Other financial assistance
Many university students rely on payments from Centrelink to support them financially while studying, but did you know:
- Centrelink is the government agency run by the Department of Human Services which makes financial assistant available to support people with low income.
- As a student, you may be eligible for a range of payments and services intended to support people who are undertaking approved studies or training, or planning to undertake approved studies or training. For more information, visit the Students and Trainees page on the Department of Human Services website.
- As well as visiting the Centrelink website, you can call their Youth and Students line on 132 490, or visit a local branch.
- To receive Centrelink payments you need to be enrolled full-time. For more information see Centrelink (income support) and the three session teaching calendar.
Being a student comes with a range of expenses that can stretch your finances, so it is important to make smart decisions with your money. By developing a budget, you can begin to make more informed decisions about your finances.
A budget can help you work out where your money comes from, and where it is being spent. This allows you to do a number of things:
- Predict how much money you will earn and spend in the future, and how decisions will affect your finances in the future.
- Identify unnecessary expenses, or areas where you could cut your expenditure.
- Establish goals and set targets in your finances.
MoneySmart offers an easy to use online budget planner, or you may like to build your own budget plan to suit your situation and needs.
A budget is only as good as its data, and so it is essential that you collect information on your income and spending before developing your budget plan. It is recommended that you keep an expense diary for at least 4-6 weeks before beginning your budget, so you have a good idea of how you spend your money.
Tips on saving
Make sure you give first priority to all the items you 'need', not the items you 'want'. Needs are things you require to live a basically healthy life e.g. food, accommodation, clothing, education etc. Wants are things you would like to have in order to improve your quality and enjoyment of life e.g. eating out, fashionable clothes, going out etc.
Make a list before shopping and only buy what is on your list. Shopping without a list often results in buying more items, especially the 'want' rather than the 'need' items. Sticking to the list will also ensure you will not be tempted by the bargains that you don't need.
Mark in your calendar all the dates your regular bills will arrive so that you are more prepared and can plan to set aside money for them. Consider arranging periodic payments or Centrepay deductions for some of these regular bills.
By planning ahead, you can do your shopping at bargain times, buy in bulk or shop with your friends or flatmates. Normally, the more you buy at one time, the cheaper the price will be. However, if you are buying in bulk, you also have to consider whether you can use those items before they expire or spoil. Otherwise, you may have wasted your money instead of saving it. For some items, you may be able to put them in the freezer to keep them for longer. Wrap them in individual units using plastic bags (sufficient quantity for one serve) and store them in an air-tight container.
Check the price of the item you want at different shops (an easy way is checking the junk mail or online catalogues). You can usually get a shop to match a competitor's price, so don't be afraid to negotiate.
For expensive times of the year such as birthdays, Christmas and holidays, either lay-by items or factor these amounts into your savings plan and put the money away or take advantage of discounts by buying off season and at sales.
For more information on savings visit ASIC's MoneySmart website.
For information regarding scholarships visit the Scholarships website.