It can be difficult to keep to a budget while you are studying, particularly when you are in a new and unfamiliar country. In addition to covering the costs of tuition and accommodation, you also have the added costs that come with exploring your new home, such as organising sightseeing trips and travelling home for the summer break.
If you’re worried about how you’ll maintain your bank balance during your studies, read on as we share our budgeting tips.
Look for part-time work
The great thing about studying in Australia is that international students are permitted to work part time during their studies.Permission to work is automatically granted when you receive your student visa.In addition to helping you fund your time abroad, working while you study gives you the opportunity to practise your English language skills and may also provide valuable industry experience if you are working in an area relevant to your course. Because international students are required to study full time, there is a limit of 40 hours of paid work per fortnight, with unlimited hours permitted during semester breaks. See Working in Australia for more information.
Plan out your expenses
It’s important to plan out your budget based on your income and your expenses. The easiest way to do this is to divide your expenses into ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ items. If you are paying rent or campus accommodation fees, this is considered an essential expense and should be factored into your budget, while non-essential expenses may include seeing a movie with friends. It helps to work out your income and expenses over a certain period (a week, fortnight or month). It’s also worth setting aside a little bit of money for an emergency, such as an urgent trip home. Online tools like the MoneySmart budget planner can be very helpful.
Look for cheaper options
One of the easiest ways to keep to a budget is to look for cheaper alternatives. For example, if you are meeting up with friends for lunch or dinner, you’ll find that some cafés and restaurants serve meals at lower prices or have ‘specials’ for students. Major cinemas also offer discounts, usually on a designated day each week, or offer cheaper tickets if you sign up to their members’ club. When shopping for clothes, look out for cheaper student deals (many stores offer discounts if you present your identification card) and factory outlets, which can be found in most major cities. When grocery shopping, consider your local market or discount supermarket.
Speak to advisers on campus
Many institutions will have a financial services office on campus, where you will find advisers whose role is to provide financial help to students. They may be able to help you to plan a budget, provide information about your part-time work options and also give you some handy hints for budgeting. It can also help to speak to the accommodation services team — they will be able to provide you with information about your full range of accommodation options (and prices) to help you find something that suits your budget.