It’s all about the Money, Money, Money!
Money – it’s both liberating and restrictive. It’s a tough topic to address for anyone, but being open about your circumstances will always mean you’re trying to do the best with what you’ve got. First off, you have to know what you’ve got, and what is available to you. Do your research, and be prepared.
The Australian Government provides financial assistance and advice through the following options:
StudyAssist provides information for students about government assistance for financing tertiary study.
Centrelink provides financial assistance options for people who are studying, training or undertaking an Australian apprenticeship.
Youth Allowance provides financial help for people aged 16 to 24 years who are studying fulltime, completing an Australian apprenticeship full-time, training or looking for work.
Austudy provides financial help if you are 25 years or over and in approved full-time study, completing an apprenticeship or training.
ABSTUDY provides financial help for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are studying or undertaking an apprenticeship.
Remote Area Allowance provides extra financial help for people receiving certain income support payments who are living in a remote area.
Start-up Loans provide tax-free financial help for full-time students studying an approved course at a higher education institution. If you receive Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY Living Allowance you may be eligible. You can apply for a loan through your Centrelink online account.
Relocation Scholarship provides an annual payment to help certain students in higher education who are required to live away from their family home while studying.
Scholarships, Grants and Bursaries
There are a lot of different organisations offering scholarships, grants and financial assistance. Help is out there, you just need to find it. Start with your careers advisor if you are in high school – start this process early (Year 11 or start of Year 12) and keep on it. New scholarships, grants and funding open up all the time, so be vigilant.
Community groups like CEF foundations, as well as Rotary and Country Women’s Association branches offer scholarship and grant opportunities. Local councils are also another good avenue of enquiry.
When exploring what universities you’d like to attend, check out the scholarships they have available – these will be available to you if you get accepted there.
At uni a good place to start is at your student services centre. If you find yourself with cash flow troubles (for example: bond, rent-in-advance, winter fuel bills) many tertiary institutions offer short-term, no interest loans to help students out. Visit your student services or administration centre to find out more information.
The CEF Scholarships Guide
Each year, CEF publishes a Scholarships Guide to help rural and regional students who require financial support for further study. The guide contains a general list of scholarships available from our education partners, including specific scholarships for rural, regional and Indigenous students. You can also check the financial assistance or scholarships section of university websites or phone the course coordinator for more information.
So many scholarships go unawarded, so apply, apply, apply! You have nothing to lose.
There are apps and online tools to help you keep your finances under control by tracking your income and expenses.
The managing your money section at www.moneysmart.gov.au has lots of information about living on a low income, budgeting, saving and making decisions around your money.
Preparing a budget is the best method of controlling costs and understanding how much money you need to live on. The budget planner in the tools and resources section at www.moneysmart.gov.au provides an excellent, easy to use budgeting tool. It also has a savings goal calculator, a track my spend app (so you know where your money is going and stick within your spending limit) as well as where to get help with debt.
Make sure you put some savings aside for major expenses, such as beginning of semester textbooks. Remember, even small expenses add up over time.
Some banks offer special deals and benefits for students. Ask and look for accounts with no account keeping fees, no minimum deposit amounts and no minimum balance.
Go to www.moneysmart.gov.au for unbiased information to help you choose the right account for you.
A $4 coffee every day adds up to $1460 a year.
Can you really afford that?
Being a minimalist student
Discounts and the art of embracing less stuff
Being a student you will learn to be frugal, spot a bargain, and take advantage of a discount. Get on the bargain-hunting train as soon as you can, although this doesn’t mean you should just buy it because it’s cheap. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it – embrace the minimalism trend and see how you like it.
If you’re after something specific – from textbook to t-shirt – check out noticeboards, Gumtree, eBay and the good old op shop. There will be plenty of cheap hidden treasures just waiting for you.
Having a job means more than extra money. It also gives you productive downtime away from study and uni as well as the opportunity to broaden your social network and develop your skills.
Balance, as always, is the key. Neglecting study for work could be an expensive mistake, as repeating a subject can cost a lot more than the money you earned working. Working in your uni breaks could be a better option if you find it hard to keep up with your study and hold down a job.
It may feel like we’re approaching this topic early in the game, but more and more you’ll be presenting yourself to potential employers through internships, work experience and via networking events. Your ‘personal brand’ presented through your social media feeds and activity is important.
We all stalk or stickybeak through someone’s social media feeds after meeting them – potential employers or professional contacts are the same. What you post and share will have an influence over your professional life!
Here are some links that you might find useful when being conscience of your personal branding:
What even is a personal brand and do I need one?
Five social media mistakes that will hurt your job search
Seven social media mistakes that could damage your career
Bad social media behaviour
If you want to keep posting and use your social media presence as an asset to an employer here are some tips that will help you:
Employer proof your social media presence
How to work proof your social media accounts
Lots of unis have employment services to help you find a part-time job. You can also look for work online, in local newspapers or even while you are out and about (businesses often post notices in their windows).
Asking around or approaching a business directly can give you the advantage of finding out about a job before it is advertised. Make sure you take a resumé to leave with them. There may be no job now but there could be one in the future. Employers like people with initiative.
You don’t need to have a lengthy document with years of work experience. Most employers are looking for student employees who are responsible, reliable and enthusiastic.
As well as any work experience you have, include your involvement in things that demonstrate these qualities. For example, having held a position of responsibility at school and any achievements in volunteer or community work. Include any awards you have received, your participation in team activities such as sports and your demonstrated commitment to other activities like music or dance.
You won’t be expected to know everything about a job before you start, but you will need to be able to demonstrate on your resumé and in interviews that you are willing to listen, learn and work hard.
A reference is an endorsement from a third party who has worked with you before, either in paid or voluntary work. Ask previous employers to write a few paragraphs about your skills and work ethic. You can also ask community leaders or teachers to write a character reference outlining your key qualities.
A fair amount of you will be living away from home, and the desire to head home will be overwhelming at times. But, it can be expensive especially if long distances are at play.
If you need to fly, train or bus home ALWAYS ask if student discounts are offered. Majority of the time it will be a ‘yes’.
If flying is the only way home sign up to Flight Centre or STA Travel to receive offers via email. If you know about it and book early enough you can snag a bargain. Another good option might be to ask for vouchers or money towards travel costs from family and friends for birthdays and Christmas presents. Who needs stuff when you just want to see you favourite people in the world on those special occasions?
If roadtripping is an option see if any of your fellow students come from the same area and want to roadtrip with you. The advantage of splitting fuel bills, shared driving and company will far outweigh some of their questionable music choices along the way.
Put the call out on noticeboards, uni intranet boards, Instagram and Facebook, but be clear where you are going and what dates and times you will be travelling.
Be sure to be clear about splitting costs of fuel, a nice way to approach it would be “Are you happy to split the cost of fuel with me?” or “Since we’re taking my car would you be OK chipping in for fuel? A tank of fuel is usually about $XX”. By giving the a rough dollar amount you are allowing them to budget and be prepared. Save goes if you’re the one catching the ride!
Who knows – you could find a new friend!
Talking about Money
Opening up with parents/family and friends about money can be hard, but it will offer you support and understanding.
Being open with your parents/family about money will assure them that you’re approaching one of life’s most annoying subjects respectfully and with a mature attitude. Always be honest, admit when you’ve made a mistake and try to understand each other’s reactions – sometimes some breathing space might be needed.
Some articles about money to share with your parents:
Parents and students – aligning your financial goals
Having the money talk
Money chats with friends can be a bit awkward, but it could be the best chat you ever have. Laying down what you can and can’t afford is not something to be ashamed of and you be honest about it for all your sakes, here are some easy excuses “I’ve allocated my budget this week”, “I can’t afford that without taking on another shift”, “I’m saving for …”, “I just paid my phone bill”. Learning when to be able to say yes and no will be important for all your relationships in life.
Sound advice from those who have gone before
- Work as much as you can the summer before you start uni so you can begin your new adventure with some money in the bank and take time to settle in and enjoy the process without stressing about finances.
- Keep the money needed for fixed expenses such as regular bills, in a separate bank account and don’t use it for anything else.
- Try to save a small amount every week – it all adds up. $10 a week over a year will give you $520 to pay for a holiday, Christmas presents, medical or dental expenses.
- Before making purchases, think in terms of needs not wants. Is it something you can do without? Can you get it another time?
- Keep receipts for all purchases and money transactions to check against your bank statements.
- Be aware of and try to avoid things that blow out your budget, such as impulse purchases.
- Try not to have a credit card, as they create debt. Only use you debit card instead.
- If your budget shows you are on your way to serious debt, you may need to take action and move to cheaper accommodation or sell your car and use public transport.
- Seek advice. Don’t be embarrassed if your finances hit a few hurdles. Visit your student services centre and ask about talking with a financial planner.
- The trick with your student budget is to make the most of what you’ve got by keeping a lookout for savings opportunities and cutting back wherever possible.
You could and should:
- Keep an eye out for student discounts. Many businesses and services offer great discounts for students from haircuts to meals, to movie tickets to bus fares. It never hurts to ask!
- Cut back the number of times you go out per week and limit how much you spend on a night out.
- Buy food that’s in season. It’s cheaper, healthier and tastes better.
- Look at the number of times you travel home or to friends’ houses and see if there are cheaper travel alternatives. You may need to look at cutting back on your trips.
- Set a maximum limit for your spending on takeaways, gifts and clothes.
- Take your own lunch instead of buying food on campus.
- When you go out – take only a certain amount of cash, and don’t take your card. This will mean you know you only have that amount to spend before going home, without being tempted to just tap and go.