My Top 5 Thrifty Tips for Struggling University Students

Textbooks 

The #1 rule when buying textbooks is to always buy second-hand textbooks, or discounted textbooks. I know it can be really tempting to buy that fresh out-of-plastic-wrapping copy (because I was guilty of this when I first started university), but purchasing $700+ worth of new textbooks you’ll just be using for one semester isn’t 1. sustainable in the long-term period, and 2. is going to kill your budget.

Negotiation for cheap desirable prices is also something you need to focus on when dealing with a seller, especially if the quality of the textbook is not up to scratch, or if they want you to pay for postage.

Alternatively, you can rent the textbook, or buy the E-textbook as it’s a cheaper option – preferably from student buy/sell sites for low prices compared to direct publishers. But if you really want to have a hard-copy version, then all you need to do is print out the relevant chapters studied in the course from the E-textbook PDF. This will literally only cost you an extra AU $15 tops if you have your own printer (or even less depending on the price of the bulk of paper). Plus, you can highlight and annotate however much you want! (Probably not the best advice if you’re super environment-friendly but remember, you can always recycle the paper at the end.)

Food and drinks 

Look to places that do student deals (e.g. 10% discounts) such as nearby takeaways, cafes, or other eateries close to/in the university. If not, look for pubs or places which have (daily) deals/specials, or another option is to look for those fast-food coupons found on apps/online, and vouchers provided to you at Orientation. 

Becoming a member of your university’s Student Union or faculty’s Society is also another great place to start. Not only does membership mean free food and drinks, it also gives you first priority access, free movie screenings, and even automatic registration to events and other great offers! (Only downsides to memberships is 1. the fee, and 2. you may or may not utilise all the offers.)

Or the easy way out is to pack some lunch and snacks to take to uni.

(P.S. Don’t be afraid to ask if places do student discounts, as you’d rather be safe than sorry when purchasing a meal you could have gotten for a cheaper price. In fact, some places do discounts if you pay with cash.)

Stationary/freebies

FREEBIES! Orientation (O’Week)/Open Day, pop-up stalls, career exhibition(s), are all the great places on and off campus to collect free stationary items; pens, pencils, erasers, rulers, whiteout, and even other extra items like lip balms, stress balls, drink bottles and lollies! Why spend money on high-end stationary when you can just get freebies at the tip of your finger? Also, keep in mind that stationary does not need to be attractive; it is just a tool you use to write/erase with and binned when there’s no more of it.

Transportation

While it’s great having a license to drive, parking fees at university/public parking places can cost you a great deal of money, especially when you get slapped with a fine for over-time. So try and use public transport as much as possible, whether catching the bus, train, or tram, because not only is it cheaper (I mean how much cheaper can it get for AU $2-3 for a ride back and forth from uni?), but you’re also saving yourself a lot of effort and petrol money. And if you’re like Cadel Evans, you can cycle to uni, or leg it if you’re like Usain Bolt! Try and avoid driving as much as possible (unless circumstances do not permit), or swap some days for public transport and other days for driving.

Birthdays 

So it’s that time of the year again where all your friends are turning a year older, which also means you need more money to buy more gifts. But don’t stress! As there is one tip I’d like to give you – and that is, rather than buying a gift alone, ask your friends if they would like to do a joint birthday gift! (i.e. splitting the purchase price between a few friends to buy one gift.) This decreases the monetary burden, and will also make you feel more at ease in terms of managing your finances.

So here are my top 5 tips on how to save and be smart with money when you’re at university, and hopefully, you found these tips super helpful!

– itsjacey

 

EXTRA TIP:

AfterPay
For those of you who are unfamiliar with AfterPay, it is a new Australian payments company which allows you to “shop now, and pay later”, on retail purchases both online, and even some in-store. How their system works is simple; pay the first out of four equal installments of the transaction, with each installment due thereafter to be paid every fortnight. I find this payment system to be really smart, innovative, and helpful, because struggling uni students will find it difficult to pay the full price upfront, so what this system does is it gives you time to make up for that payment over the course of two months.

(One thing to note is that AfterPay is only affiliated with certain retail stores as at present, but more information on this company can be found here.)

Disclaimer: not sponsored by AfterPay.

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