For most, being a poor student is the most bone-chilling financial period of your life. A truly dark economic situation for our generation is the reality, spurred on by successive governments deciding to peace out on genuine student income support and free education. Managing your finances is essential if you want to make it through it one piece.
For most of my degree, it was a choice between eating three regular meals and going to the pub with my last $50. Unfortunately, like many young people, I wasn’t one to make the best decisions regularly and would often find my bank statement in the red. Luckily, I’m a proud grifter and hustler so learnt some truly chic tricks and tips to make it through in one piece (mostly!)
Do your research and get financially literate
Unfortunately, the high school curriculum doesn’t teach you about taxes and superannuation. Most young people stumble into University with an extremely TBD understanding of money. So get ahead of the curve – The Barefoot Investor is Australia’s favourite book at the moment because so many of us struggle with good financial planning. Learn to create a budget, file your taxes and develop a savings strategy. The internet is a great place to start!
Sometimes it is as simple as creating a realistic shopping budget, preparing meals the night before and asking will this purchase spark joy.
Discounts, discounts, discounts!
I honestly made it through Uni thanks to Thai student specials and my student union membership perks. No matter what you need, there is likely a student discount for it. Be it a gym membership, haircut or newspaper subscription showing proof of enrolment can usually net you some savings. Don’t buy textbooks new – libraries and second-hand stores exist for a reason. Muh lah lah as Rihanna once said!
Scholarships, loans and Centrelink
Far too many students drop out thanks to financial struggles. Many sadly don’t realise lifelines exist. When I was beyond broke, a University bursary got me through a rough semester. A host of excellent scholarships can be accessed that open up education to the disadvantaged.
Ever feel like an exchange was out of reach? The government offers overseas loans babe! Short on rent? Most student unions have emergency loan schemes!
Of course, you want to start applying for benefits fast if you qualify. Centrelink is an administrative nightmare but nothing is sweeter then Youth Allowance hitting your account on a fortnightly basis. You’ll also get rent assistance if you’re living out of home and an energy supplement. Swag!
Find a bearable part time job
Most students today have to balance study with work. Just find something bearable. If you’re a people person, consider hospitality or call centres. Brainiacs can make great bank tutoring high schoolers. Debating coaching is the most lucrative business in town for high school argument heads. If you’re a fitness freak, personal training can have you stacking paper ASAP. Of course, the best option is to find something relevant to your field, so get on the hustings and utilise University career services.
Reach out and get support
Capitalism is great at making us feel personally responsible for our own financial destiny. Screw that, everyone deserves a world-class education without having to sacrifice nutrition. If you’re doing it tough, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m not ashamed to have used the Mum bank more than once during my degree, your parents are usually pretty happy to help you out if things get extremely TBD. Friends are often happy to shout you a meal until your next pay hits. Lecturers are generally more then happy to grant an extension if you are experiencing housing stress.