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Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

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Living on a uni student budget

How to thrive on a uni student budget


Surviving at uni while working minimal hours to maximise time for study might be causing you some concern. Don’t worry, it can be done. With a little planning and some self-restraint, you will be thriving. Here are some tips for making the most of your uni budget.

Before you buy anything, ask yourself if you really need it

Want it, or need it? Spend your budget on the things you need first and save the 'wants' for special occasions. Try to cut out the everyday money-suckers like coffees and takeaways that can quietly eat into your finances.

Never buy a new textbook unless absolutely necessary

Before you purchase a new textbook, see if it’s available as an ebook through the library or if you can get it secondhand or from competitive online websites. 

Plan your meals and prepare them yourself 

This is another big money saver, especially if you can get a few of your friends to eat together. It’s time consuming, but you will never regret it. By planning your meals, you minimise the risk of buying too much and wasting food at the end of the week. It also prevents you from buying expensive, unhealthy takeaways every day. So, make time to Google and Pinterest yummy recipes and learn how to shop effectively.  Note to self: always write a shopping list and never go to the supermarket when you’re hungry.

Shop smart

Save on food by getting to a market, discount supermarket (eg Aldi) or buying in bulk – if you start your shopping half an hour before closing time, you’ll definitely find discounted items. Look through catalogues, make a list of what you need and see if you can share grocery bills with your housemates to cut costs. And remember to freeze – your freezer should be full of meat, vegies and bread so it stays fresher for longer. 

Free food at uni

Pay attention to events on campus

There is always something happening, including movies, local bands, fitness classes, social events, sausage sizzles or cooking classes. Each campus’ Student Association often has free breakfasts and lunches and many of ACU’s clubs and societies hold various events that include free food and drinks. These are good ways to have fun without spending a ton of money. 

Take advantage of deals

There are so many deals out there. It just takes a little effort to find them. Check out local discount sites, such as Sell Buy Swap, online daily deals and the back of receipts for discounted movie vouchers or cheap food. ACUXtra is a program for enrolled students offering discounted groceries, petrol, movies and more. If you do go out to eat or hang out with your friends, make sure you (respectfully) ask for a student discount and get more bang for your buck. As a student you have access to awesome deals at various cafes, restaurants and retail/entertainment venues. 

Find cheap housing

When thinking about accommodation, look for share houses (that include utilities) or investigate student accommodation, which some campuses offer with reasonable rates. Otherwise, aim to live as close to uni and work as possible so you don’t have to rely on a car, and you can walk or take public transport instead.

Consider transport options

Compare different travel options 

When you are budgeting for transport to university, take the time to compare public transport costs. If you need to drive to uni, try carpooling with other students. And look for student discounts (contact AskACU) or consume off-peak fares to save some dollars. 

Make the most of your entitlements

Make sure you're taking advantage of all of the financial help that’s available to you, including any grants, bursaries or scholarships. Scholarships aren’t just for academically gifted students or those struggling financially – passion and dedication for your studies will take you most of the way. Do a little digging and you might find a scholarship to suit your needs.

The reality is that money is likely going to be limited while you’re studying – so be realistic about what you can afford. And remember, once you graduate with a degree you will have a better chance of being employed and earning a higher wage.

Dreaming of uni life? Find out more about studying at ACU.

Related stories

Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G