From buying textbooks and paying rent to repaying your uni fees, being a student isn’t cheap. And considering that studying most likely means that you can only work casually or part-time, managing your money can feel overwhelming.
Whether you just want some tips on how to save on everyday costs or you need help making big decisions such as opening a savings account or signing up for your first credit card, here's how you can get your finances in order this semester.
Pay less for text books
It’s hard to believe that students are still required to buy text books in the digital age, but it’s a reality that can set you back hundreds of dollars (or more) depending on your course. Before you hit the bookstore, see if your uni has a second-hand book shop where you can pick up cheaper copies of your books. You can also look on student forums, student groups on Facebook and eBay for less expensive alternatives.
Take advantage of student discounts
From discounts at the movies and online retailers to restaurants and transport, there are plenty of ways for you to get more bang for your buck as a student. Depending on where you’re shopping, you may need to show your student card or enter a promotional code to save. You should also look out for promotional sales as well. Lots of retailers like THE ICONIC and ASOS regularly host exclusive sales for students during “back to school” periods.
Consider a savings account
There’s no better time to start saving than the present. And no, I’m talking about taking a KeepCup to your local cafe to save a few dollars on your morning coffee (although every little bit does count).
You should always have an endgame in mind so that you know exactly what you’re working towards. For example, you might be aiming to save $8,000 for a round trip across Europe during your uni break. Once you’ve got a goal in mind, you should create a timeline for your savings. For example, if you plan to save $8,000 so you can go on your holiday within the next two years, you’d need to debit around $330 into your savings account each month.
You might want to consider a bonus saver account that’ll reward you if you make a deposit but no withdrawals for the month. This is a good option if you’re a more experienced saver or you need something to help curb the temptation to borrow from your savings. Use our handy savings goal calculator to get started.
Compare low rate and low fee credit cards
If you want to divvy up your cash flow each month, you could also consider a credit card. If you’re studying, you might want to consider a low rate or low fee credit card that will help keep your costs to a minimum. These cards usually have lower minimum income requirements and a lower credit limit, which means you’ll still have more financial flexibility without the temptation to overspend.
Not only can you use your credit card to cover costs in between pay cheques, but you can also use it to build up your credit history. Just make sure that you’re spending responsibly (and within your means) and aiming to pay off your balance in full each month. Otherwise, your balance can grow with interest and you could risk falling into debt.
There are a few different credit cards with low rates and fees on the market, so make sure to compare your options and ensure you meet the eligibility requirements before you apply.
Consider a personal loan for big ticket items
While a credit card may be a better option for smaller, everyday purchases, you might want to consider a personal loan if you need to pay off something big, for example, a car or another big-ticket purchase.
However, similar to a credit card, you must repay everything you owe, so it’s important that you only borrow what you can afford to repay within the loan term. You may also have to pay late payment fees, a one-off establishment fee and monthly account-keeping fees, so you should make sure that these costs are manageable. Use our Personal Loan repayment calculator to see what you could afford.
There is no one best way to handle your finances as a student, but these are just a few of the ways that you can try to keep on top of everything while you’re at uni.