Being a uni student and being broke go hand-in-hand; everything is exxy and sometimes all you’ll be able to afford is Mi Goreng, 7 Eleven coffees and cheap Aldi wine.
Textbooks cost you a limb, overpriced coffee doesn’t do the trick anymore and travelling to and from uni puts quite a big hole in your bank account.
Maintaining a stable income while studying is a struggle and saving money is a hard slog for most of us, especially when we’re yet again on ASOS treating ourselves after submitting that one torturous essay.
But it’s probably best to start good spending habits early, so here’s five ways to avoid being broke at uni.
1. You don’t need the textbook
The bane of every student’s financial existence is the infamous textbooks that your lecturers strongly advise you have.
If you’re lucky, some of your subjects won’t require them but most of us will be asked to fork out $100+ on a book that you may or may not use for a single semester.
The reality is that most of the time you don’t need the entire textbook–you’re probably only going to need specific chapters through the semester (and even then, you could probably get by without it). Because of this, avoid immediately coughing up your cash.
Instead, hunt online for a free version or see if you can scan the pages you need from your uni library’s copy.
If you do absolutely need the book, try and buy it second-hand; a lil highlighting and wear and tear never hurt anyone.
2. Change your social habits
A major thing you need to change is choosing how you spend your money. You’re going to have to make tough decisions like phasing out overpriced coffee and saying no to your mates when you just don’t have the cash for a night out.
More than likely, they’ll understand that you’re a broke uni student who can’t afford the entry fee, the constant flow of vodka Redbulls to keep you drunk, the Uber home and last, but certainly not least, the pinnacle of every big night- the big Maccas feed on the way home.
Point is, a night out can do some major damage to your bank account. It’s time to start opting for cheaper alternatives and accepting that you can’t say yes to everything.
3. Find the right job
Balancing deadlines and committing to a job can be tough. But it goes without saying that in order to pay for your expenses and have a bit of spending money, you’ll need some sort of income.
There’s a tonne of flexible jobs that understand your uni schedule and working as a casual has the added benefit of putting in unavailabilities when you have exams or assignments coming up.
On-campus jobs are usually pretty convenient and hospo gigs usually don’t cut into class hours, but look around and see what’s going and what will slot into your schedule.
4. Take advantage of discounts
Being money savvy means taking advantage of every possible discount you can get your hands on. Thankfully, this is one of the best things about being a student–a truckload of discounts and deals that get offered to you.
If you do some research, a lot of major brands out there offer student discounts and all you need to do is redeem them.
Plus, if your uni was like mine, your student card won’t have an expiry date and you’ll be able to use it for the rest of your life to get cheap movie tickets.
5. Make and stick to a budget
Sounds very adult, right? Keeping track of your spending habits meticulously is tiresome. But the sooner you start, the easier it is to manage your money.
Even writing down where your money is going throughout the week on the Notes on your phone is a good place to start (even though it’s mildly terrifying to realise how much you spend on food).
Draft up an Excel sheet of all your necessities–rent, food, travel, the occasional festival. Then factor in some things you’d like to save up for while you’re at uni like a car or travelling. Each time a pay check lands in your account, set aside your necessities and then chuck the rest in a separate account.
Being a poor uni student is definitely a learning curve in life. One thing high school should teach you is how to survive uni on a budget. But for now, consider the above advice (which is coming from a fourth-year student) and watch your hard earned cashed slowly build up.