10 tips on how to live on a student budget

2020-03-20 17:58:01
10 tips on how to live on a student budget
Part of uni life is learning to live on a student budget. Given the high costs of textbooks and tuition, it can often be difficult to save money, especially if you’re unable to work. But don’t despair just yet. To help with your budget we have come up with ten practical ways to become a money-savvy student by spending less, all without the fear of missing out.

1. Make a plan

The number one money-saving tip is to make a budget. Before you can cut down on expenses, you need to know what they are. Make a list of all your known expenses - rent, utilities, public transport and groceries - as well as your income or savings. You will then be able to allocate money towards entertainment, travel and activities based on how much you have left to spend. Budgeting effectively will also help you down the track, hopefully giving you the ability to put aside an emergency fund which can help you prepare unexpected expenses such as medical bills and car problems.


2. Open a high interest saving account / with a little fee

Opening a high-interest savings account and/or account that is free from monthly account keeping and ATM fees. This is particularly useful if you already have a bit of money saved up, as you’ll earn more interest in the long term. The downside is that some banks will only pay interest if you do not make any withdrawals in a given month, and they may require a minimum monthly deposit. There is a list of bank accounts that are tailored to university students. So make sure you shop around and compare. 


3. Keep an eye out for supermarket specials

Planning your grocery shopping around what’s on special can save you a considerable amount of money in the long term. Stock up on non-perishable food items or household supplies if you notice they’re on sale or try to incorporate some supermarket specials into your weekly meals. While specials can be great, be careful not to fall into the trap of buying things you don’t need, or buying too much and letting it all go to waste.


4. Bring your breakfast and/or lunch from home

Instead of buying breakfast and lunch, make them both at home. This will save you a lot of money each week. Consider bringing your leftovers from the previous night’s dinner or making something simple like a sandwich. If you’re not an early riser, prepare everything the night before. If you’re an avid coffee or tea drinker, you could also make your own brew at home and bring it with you in a thermal flask


5. Get a part-time job and brainstorm ways to earn some extra money

The most obvious way to earn and save money is by getting a casual or part-time job. You may find work in restaurants, clothing stores or offices, or by using skills you have like babysitting, writing or tutoring. Even working once or twice a week will help you save some money.


If you already have a job, you may consider increasing the hours you work while you are working towards your goal. Your student visa will permit you to work up to 40 hours per fortnight. This will allow you to maintain a full-time enrolment at your institution, without a negative impact on your studies.


Another idea is to hold a garage sale or market stall to sell some of your unwanted items too.


6. Use your student card

Make your student card your best friend by saving money through discounts on everything from retail and travel to food and software (if your state permits). There are discounts on brands such as ASOS and The Iconic, travel rebates on Opal cards and reductions on products like Microsoft Word - a uni necessity.


If you’re looking for specifics, start by searching for the product and adding ‘students’ at the end to see if they offer a student discount. It is also worth signing up to student discount sites such as Unidays, which collects student discount offers from a range of websites. If you’re going to splurge on items, you might as well use your student card to your advantage. Wherever you shop or go look for signs offering student discounts, and ALWAYS ask, whether there’s a sign or not.


7. Get active

If you find yourself spending a lot of money on petrol, parking or public transport, consider walking or riding a bike to close destinations. While this may require you to leave a little earlier, it will both save money and provide a great exercise opportunity.


8. Think of some alternative entertainment options

While a uni social life is great, it can also become expensive if you find yourself heading out multiple times a week. If you’re starting to run out of cash, start thinking of some alternatives to your usual activities. Instead of going to a restaurant, you could host a dinner party. Instead of going to the cinema, why not Netflix and chill at home


9. Take advantage of second-hand options

You can save money on a wide range of things by looking for second-hand options — everything from textbooks, clothes and electronics to cars and furniture. You can do your shopping at garage sales, markets and second-hand stores; online on websites such as eBay and Gumtree or social media forums; or simply by asking around for items you need.


10. Seek financial assistance

Governments and professional organisations offer financial support for overseas study through scholarships, grants and loans, so it’s a good idea to research options available in your country before you depart.


You may also be eligible for assistance from the Australian Government, which offers several scholarships to international students, including the Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships and Australia Awards. Also, look into assistance offered by your Australian institution or Australian organisations. 


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