Unfortunately, financial struggle is often part and parcel of life as a university student. If you are not already experiencing financial hardship you are probably struggling hard to avoid it. This information aims to provide you with some helpful hints to better manage your finances while at university and deal with financial crisis should it strike you.
Work out your budget
Careful and effective budgeting is essential when you are trying to manage on a low income. Download the Budget Planner [PDF], a blank pre-made planner with instructions on the back to assist you to put together a budget that will work for you.
- Use a shopping list to avoid impulse buying.
- Try 'Home Brand' products – cheaper and often just quality brands relabelled.
- Make your lunches to take to Uni each day.
- Cook meals at home instead of buying takeaway.
- Buy only in-season fruits and vegetables.
- If you can afford it, buy meat in bulk and freeze in meal-size parcels.
- Seal draughts around doors and windows and close doors, curtains and windows to reduce heating costs.
- Shop around for the best telephone deals and avoid large mobile phone bills – pre-paid is best.
- Car pool, ride a bicycle, take public transport or walk to uni to avoid the costs of running a car.
- For purchasing clothes, shoes, furniture and other household items, the retail outlets of the following organisations can be a good and much cheaper option.
Check in your phone book or online for the outlets closest to you:
- City Mission
- Salvation Army Family Stores www.salvationarmy.org.au
- St Vincent de Paul Society www.vinnies.org.au
Health Care card
Contact Centrelink to find out if you are eligible for a Health Care card. The card assists those who are on low incomes and entitles you to reductions on medical expenses and prescriptions and other day-to-day living expenses such as transport, electricity, telephone (depending on the provider) and car registration.
Consider finding some part-time or casual employment to supplement your income. Register with CareerHub to search for all types of job vacancies from part-time and casual work to graduate opportunities. Once registered with CareerHub students can access the suite of resources offered by Career Development and Employment including careers counselling and job preparation workshops.
If you find yourself answering 'yes' to any of the questions below, you may already have a debt problem or be heading towards a financial crisis.
- Are you spending more money than you earn?
- Is illness, loss of a job, or personal problems causing you financial hardship?
- Are your creditors constantly contacting you to pay overdue bills?
- Are you always paying off the minimum balance on your credit cards?
- Are you borrowing from family and friends just to manage?
- Do you regularly pay interest and service charges on your debts because of late payments?
- Are you behind in your house payments or rent?
- Do you need to use your credit card to pay for food?
- Are you paying off one credit card with another?
If you do have a debt problem or financial crisis strikes, the following information might help you to make it through to the other side.
The following organisations all offer one or more of the following services:
- emergency relief in the form of food parcels, heating, clothing and/or furniture
- emergency financial assistance
- financial counselling
- budgeting advice
Offices in Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and Devonport
Freecall 1800 243 232 or see web link at www.anglicare-tas.org.au
Salvation Army – 'Doorways' Centres
Hobart – 250 Liverpool Street, phone 6270 0306
Launceston – 109A Elizabeth Street, phone 6331 6760
Burnie – 99 Wilson Street, 6431 8722
Devonport – 166 William Street, 6424 9211
or see web link at www.salvationarmy.org.au
St Vincent de Paul Society
Hobart – 212 Argyle Street, phone 6234 4244
Launceston – 217B Invermay Road, phone 6326 5551
Burnie – 51 Mount Street, phone 6431 1125
Devonport – 58 Stewart Street, phone 6424 2295
Or see web link at www.vinnies.org.au
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have developed an online money quiz for university students and their parents. This quiz deals with issues such as the cost of living, budgeting, credit, campus services, paying the rent, student loans, superannuation for casual workers, mobile phone bills, identity theft, online gambling, insurance and HELP payments.
Test your financial know-how right now! Visit the MoneySmart website run by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to help people make smart choices about their personal finances. Go to: www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/quizzes.
Talk to your creditors
If you are experiencing problems, talk to your creditors straight away. You may feel awkward and embarrassed but it is important to let your creditors know what is happening. Most creditors will be pleased you have called to inform them about your situation. Avoiding creditors will only put them off side and may make it harder to negotiate with them in the future.
Before you talk to your creditors, sit down and work out what you are going to say. Take the time to think about what money you have coming in and what money you are spending. Prepare a money plan so you can make an offer to your creditors that is realistic and within your means. If necessary seek some guidance from one of the organisations listed above.
University of Tasmania Safety Net Grant Scheme
The purpose of the Safety Net Grant Scheme is to provide financial assistance to eligible students who are experiencing financial hardship which is adversely affecting their education. The main criteria for assistance under the scheme is that a student demonstrates a genuine need and that their capacity for continued study may be in jeopardy due to financial hardship.
For further information go to Safety Net Grants
or contact your local student organisation as follows:
Tasmania University Union
Hobart – phone 6226 2855 or 6226 5573
Launceston and Inveresk – phone 6324 3776
Cradle Coast – phone 6430 4936
Sydney – phone (03) 6324 3776
Or email the scheme's Secretary
Counsellors are available by appointment at the Student Centre to discuss any of the above issues, to assist you with working out a budget, or to facilitate a referral to an appropriate community organisation. Please telephone or drop in to the Student Centre on your campus to make an appointment.
Level 1, Student Centre, Administration Building phone 6226 2697
Ground Floor, Kerslake Student Centre phone 6324 3787
Cradle Coast campus, Mooreville Road, Burnie, phone 6430 4949
Your local Student Organisation (as listed above) can also provide support and assistance.