You’ve moved out, you’ve got your own little pad and so what if it’s falling around your ears? You’ve got a shiny new class timetable, a whole new set of dazzlingly interesting people to hang around with no one to chastise you for coming home late, eating salt and vinegar chips for breakfast or wearing the same shirt three days in a row. Except perhaps the person next to you on the bus. It’s a great feeling. And can, at times, be somewhat overwhelming on the senses and the hip pocket. Here’s how to avoid getting immersed in debt while at uni, and still have a great time.
Good finances are all about the decisions you make. And if you think a budget is boring, think of it this way. A budget is nothing other than a way to do what you really want to do, and avoid spending money on things you don’t really care about. Want to have beers every lunch time with artsy-looking fashionistas? Sweet, have fun. But it might come at the expense of a trip to South East Asia over summer. Avoid dropping into debt by ensuring you’ve covered all your necessities; rent, groceries, utilities, phone and net bills. Try and save some money and contribute to super, it’s a smart move. The rest is yours to do with what you will, it’s all about the choice.
Credit Card Poison
The whole world was opening up, and for some reason I thought I should have the budget to go with it. 5 years later and I’m still trying to rid myself of the pernicious credit card debt that can come from that kind of thinking. If you can’t pay it off at the end of the month, get rid of it until you can. Better yet, don’t have one except for actual emergencies. This is one of the few times of your life you actually have a disposable income, enjoy it.
Things get rough, don’t just ride off the back of your credit card cash advance facility. It’s embarrassing to ask for help, to admit to someone else you can’t handle it all, but it’s a much better alternative to getting mired in debt. Everyone has been there, so don’t worry about what people think. Talk to your uni about student loans, they usually have a facility for a loan of about $500 if you can prove the need. It might be enough to sort yourself out. It’s also worth talking to your bank, better those interest rates than those of a credit card.
You’ve got a lot of deadlines as a student, so take the work out of remembering them. Set up a calender on your phone with all your assignment due dates and a reminder when you need to pay bills. Set up automatic deductions for as many of the bills as possible, and make sure you have the money in your account to avoid overdrawing fees.
Ask for student discounts on everything. It’s never going to hurt, and you’ll be surprised where you might end up saving money. The same goes with Centrelink- the website it a minefield, so why not set up a meeting at your local office and talk to someone about your situation? There are loads of options out there, so it’s worthwhile checking if any of them might help you out.