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Planning a Budget for a University Student

It can be challenging for a university student to juggle education, work, and play. Furthermore, living on an average student’s weekly budget can be a bit tricky, especially when they’re still adjusting to life in a university.

The essence of financial freedom for students is to be able to set up a budgeting plan to protect their money and income stream. It also means they are able to eliminate their debts and won’t have to borrow again, if possible.

While your spare time offers plenty of hours for work, it can be more restricted during the semester. As you find yourself awaiting your next paycheck, read on some of our tips in planning a budget for university students.

Create a university student budget

A sound budget can go a long way. Setting a budget on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis is one vital way to keep track of your spending.

Students should take the time to sit down and make a list of all their known expenses, as well as their savings or income. Some things to include are:

  • Rent (if living out of home, in a shared home, or student accommodation)
  • Groceries
  • Public transport costs
  • Fuel
  • Utilities (electricity, gas, water)
  • Phone and internet
  • Any owing repayments, such as car repayments
  • Money to set aside for savings.

You can then allocate money towards other expenses based on how much you have left to spend. This may include:

  • Entertainment
  • Dining out
  • Outings
  • Any streaming services, e.g. Netflix or Disney+ 

Make use of your student card 

Students get concessions all over the place. These discounts may only save you quite a few dollars, but it all adds up. Make use of student concessions wherever possible. Based on where you study, you may be able to access:

  • Cheap movie tickets
  • Half-price public transport (if your state permits)
  • Discounts on gym memberships or exercise classes
  • Sport games
  • Events
  • Discounted access to theme parks, zoos and similar
  • Discounted haircuts
  • Retail stores
  • Special deals on software, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe programs.

OzStudies has an extended list, which includes discounts at Apple, Optus, JB Hi-Fi, The Iconic, Spotify, and more.

Get smart at the supermarket 

Groceries will take up a huge chunk of anybody’s average student weekly budget. Plan your grocery shopping around what’s special to save a considerable amount of money in the long term.

Stock up on household supplies or non-perishable food items if they’re on sale. You can also incorporate some supermarket specials into your weekly meals, rather than living off two-minute noodles.

As a university student, you can save money on groceries in a number of ways:

  • Always make an accompanying shopping list
  • Plan your weekly meals, including those with shared ingredients, so you can stretch your money further
  • Don’t shop when hungry
  • Eat less meat
  • Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season
  • Shop around IGA, Aldi, and other stores to see their specials.
  • Look out for rewards programs, such as those at Coles and Woolworths.

While sales can be great, be careful of buying stuff you don’t need. The same can be said about buying too much just to let it all go to waste.

Be thrifty with your purchases 

Students can be thrifty and buy pre-loved rather than brand new. By looking for second-hand options, you can save money on different things — secondhand textbooks, clothes, furniture, electronics, and cars.

You can go shopping at garage sales; check out social media forums, Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Gumtree, and other second hand stores; or simply ask around for items you need.

A university student can stretch entertainment budget 

Having a uni social life and joining your friends for casual dinner and drinks can be fun, but the costs can easily add up. It can also be expensive if you head out multiple times a week. If you start to run out of money, think of some alternatives to your activities.

  • Instead of eating out, you could cook your own feast and have your friends come over for a dinner party. It would be better if everyone could bring in some food.
  • Instead of heading to the cinema, have a movie night at home.
  • Explore on the weekends by hiring bikes and electric scooters at an affordable price, or get active by taking nature walks.

Find ways to make extra cash on the side

Having a little extra cash is never a bad thing. If you find that your income cannot cover everything you need, there are lots of things you can do to earn money.

  • Perhaps you could deliver food for Menulog, Deliveroo, or similar. You could use your car or bike for food delivery services.
  • You could babysit once or a couple of nights a week, walk dogs on the weekend, or pick up work tutoring other students.
  •  Another simple idea is to hold a garage sale to sell some of your unwanted items.

If you liked our “Planning a Budget for a University Student” and find it useful, check our blogs regularly for more information on how to get out of debt and updates on the best budgeting apps in Australia.