If you’re worried about all things coinage this term, let the Financial Regulator’s Aoife Murphy guide you through the mire…

If you don’t want to spend the last term munching on cold baked beans or hanging your teabags out for a third time, here are some tips to help you manage your money.

Bring on the budget
You’ll need a good plan if you don’t want to blow all your cash in the first month. Work out how much money you’re getting (grant, summer savings, loan, allowance from parents) and what your expenses are (rent, food electricity, entertainment, any loan repayments). Then, you can work out your budget. The budget planner on www.itsyourmoney.ie makes budgeting easy. A good budget will then allow you to decide how much money you have to splurge in the Students’ Union bar. Try not to go over the budget no matter what. Problems always arise when you lose track of your spending, so keep a close eye on your bank account. The easiest way to do this is to use online banking.

Be careful with credit
When you start college, you may be offered student loans, student credit cards and a student overdraft. An overdraft can be handy if you find yourself a bit short one month, but the interest can be high and if you go over your limit, you could be hit with extra fees. And with all credit options, check the cost comparisons on www.itsyourmoney.ie
A credit card can be convenient, especially for buying online or booking flights or hotels. The major banks have differing criteria and spending limits on their student credit cards, so check them all out before you sign up to one. Try to find a card with a low Annual Percentage Rate (APR). A typical credit card charges an APR of 14.5 per cent, so it will only take three and a half years for your debt to increase by 50%, thanks to interest alone!
Remember that credit limits are not a spending target, and that purchases will mount up quickly- so use your credit card wisely and always pay off as much as you can each month. Credit cards are an expensive form of short term credit, especially if you do not pay off your balance in full at the end of each month. So, they are not suitable for funding day-to-day expenses, unless you know when and how you can pay them off.

If you need to get a student loan, try not to spend it all in the first few weeks. Remember, this is your first real stab at living independently, so don’t blow your money in freshers’ week. Once you have set a budget, stretch your money out over as much of the term as you can.

Don’t be duped by account freebies
Most banks offer student current accounts but the terms and conditions vary between providers. Don’t be distracted by any gimmicks, freebies or giveaways on offer – choose the account that best suits you. Look at the fees the banks charge for the service you use most, where their branches are located, and the interest rate on overdrafts and any related fees before you decide which account to open. You can compare the features of the different accounts, including overdraft fees and charges, by using the student current account cost comparison on itsyourmoney.ie. Look for student discounts or money-off vouchers in shops, restaurants or cinemas. There are lots of savings you can make. You can find out more about great savings for students on www.studentcents.ie

If you need help just ask
If you’re in financial difficulty, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Speak to your bank or the student welfare officer at your college. Ignoring the problem will only make things worse. Remember that missing repayments will impact negatively on your credit record and your ability to get loans in the future.