- in General
Even if you live with your parents, sooner or later you will have to get into the habit of budgeting for university expenses.
Many young people start their debt careers as soon as they finish high school. For this reason it’s essential to develop good spending habits and learn to stick to a plan. Otherwise you will graduate with a bad credit history to go along with your degree.
Here are the biggest expenses and some tips on how to manage them.
Austudy may cover the basics but it’s not enough to live on. You will be shocked at how much money flows out of your pocket in the form of rent. Most likely you’ll need to find a casual job, one flexible enough not to interfere with studies.
Most students can expect to spend up to $300 a week on rent in capital cities, particularly in Sydney. Campus student housing, although convenient, is pricey. In most instances it’s not worth the extra cost. Your best option is to share a house or apartment. The more people in one place, the lower the rent works out. On the downside, having too many housemates will get frustrating at times.
The Government’s HECS-HELPS loans make study feasible for Australian students. It’s a loan against your tuition costs that gets repaid through your salary once you start earning an income. The threshold at present is $53,000. Unless you start off with a high flying job you won’t get hit with repayments straight away. Although it’s pegged to inflation, like all debt it will mount up if left unpaid. The negative impact of HECS is felt as it gets deducted from your pay. It limits your savings and most lenders will look at student debt when considering applications. Something to keep in mind. You won’t need to stress over this until you complete your degree.
Getting to and from class is a weekly expense that you have to budget for. University students in most states can apply for a concession card, which effective halves their public transport costs. Owning a car burns a hole in your wallet, even when it’s running well. Plus there’s always the battle to find parking. Consider selling it unless it’s essential to your lifestyle.
No one wants you to go hungry so bear in mind to sufficiently plan for one of life’s little essentials! A moderately active student, for instance, spends around $50-100 a week on groceries.
You won’t be able to complete your course without textbooks. However, consider hiring from the library or purchasing them second hand to bring down expenses. You can recover some of your money by offering your old books once you have completed the course. Universities often have book exchanges or you can list them on eBay or on student notice boards. Textbooks are always in demand, so don’t let them sit there, swap them for cash instead.
Some final tips for sticking to a budget
• Avoid impulse buys
• Buy the store brands at supermarkets, they are often just as good as the more expensive items
• To reduce waste, use up food in your cupboard and fridge before buying more
• Give yourself a weekly treat as a reward for being smart with your money
• Buying lunch and coffees each day adds up very quickly, so consider preparing food at home
• Supermarkets have weekly sales, so look out for them and stock up
• Pay rent first! This is important
• Student discounts are everywhere, from lunch specials to stationery, so take advantage of them
• Stick to happy hour if you feel like a few drinks after class