Sometimes being a student can be expensive. You need to be aware of many different costs, while being away from home, and often have to balance rent, bills, food, clothes while maintaining a social life! This can be overwhelming but thankfully, Student Ambassador Estelle has given us her handy 6 Commandments to being budget friendly in Dublin! Read her second blog to find out her tips and tricks to surviving on a budget…
As mentioned in my previous blog, there are plenty of free attractions and beautiful parks all around Ireland. Interestingly, every time I mention that I am living and studying in Dublin as an International student – I get thrown a myriad of questions such as, “How can you afford it?”, “ I heard that the rent is insanely overpriced in Dublin”, “Isn’t it very expensive to survive in Dublin?”
Well, the truth is, Dublin is indeed an expensive place to live in. However, the assumption that you have to be rich and have a lot of money in order to afford a decent life in Dublin is not exactly true. From my experience, it is definitely possible to live a comfortable and quality lifestyle on a student’s budget here.
So here are some tried and tested budget tips (by yours truly) – The 6 Commandments of being budget friendly in Dublin:
THOU SHALT COOK YOUR OWN MEALS
As a student, it is normal to constantly look for ways to reduce expenses. One of the best ways to stick to my monthly budget is to cook and dine at home. I love food and dining out is one of my favourite activities. Unfortunately, dining out is an expensive affair in Dublin. Even cheap meals add up in the long run hence, it is definitely a cheaper and healthier choice to cook and prepare my own meals. Also, packing along a snack/sandwich on days when I have to attend classes ensures that I do not spend on overpriced food in the cafes or restaurants near university.
THOU SHALT SHOP AT LIDL AND ALDI FOR GROCERIES
Dublin might be an expensive place for culinary ventures but thank goodness for cheap supermarkets such as ALDI and LIDL. There are many affordable supermarket chains available in Ireland such as DUNNES, Supervalu, Tesco, Iceland. However, ALDI and LIDL are the cheapest of them all. The best part about supermarket shopping is there are lots of instant meals served in, healthy meals and ready to eat snacks at cheap prices! Making it a fun way to try out different cuisine and food without a dent in your budget.
In addition, many supermarkets have a weekly special for certain items and selected produce for insanely good value deals. Aside from that, brand name food and household items are also much cheaper at bargain shops such as DEALZ and Eurogiant where most items are priced at only €1.50!
THOU SHALT HUNT FOR BARGAINS
Charity shops such as Oxfam, Enable Ireland, Vincent’s have a wide variety of apparel, books and household items. The items are usually donated by the public and then sold to earn profit for the charity organisations. Many items are still in great condition and sold cheaper than retail. In short, it is a perfect place to shop for your new life in Dublin at an affordable price. I truly love shopping at charity stores as I get to save the earth, contribute to charity and save money all at once. A triple win in my opinion!
If you are not a fan of thrift shopping, look out for the SALE rack that is often located in a less visible section of retail stores. There are often off season or as-is pieces that are cheaper due to minor defects.
THOU SHALT MAKE FULL USE OF YOUR STUDENT STATUS
I learnt this genius but smart trick from a group of friends. There was this girl who would inquire if the restaurant or shop provides student discounts. All she did was to start a conversation by saying“ I am a student. Do you have a student price deal for this item/meal?” Incredibly, she would usually receive a 10% discount off the retail price! Of course, it is not a fool proof method that ensures success but it never hurts to try.
For those of you who are too shy to try this technique, just keep a lookout for student deals or set meals that are usually available in most cafes and restaurants based in the city centre. Don’t forget to show proof of your student ID to score the discount!
THOU SHALT BE A SAVVY AND SMART SHOPPER
Sign up for memberships that provide discounts. Shop around before you purchase. There are many items that are a lot cheaper online than in stores. Golden tip: hunt around for voucher codes before press the pay button. I received a 20% discount and saved €36 for a winter coat by applying an online code. The internet is an amazing place – make full use of it. Our parents were not able to utilise the wonders of online shopping and discount codes.
Alternatively, keep a lookout for similar items that you are intending to purchase in charity stores or flea markets. There are many good quality items for sale at a fraction of retail prices hidden in these places. I managed to find fashionable and trendy clothing that are in excellent condition in thrift shops. It takes patience but you will feel so accomplished once it is done.
THOU SHALT GET A STUDENT LEAP CARD
If you are a heavy commuter and rely on public transport to get around Dublin……..do yourself a favour and get a student LEAP card. Many people do not know that all rides are free once you cap €20 for the week! It might be a hassle to apply for the student LEAP card but you save so much in the long run. A new initiative that was launched this year is the FOC fare for commuters who switch between different modes of transport during their journey. Aka bus to train. Just take note of the 15 minutes grace period. As long as you do it within the time frame, you will not be charged extra.
Thank you for reading my post. I hope you enjoyed learning about my tips and tricks to live in Dublin on a budget!
Estelle is working towards a Master’s in Special Educational Needs at Trinity College Dublin.