20 money hacks for the uni student on a budget

Hi, I’m Dimitri – CQUniversity alumnus and now, a Financial Adviser.

Surviving on a student budget is tough (trust me, I’ve been there!). If you haven’t already, check out my blog on how to plan and prepare financially for life as a student.

Once you’ve done that, keep reading for my top 20 tips to save money (in ways you may not have thought of before!)…

1. Eat before you go shopping

If you go food shopping when you’re full, you’ll be focused on getting what you need, instead of what you want – like lollies and snacks we don’t really need (for our waistlines or wallets!)

2. Don’t buy just because it’s on SALE.

With some smart budgeting, you will have saved some money to splurge on fun things, but that’s not to say you MUST buy something just because it’s on sale.

3. LIMIT on takeout and eating out.

Takeaway is a sure way to throw money away. The exact number of times you can afford to eat out per month comes down to your budgeting skills — if you want to increase the amount of times per month, something else will have to give – like maybe Netflix or that Spotify subscription you have.

4. Break bad habits

Smoking is expensive, so is the pub. There are plenty of helpful resources to get you on the right path if you’re ready to kick your habit.

Just think, imagine the holidays I can go on if I quit smoking….

5. Rethink owning a car

Get around by using public transport, walk, rideshare or even look at accommodation close to campus so you can walk there.

According to reports, the cost of running a small car in 2018 is around $130 per week (this includes fuel, maintenance, rego, insurance and repayments).

6. Just pay the bill

Paying bills on time will mean you avoid late fees and penalties. Look into direct debiting your bills so they are paid on time.

  1. If you have a credit card, use for emergencies only. Otherwise, ditch it!

Credit cards are for emergencies only. Emergencies like I-have-no-food-in-the-fridge, not I-really-need-the-latest tech. If you do use the card, pay it off as quickly as possible to avoid accruing interest. Otherwise, it will be like a leech sucking money off you monthly!

8. Share house society

Take it from me, living on your own is a luxury and one that is expensive.

There’s plenty of time to live alone! Some of the best parts of your uni days will be socialising, and living with a big group of friends won’t just be great company, but it will mean you can all share expenses! Or, if it’s an option, live at home.

9. Use your mate’s Netflix

Take your sibling’s or friend’s password and share the experience!

11. Look into pre-paid phones

Mobiles are expensive and so are the long-term plans. It does pay to look after your phone and not upgrade – just pre-pay your SMS, calls and internet.

12. Student discounts

Your student and concession cards should be your best mate!

13. Have a side hustle

There are plenty of ways to earn extra cash, it’s just a matter of thinking about what you’re good at.

Like to cook for example? Find a way to sell your baked treats (think local markets). If you have a passion for something, find ways to sell your passion!

14. Think minimalistic and sell your items.

How good is a spring clean? It can really make you feel like a new person. And, imagine if you can also make some money from it!

Think of all the items you could sell –furniture you don’t use anymore, your old textbooks, clothes – the options are endless!

Use the Facebook Marketplace or Sell/Buy/Swap, use your own Facebook page or uni bulletin boards – you could even have a garage sale.

15. BORROW, DON’T BUY – Go to the Library

Libraries are the most underused service there is.

Don’t buy books you will only need for a short period of time – head for the library instead. Also, buy the books you do need second-hand through other students.

16. Don’t buy water

Invest in a good quality water bottle which you can fill up for free. Water is a free liquid, don’t go paying for fancy brands.

Love juice? Save money by making your own at home — better yet share the cost with your housemates.

17. DIY Coffee at home

Make your own coffee or tea at home to take to class. A coffee is an average $5 per day.

Over a week is $35, and over a month is $140. Over a year it is $1,680. That is a flight to Europe!

18. Re-think that loan

Try never take out a loan for anything that’s unrelated to your education. If you take a loan for car or a holiday, you will have something else to pay off in future.

19. Get a night-job and plan your timetable

Plan your timetable and find time to squeeze work in. If you don’t study at night, find a casual job that lets you work a few hours across some nights of the week for easy, quick money.

  1. Explore an Op Shop

Buying retail is expensive and you can get your hands on equally as cool second-hand items at an op shop. Look on Facebook, or in second-hand shops and make it a challenge to find something that suits your wardrobe.

Bonus Hack: Apply for a CQUni scholarship!

CQUniversity has a wide range of scholarships and all students should check their eligibility.

No matter your situation, everyone needs a helping hand from time to time and CQUni is proud to offer a wide range of scholarships, awards and financial assistance programs. You could also benefit from a student loan and a budgeting tool to help you manage the cost of going to university!

Check out cqu.edu.au/scholarships for more information.

Try these money-saving hacks and let me know if they help ease your life on a student budget!


This article was written by CQUniversity alumnus Dimitri Kondilis (BFinPlan), Financial Adviser at Soundbridge Financial Services. This advice is general in nature. For specific advice that applies to your individual circumstances, students should seek their own personal advice. Please note that this content does not necessarily reflect the views of CQUniversity.

cqunilifeguest (https://cqunilife.com)


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