How to deal with the cost of living as a student in Australia

Jeanne A. Curley

One of the most challenging things about studying in Australia is dealing with the cost of living, which is far from cheap at the best of times and has been skyrocketing recently.

If you are a student on a limited budget, these helpful tips can help you make ends meet.

Set yourself a budget.

Work out what you need to spend. For example, your budget should cover the cost of accommodation, tuition, transport, and food. Don’t forget to leave some wiggle room so you can put some aside for an emergency.

Popular budgeting apps in Australia that integrate with most banks include Pocketbook and WeMoney.

Stack rewards as you spend.

Many stores offer special discounts for students. Additionally, you may be able to save money when you purchase via one of the cashback websites.

Most banks have a range of credit cards with rewards, but these will generally be difficult for a student to get considering the lack of established credit history. Afterpay is an option since they do not carry out a credit check, but their rewards program is limited.

Temporary residents, including students, can get a credit card. These generally will not offer any rewards points but have the benefit of establishing your credit in Australia.

Don’t overspend on food.

Food is likely to be one of your highest costs. But there are still ways to buy good food without blowing your budget. It just requires a little more strategy.

  • Shop at low-cost supermarkets. Aldi and Lidl are both in Australia.
  • Shop at night. Food approaching its sell-by date will be discounted to clear in the evening.
  • Buy the supermarket’s own-brand products. They’re probably just as good as the more expensive branded products anyway.
  • Buy in bulk where possible. Stock up on the staples, especially when there is a deal.

Stay entertained on a budget.

Australia’s outdoor-friendly lifestyle means plenty of low-cost things to do without spending much (or anything). Beach walks, hikes through the bush, swimming, etc., are free.

If you want to go out, weekday nights are when you can find the best discounts on everything from food and drink to cinema tickets.

Look for part-time or casual work.

There’s only a certain amount of money you can save before you run out of ideas. Making money will help cover the cost of living, help build your network, and develop skills you can use in your career.

Australia is known for paying a living wage. International students can work up to 40 hours per fortnight while studying on a student visa.

Bars, cafes, and restaurants are traditionally students’ first port of call for work. You may also work as a driver or service provider in the gig economy.

Australia may be an expensive place to study, live, and play, but with careful planning, it’s possible to live life without spending a fortune.

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