5 budget hacks for the savvy student

Your student guide to making the most of your money
Break the broke student stereotype with a few simple budgeting tricks. From making the most of student discounts to dinners on a dime, these tips will help you hit your savings goal.

Create a budget

You can't get on top of your budget if you don't have one! Getting started is simple:

  1. Determine how much you spend during an average month. This includes everything from your Netflix subscription to your rent and utility bills.
  2. Determine your income during an average month. This could include your salary from a part-time or casual job, and government allowances. Make sure you focus on your net income (the actual amount after tax and super is deducted).
  3. Determine your savings. Subtract your average monthly spending from your average monthly income. What’s left is your savings. If the difference between your spending and earnings are slim, consider ways you can cut back on variable costs (such as groceries, entertainment).
  4. Set a savings goal. Once you’ve determined your savings, set up an achievable savings goal. This can be in the form of weekly, fortnightly or monthly savings targets.


As a university student, you’re entitled to discounts for a range of products and services. Check out student discount websites such as UNiDAYS for discounts on technology, health & fitness and food, and StudentVIP for discounts on textbooks and notes. 

While you’re enrolled at the University, you’ll have free access to a variety of online applications such as Adobe Design Premium CS6 and Microsoft Office. You also may be eligible to apply for a travel concession, giving you cheaper public transit fares. 

Cook at home 

Are all those UberEATS orders adding up? Try cooking at home, it’s cheaper and healthier. Make sure to follow these tips when grocery shopping:

  1. Take a shopping list. This will save you forgetting and buying things you don’t need. 
  2. Buy in bulk. Bulk buying produce can be far cheaper than buying single items. Take advantage of buying in bulk by portioning meals in advance to store or freeze. This’ll come in handy during exam season when you may not have time to cook every night.

  3. Have a snack before shopping. It may seem silly, but when you’re not hungry you tend to buy less food. Keep a stash of granola bars or popcorn at home for future grocery trips. 

If cooking is not your strong suit, join USU Access Rewards for $45 and receive 10% off food and retail outlets across campus all year round.

If you’re on campus for a late-night class or study session, head to Abercrombie Café or Coffee @ Fisher to take advantage of the USU’s $6 After 6pm program. Even better, if you’re a USU Rewards member you can get every 7th meal free! 

Why not save money and help save the world at the same time? The USU has recently partnered with Bring Me Home to offer end-of-the-day specials at USU outlets, which not only gives you up to 70% off retail price, but helps cut down on waste too.

Join a club or society

Want to have fun on a night out but not break the budget? Take advantage of cheap social events and activities by joining a university club or society

All you’ll need to join is a USU membership, which you can sign up for free during Welcome Week or online at any time. 

Ask for support

The Australian government website MoneySmart has lots of financial information and advice, including a section specifically for students

If you need extra financial assistance, the University’s Financial Support Service is here to help. 

2 March 2020