Being a student is often synonymous with eating mi goreng noodles for dinner and living in a two-bedroom house with five other people.
It’s normal for you to have a lower income when you are studying, but there are still ways you can make the most of your pennies.
Not only are you deep in the throes of learning about your chosen subjects… this is also when you can form some great money management habits. Living on a tight budget can help you gain financial skills that will last a lifetime.
If you are just starting your student journey, or are returning to studies, we have some tips to help you make every dollar count.
Make a budget
This tip is actually relevant for everybody… not just students. Because it doesn’t matter what your income is, implementing a budget is always a beneficial process. But it is especially important when you have limited finances because a budget helps you to minimise overspending.
There are many online resources that can help you create a budget. In fact, the Australian Government’s MoneySmart website has an easy-to-use tool. You’ll need to outline your income and your expenses so that you can determine whether you have enough to cover your essentials.
It will also help you identify areas where you can reduce your spending and if you have any opportunities to save. Once you have your budget laid out, it’s important that you stick to it… if you don’t, you might find that it’s back to noodles or toast for dinner.
Another way to help reduce your spending is to become a thrifty shopper. Purchasing items second hand is a great way to lower your costs and is also helpful for minimising waste… the environment will thank you for buying a used item that might otherwise end up being thrown out!
Online selling platforms like eBay, Gumtree and even Facebook Marketplace are fantastic for finding things you need. You can often find items in almost new condition for much lower prices than buying new.
Textbooks, household goods, clothes… you can purchase almost anything and it can save you a bundle. Don’t forget to join your local ‘buy, swap and sell’ group as you can sometimes find excellent freebies, too.
Share house living
Housing costs are usually the largest portion of your budget and there are also many variables to consider. Living in a suburb close to campus might come at a higher price but it could mean you walk to uni every day rather than pay for transport. And vice versa, you might find a more economical option further away but then you’ll have a commute to deal with. It’s worth doing some number crunching to work out what is the better option.
You could also think about share house living. Joining forces with a few other people makes housing much more affordable and means you might be able to find a place that ticks all your boxes. Jump online to find potential flatmates or research student accommodation services.
Meal prepping isn’t just for time poor parents or people focused on their fitness regime. It is an excellent way to save money.
When you are on the run, dashing from one class to another, it can be easy to spend money on a quick take away meal… but do that three or four times a week and you will blow your budget in the blink of an eye.
It’s much better for your wallet to plan your meals for the week and after you’ve done your grocery shopping spend a little bit more time prepping. In the end it will save you time and help you stay on top of your finances.
Check out Government support
We also recommend looking into Government financial support for students. Eligibility varies, but you could be able to access some assistance… and when you are living on a student income any additional dollars can help.
It’s important not to forget that you won’t be a student forever and all the hard work you are doing today will pay dividends in the long run. The budgeting and financial management habits you create now will be invaluable in the future.