From rent and groceries to bus fare or petrol, returning to college can be an expensive time, either for ourselves or for our parents, and especially when the rent in Ireland is currently so high

Either way, it's a time when we feel we should be pinching our pennies which certainly isn't easy. 
Regardless of what age you are or where you are in the country, college is an expensive time and it doesn't seem like prices are on the way down.

In fact, Emeritus Professor in Equality Studies, UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, John Baker says that, "the student rent crisis is part of the general housing crisis in Ireland, and it will only be solved when the state returns to building social housing on a massive scale". 

Things may eventually take a turn though, as Michael Byrne, Lecturer in Political Economy at the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, says that "the government is already considering the 'cost rental' model for the provision of social housing, and there is no reason this cannot be used in the provision of student accommodation, as it is in Denmark for example".

"This involves the provision of student accommodation on a not-for-profit basis. Students pay rents which cover the cost of financing, developing and maintenance of their housing, with rents calculated over a 30 year period. Such a model can ensure steady, long term supply of affordable student housing."

While this is reassuring for students down the line, it's not going to happen overnight so, in the meantime, here are a few other ways you can ease the stress of rent over the next coming year.

1. Lunch prep
This goes for everyone, not just college students. Preparing your lunches not only saves you a huge weekly cost it also gives you the opportunity for a healthier lifestyle, in turn leading to a happier one. If you spend on average €7 a day on lunch, that means your spending €35 weekly. Buying your lunch from the supermarket can be half the price, if not less. So get prepping! 

Need some healthy recipe ideas? We've got plenty right here.

2. Keep cups and reusable bottles
A lot of us can't give up coffee no matter what the saving costs are. But here's the thing, you don't have to! A lot of coffee shops give on average 20c off your coffee if you present a keep cup. It might not seem like a lot but it's a euro a week, that's €52 a year.

As for reusable bottles, you're not only saving the environment but if you're buying a bottle of water every day you're bound to see a change in your bank account. 

3. Capsule Wardrobe
Letting our wardrobe take a back seat seems grim but it really doesn't have to be. We can often feel that if we have a special occasion we need to buy something new, or perhaps you've had a jumper since last year and you feel you need a new one. But wearing our old clothes is all the trend now with the new emphasis that's being put on sustainability.

We've often seen celebrities repeat their outfits, and if billionaires can do it, so can you. Instagram also features many bloggers that use one item of clothing and style it in many ways, so get some inspiration from them and stay away from the shops.

To find out how to build a capsule wardrobe, click here.

4. Make a plan
Of course, it's not feasible to be totally stringent with your money so create a budget for yourself. Write down (on a piece of paper or by using an app on your phone) what your weekly outgoings are and leave yourself a small bit of leftover money that's just for you. Whether it's for meeting a friend for a coffee or going to the cinema. Make sure you have that bit of money so that you can live your life too.

Saving might seem far-fetched as you struggle with everyday expenses. However, by setting up an automatic account that saves the smallest amount each week will mean you won't even notice. This means, that when you get your college breaks during the year you'll have that well-needed spending money waiting for you, or perhaps you'll use it to pay off any loans, either way, it's there. And of course, make sure you don't avail of a bank overdraft option.

To learn how to budget (and make the most of your money), check out The Money Doctor's top tips here.

5. Use the library 
College books can be extremely expensive, especially if you're trying to pay rent. Unfortunately, in certain circumstances it's unavoidable but make sure you check all avenues first.

Use your college library as well as your local one. A lot of the time the book can also be bought at a cheaper rate online. It's understandable that having the book physically can be more useful for taking notes and highlighting certain parts but there are ways around this. Taking note of the page number in your notebook and taking notes that way is a useful alternative.

Never be afraid to ask your tutor or course coordinator where the best place is to find the cheapest version of the book they want you to buy, they may even be nice enough to let you borrow theirs for a day or two.