7 tips on how to save as a student
More than half of Aussie students have money troubles. If you're among them, these tips could take some stress off your plate.
If you're a student and you're strapped for cash, you're probably not alone. According to the most recent Student Finances Survey, 58% of Australian students regularly worry about money.
But there are lots of ways to get a better grip on your finances, even when you're not earning much. From making a realistic budget to learning savvy money habits, here are our top seven ways to save as a student.
Use your student card
Wherever you spend, always ask if there are student discounts. It might feel embarrassing at first but make it a habit and you'll soon see how much you can save.
Thousands of brands offer student discounts across Australia including Apple, Optus and THE ICONIC. For example, you can score 10% off eligible Optus plans, including 4G Home Internet plans. Don't be shy – who doesn't want cheap Internet or a discount on new tech?
Make a budget
At the end of 2020, we asked over 1,000 Australians if they'd made a budget in the last 2 years. Close to half (46%) said they had. If you're yet to join them, it might be time you did.
There are heaps of free apps that can help you start a budget, track your expenses and work out where you might be able to save. MoneySmart's budget planner is also a super simple template that's good for first-timers.
Compare your Internet plan
If you've recently moved out of home you might be surprised to learn how expensive home Internet can be, but there are affordable options out there.
First up, always compare your plans and look for a provider which offers low-cost options, flexible contracts and those all-important student discounts.
For example, that Optus 10% student discount on 4G Home Internet includes plans with 200GB or 500GB monthly data. That brings the 200GB plan down to $53.10 per month (from $59). So the minimum total cost is $1,274.40 with no upfront fees, such as modem cost, on a 24-month plan. There are also month-to-month plans available if you prefer the flexibility of not being locked into a contract.
And since 4G is portable, you'll be able to take your set-up with you when you move, if your new place is in a 4G coverage area. And you'll be able to upgrade to 5G - without paying any cancellation fees - when it becomes available in your area.
Compare other utilities
Comparing the cost of electricity and gas can also lead to big savings. Finder comparison at the time of writing shows that a typical Sydney city centre residence could pay as little as $267 a quarter for electricity or as much as $301 a quarter, depending on the provider.
For gas, a two-person household in the same area can expect to pay as little as $180 per quarter, to as much as $253 a quarter. Over the course of a year, that's a potential difference of $482 across both utilities and it's better in your pocket than theirs.
Share as much as you can
A problem shared is a problem halved, or quartered, or – well, you get the point. The same applies to expenses. If you find someone to share them with, you're on the hook for less.
Find a housemate to share rent with, consider joining a car share service or split the cost of streaming services with friends or family.
You may even be able to share your skills for some extra cash or swap them for someone else's. You could tutor a school kid in the evenings or swap your proofreading skills for a bag of groceries.
Shop – and sell – second-hand
Books, clothes and furniture can all be found for a fraction of their original price just by shopping second-hand. Plus, it's better for the environment.
Your university is likely to have groups for students passing on second-hand course materials, but also look in op shops, on Facebook marketplace and Gumtree. It's also worth looking for community groups on Facebook, where members often pass things on for free.
This works both ways too. If you no longer need something and it's still in decent condition, consider reselling it to save a little extra cash.
Embedding better habits
It can seem like a hassle trying to save money when you already have studying to worry about, but the earlier you embed good financial habits, the more money you can save in the long run.
Remember, always compare options no matter what you're buying. It's a tip that applies to almost every expense you'll ever incur and it's the best way to find a better deal.