Here at Mozo we understand budgeting isn’t easy, especially for young Aussies on the academic path. With everything from pricey textbooks to student fees to pay for, the pursuit of knowledge can be expensive. So as part of our blog series for MoneySmart Week, an initiative designed to show how simple changes can make a big difference to our finances, we turned to Mozo’s intern Varsha Srinivasan, who is currently studying at the University of Sydney, to share with us her hints and tips for financially surviving uni.
With the latest Federal Budget leaving no pockets unturned, there’s never been a better time to turn on the financial smarts. If you’re a uni student anywhere in Australia right now, you might want to seriously consider tightening the belt on those skinny jeans.
As the Government tries to push its reforms through senate which would see university fees deregulated, now more than ever, it’s time to take advantage of the famed thriftiness that all uni students are supposedly born with. Yes, we’re talking about that sixth sense which allows you to find a free sausage sizzle anywhere on campus.
Follow these 10 saving commandments to help you reach financial enlightenment:
1. I shall not go on a shopping spree
It’s half way through the semester, those dreaded mid-semester exams are near and all you want to do is put your credit card to work. Resist that ‘Add to Cart’ button on ASOS and those inviting ‘SALE’ signs.
Instead, put away that extra bit of pay into a high-interest savings account. It could go towards paying back your HECS if you’re graduating soon, or perhaps even a study abroad stint to broaden your horizons and your graduate job resume.
2. I shall buy second-hand textbooks
It’s tempting to pick up shiny new textbooks in a crisp paper bag from the Co-op, but aesthetics are sadly not correlated to academics. A little online hunting on Student VIP’s TextbookExchange, or popping into the second-hand store at uni, can save you as much as 50% on the cost of your textbooks. Setting up an account on these websites to get rid of your old textbooks is also a great way to generate some quick cash.
3. I shall take full advantage of Happy Hour
Oh Unibar, that hallowed place within which uni students pour away their wages, schooner by schooner. It doesn’t have to be that way. Most Unibars have a Happy Hour, often right after your afternoon classes finish up, so slot your weekly beverages in right here.
4. I shall pack my own lunch
Spending $10 five days a week on lunch quickly adds up to $200 a month, and a whopping $2400 a year! That’s a return plane ticket to Europe and then some. Whip up a quick and tasty meal the night before instead, and you’ll help both your hip pocket and your waistline.
5. I shall turn trash into cash
Reduce, re-use and recycle won’t just save the planet, it can save your budget. Sell books, clothes and gadgets you no longer need on Gumtree and eBay. Vintage is all the rage, so you’ll be surprised at how much it all adds up.
6. I shall swap the gym for the pavement
In the hustle and bustle of semester, a gym membership often becomes an aspirational item: maybe you’ll exercise if you see $100 being taken out of your bank account every month. For those of us who aren’t gym junkies, consider going for an old-fashioned run instead.
7. I shall not upgrade to the newest Apple (or insert preferred brand name) product ASAP
Yes, the new device is 0.00001mm thinner than your iPhone, but that’s no reason to lock yourself into an expensive new contract. Instead, stick with your current phone or tablet until the new model goes on sale and then you can snap it up. That way, you’ll still have a new phone but it won’t burn an Apple-shaped hole in your pocket.
8. I shall ditch the credit card
Unless you can pay your credit card in full each month and aren’t tempted to splash out on the latest fast fashion or tech gadgets, a credit card is a bad idea. Instead, avoid high interest rates and opt for a debit card that uses your own cash not the banks.
9. I shall sell the car
If you have reasonable access to public transport, keep the hot wheels in the garage or better yet, sell them. Rego, insurance, repairs and petrol add up, not to mention parking for when you’re too lazy to get the train to uni. If you’re a full-time student, public transport is the way to go.
10. I shall ease my rent squeeze
Think long and hard about when and where to move out, if at all you must. Rentals in Australia’s cities are the biggest drain on student pockets. If you’ve already moved out, consider re-evaluating your position once your lease runs out. There are much better deals to be found in suburbs a bit further out than in student hotspots.