If you are in your final year at high school, attending University may be one of your goals for 2024.  If so, by now you will have already researched the options available and will have begun the application process.

Enrolling in University after school is an exciting and significant life phase and will reward you with new experiences, friends and growth.  It’s a great idea to be prepared financially for all the costs of a tertiary education, as it can be quite an expense.  Tuition fees, textbooks and a new social lifestyle will all add up. 

Being a student is actually one of the best introductions to money management, with new responsibilities and expenses amidst what are usually limited funds.  You may find this time of your life is an excellent initiation into how to stretch your dollars further, learn to budget and consider your spending habits more carefully.

Building up savings beforehand and having a savvy money management strategy for your student days will support you in making your time at University a life highlight. 

Simple ways to save as a uni student include:

Save before you study

Those long summer holidays that stretch out before the first day of Uni?  Use them to earn some money!   Ensure you have still plenty of time to rest and enjoy the sun of course, but a part time job a few days a week will help you to build up a reserve of savings you will be thankful for once you are studying full time. 

Stay at home

More and more young people are choosing to live at home while studying to keep their living costs down. Many tertiary students work part time while others choose to focus on their studies.  If you do have the opportunity to stay at home while at Uni and are also working part time, try to put aside some money each week so you can build savings for when you do eventually move out.  If you decide to move out of home while at Uni, consider moving into a share house or apartment with friends, over living on your own to keep living expenses down.

Set a budget

Know your weekly spend and consider carrying that on you in cash to avoid the temptation of over spending. Use a budget calculator to get you clear on where you are spending your money, and determine your priorities. 

Avoid buying your own car

It’s great to work toward the goal of buying your own set of wheels.  But while your costs are high and work prospects are limited due to study commitments, choose to take public transport, car share or cycle to Uni and work.

Buy second hand textbooks

Begin your time at University with a savvy mindset and instead of purchasing brand new course materials seek out second hand.  Your Uni will likely have a second hand text book shop or system or you can find used text books via Dedicated websites such as StudentVIP, and even eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. 

Eat cheap

Takeaways and cafe lunches gobble up your dollars quicker than you can earn them.  If you're clever with your shopping and find ways of being resourceful in the kitchen, you can save heaps of money on food.  Bring your own lunch to class rather than buying food on campus. Aim to cook most of your own dinners rather than eating out.

Party at home

Socialise with your friends at each other’s homes with a movie on the couch and a pizza to share, rather than spending a night out on the town where the cost of drinks, cabs and food can all add up quickly.

Seek out student discounts

There are heaps of student discounts available if you know where to look.  Everywhere from your local cafe, theme park, electrical goods store and movie theatres offer discounts for student cardholders.  Don’t let discounts sway you to spend beyond your budget though! It is always worth asking if a student discount applies before handing over your cash.  

Set up a direct debit

Something like the Savings Motivator from Australian Mutual Bank is a great way to gradually build up your savings and be rewarded with a high interest rate and no monthly or annual fee.  Arrange a ‘set and forget’ direct debit into the account weekly (even as little as 10% of your income is a great start) and watch your savings grow!

Once you finally leave Uni and start work full time, suddenly having a full time wage can result in some unbridled spending enthusiasm, which is fair enough, as you likely now have some extra money to enjoy life. But once the novelty of earning real money wares off, be sure to set some even more ambitious savings goals and build a solid financial foundation for your future self. 

Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and entrepreneur.  She has been featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.  

28 September 2023