Surviving on a student budget can be challenging, especially as an international student with work restrictions. Therefore, it is important to get on top of your budgeting early to avoid facing financial difficulties and undue stress.
When working out your budget, think about your main expenses (ie rent, bills, transport, food) and your income (how much you earn or money you have saved/receive from your family). Keep a written record of your expenses for a month and this will give you a figure on which to base your budget. From these records you should be able to work out your average weekly expenses and income so you are on the way to working out your budget. The MoneySmart templates and ASIC’s apps.budgeting tools are great resources that can assist you with tracking your expenditure. Some internet banking apps also allow you to do the same thing.
Other than making a budget (and sticking to it) the following tips will also make your money stretch further:
- make use of student concessions wherever possible by using your student ID cards, and weekly specials (Cheap Tuesdays). It’s always worth asking if student discounts are available, the worst they can say is no!
- second-hand items are always cheaper than brand new ones. Source furniture and other large items from garage sales, flea markets, Gumtree, social media sites, or via noticeboard flyers on your campus. Hint: if buying second-hand textbooks, ensure you buy the correct edition.
- make a list of items you need to buy before going to the supermarket/shops (this will help avoid impulse purchases). Consider your local farmer’s market and discount supermarkets, or keep an eye out on weekly supermarket specials.
- learn to cook - cooking your own food will save you money. You can also bring leftovers/sandwiches for lunch
- make your own coffee rather than buying one at the local cafe
- use tap water instead of buying bottled water. Tap water is safe to drink in Australia and is FREE!