How to make a uni budget in 10 minutes

It might be your first year at Uni or maybe you spent last year running out of money. Either way, getting on top of your finances before Uni starts will make the year a lot less stressful.

1. Make two lists

Firstly, make a list for your fixed expenses:

  • Rent
  • Bills
  • Petrol and car registration
  • Groceries

And a list for your variable expenses:

  • Eating out
  • Clothes
  • Personal buys
  • Hobbies

Don’t forget study costs like textbooks, uniforms and placements. Budget for those at the beginning and your future self will thank you.

Factor in trips back home too – the extra petrol, train or plane fare is much more easily managed as a small amount saved regularly than a big pocket-draining chunk at the end of the semester.

2. Check what’s incoming

Now, look at how much per fortnight you will have coming in (this is the time to check if you’re eligible for Centrelink payments). Note all the sources of incoming money, not just your wages or salary.

Also check out and apply for CSU scholarships, there are plenty on offer but they won’t be open for long, so start now!

Then, weigh your expenses and income.

3. Find the balance

If your expenses are higher than your income, you have two options.

  1. Start looking for casual work in your city. You want to make sure that your hours are within reason so it doesn’t affect your study. If you do get Centrelink payments, keep an eye on whether the amount your earning is within the acceptable range to avoid unexpected bills.
  2. Reduce your variable expenses. Can you stop eating take away, can you switch to free forms of exercise such as karma yoga classes (or YouTube), or running or walking with a friend? Try TAFE campuses for cut price haircuts, your Uni library for books and experiment with cutting the amount by 50 percent. These measures may feel extreme, but don’t forget that they are short term, once you graduate and get that regular salary you can readjust your lifestyle.

If you can, have an ‘untouchable account’ separate from your everyday working account. This means you can hole away your summer job earnings to have a back up if your car needs urgent repairs or if you have to make a trip home unexpectedly. This is a much better strategy than an emergency credit card.

Learning to survive on a student budget is about making a small amount of money stretch as far as you can. It is a skill you will take with you well after your years at CSU!