provides small loans up to €100 to students with flexible repayment plans.Trinity Student Union
  16. To make an extra few euros a week, check the student notice board for Science experiments that require some student participants. The experiments have little to no risk and can be a good way to give back to your college and get 5 euros for half an hour of participation.
  17. Get an unlocked phone and avail of the pay by the month phone plans and student phone plans, like 48.
  18. If you’re super environmentally conscious and want to live on the cheap – Enviro Soc often do ‘food waste’ runs, where they visit supermarkets and take the food that’s still good but going to be thrown out! Get talking to them during Fresher’s week to learn more!

Part-Time Work: Under a student visa, an international student in Trinity is entitled to work 20 hours a week while in Ireland. There are plenty of job-finding websites in Ireland, such as www.indeed.ie, www.jobs.ie, and www.jobbio.ie.

TCDSU also have a job list that they frequently update on their website (https://www.tcdsu.org/index.php?Itemid=389&option=com_content&view=category&id=47).

There are also multiple job opportunities right here on campus both during the summer and during term time such as working at the SU Cafe, the SU shop, the Science Gallery, the library or as a student caller with the Alumni Office. This has many advantages such as being very close-by, flexible in terms of hours and providing an opportunity to meet new people and socialise. However, they’re often very competitive and not always publicised extensively so you have to keep an eye out!

If you want more casual work, there are also jobs like mystery shopping (www.panresearch.ie), or pet-sitting (https://petsittersireland.com). Fluent in another language other than English, or a whiz at maths/coding etc.? Advertise tutoring classes around campus during term-time!

Additionally

If, at any time, you feel like you’re struggling or really worried about finances, please do speak directly to your Students’ Union or the office of the senior tutor who provide Student Assistance Fund (SAF) for full undergraduate degree students.

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