How to be Smart With Your Money While at Uni
By Ben Robinson
The new school year is upon us once again, and for the majority of us it’s another year of living poorly – two minute noodles, skipping meals, and ‘forgetting’ to tap on your Opal card. With this in mind, and in the spirit of ‘new year, new me’, here are four ways students can be smart with their money while at university.
That’s right – that boring thing you did in year 11 maths, wondering, “when will I ever use this again?” is actually quite helpful. Budgeting is the best way to take control of your money because it involves making sure you know where every cent you earn goes. Despite the monotony of year 11 maths, budgeting is a simple skill to use. All you have to do is this:
- Work out how much money you earn per week. This includes everything from youth allowance payments to earnings from a part-time job. Add it all up and see how much you have in total.
- Next, work out how much you are guaranteed to spend each week. Rent, bills, car insurance, petrol, public transport – the lot.
- Add up your spendings, and take that figure away from your income. The figure you’re left with is how much you can actually afford to spend.
Budgeting is a great skill to have, because you never have to wonder, “Can I afford to grab lunch today?” or “Do I have enough for a few pints this weekend?” By working out how much you can afford to spend each day, week, and month of the year, you really start taking control of your own money.
Make sacrifices, find alternatives.
Nobody likes austerity, but it can be beneficial. Making sacrifices is a sure-fire way to curb your spending by cutting down on unnecessary items, but simply cutting a bunch of things out of your life is no fun. Instead, you should try and find alternatives.
For example, instead of buying a takeaway coffee a few times a week, buy a reusable cup and fill it up with coffee from home before you head out. Instead of buying lunch every day at uni, try taking a packed lunch or using leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. It might even be as easy as going out for dinner and drinks with friends every two weeks instead of every week.
Making sacrifices is a great way to manage how much you spend, but it doesn’t have to be as miserable as it sounds.
Enjoy the perks.
One of the best things about being a university student is the golden ticket we all receive before we start – our student ID. There are many perks available to students in Sydney, so you’d be a fool to not take advantage of them. It can be as simple as showing your student ID to retailers at Central Park. Keep an eye out for advertising both instore and online, as it will usually state whether they have student discounts. The big one is obviously public transport – you can apply for a student concession card either through the UTS Student Admin page or directly with Opal. Concession fares are half the price of adult fares, so a standard $3.46 fare becomes an eye-watering $1.73.
Another top trick is a StudentEdge membership. This card will entitle you to all kinds of perks and bonuses around both UTS and other retailers.
Not to mention loads of pubs and bars have discounted drink deals for different nights of the week, so if you’re willing to change from a Saturday night to a Thursday night, check to see if your locals have any offers.
So, if the thought of living yet another year as a broke student stresses you out, you desperately want to squeeze some travel time into 2018, or you think it’s finally time to step away from the two-minute noodles, hopefully these tips will help you on your way.