This article is written by Suka Junin
For most students, being in university is their first taste on money management. It’s challenging to deal with finances as it is, but being in a different country as an international student can take some time to get used to.
Check out our list with nine tips on how to navigate through the financial hurdles of student life that is sure to have you spend your money on all the right things, but still have enough for coffees with friends.
1. Find a part-time job
Working alongside your studies is a great way to make some extra income. Once your timetable for the semester is released, you can plan your shifts around it. Although there are working hour limitations (it’s 40 hours per fortnight as of right now) for student visas, it’s also wise to not overwork yourself.
2. Shop smart
Make sure to keep an eye out for specials when grocery shopping. It’s good to stock up on non-perishable goods when they’re on a discounted price but resist putting things you don’t need in the basket.
Going out on particular days can help, too. Some restaurants may have specials only on a given day of the week or during lunchtimes, and going to the movies are significantly cheaper on Tuesdays.
3. Take advantage of your student card
You won’t be a student forever, so really use the perks you have. With a student card, you’re entitled to almost all concession prices. Check out all the museums and attractions at a slashed price and keep note on what shops give student discounts.
4. Keep a spreadsheet
You probably don’t need the extra work on top of uni assessments but this one will pay off in the long run. Take note of your expenses during your second month as a student (the first month will mostly consist of one-off purchases to help settle in) and it can help with managing your finances in the future.
5. Avoid unnecessary expenses
You can be tempted to purchase all the latest gadgets or the trendiest clothes, and that’s okay in moderation but try to avoid buying things you don’t need. Purchasing small things won’t seem like much but if you do it often, you’ll get a shocking figure at the end of your spreadsheet!
Here’s a good trick to prevent impulse shopping: keep a list of what you need to buy (e.g. a blouse for an internship interview) but when you want something that isn’t on that list, sleep on it. If you wake up the next day still wanting it, then go for it.
6. Learn how to cook
Australia is home to one of the best food scenes in the world. It’s delicious but it can be harmful to the wallet. Try to limit the $25 brunches and learn to cook at home. It saves you so much in the long run, it’s healthier, and you’ll even get to acquire a new skill.
7. Share when you can
If you get to live with flatmates, suggest to share things. If the laundry facility in your building requires gold coins, opt to share a wash with a friend because they can add up. Buying groceries and household items together can also be cost-friendly.
8. Ask for financial help
Since studying abroad would be the time for most to deal with personal finances, it’s important to be confident in dealing with it. When in doubt, seek help from your uni’s financial assistance services, as they are highly experienced with situations like these.
9. Don’t forget to save
Savings can often be overlooked by students – most may not think it’s important at this stage in their lives – but it’s vital to think about the future. You may not be saving for a particular thing but it’s handy to know you are prepared for rainy days.
It’s best to put that money aside in a savings account where it can grow with interest. Shop around for the bank that’s right for you but don’t be tempted to get a credit card alongside it; you’ll only be spending money you don’t have!