How to save money

An image of a classroom blackboard and a stack of books on a desk in front. A hand is dropping coins into a “piggy box” that is on top of the books.

Student life can be unexpectedly expensive, especially when you're trying to learn how everything works in a new country. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for students in Western Australia (WA) to save money: here are eight quick tips! 

1  Budget carefully and track your spending

Figuring out how much you can spend each week can be overwhelming, but it is the first step in ensuring you stay on track with your financial goals. Take the time to draft a budget plan that works for you. For example; if you have a job, think about things like when you receive payments or what percentage of your paycheck you would like to save. After that, you can plan out how to use your spending money. 

MoneySmart offers some great resources, such as a budget template and step by step guides. In the beginning you might also need to track what you're spending your money on, so that you can see where you may be able to cut back on expenses.

2  Apply for a concession transport card

As a student at TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA), you are eligible for some discounted services including public transport. You can apply for the Tertiary SmartRider card if you are enrolled in full time study. This reduces the cost of each trip by 40%. Plus, if you set up your SmartRider to autoload, instead of manually topping up each time, you also receive a 20% discount off most fares. Ensure that you carry your student ID each time you travel, as transport officers might check your ticket. Student ID cards are available at a cost of $10.

3  Use your student discount

Your student ID card entitles you to discounts in many locations, including selected retail stores and restaurants. If you take advantage of this frequently, you could save hundreds of dollars. Companies that you likely already buy from probably have discounts for students, such as Apple, Cotton On and Platypus. Platforms such as UNiDays and Student Edge help centralise all these discount opportunities. You can quickly do a search for what you want to buy or look for current trends, and see if there are any discounts on offer. Local bars and restaurants also have student happy hours or special student nights, where you can get cheaper drinks and meals.

4  Make use of campus facilities

Your TAFE campus has students (and their budgets!) in mind, so you'll be able to access discounted services easily. For example; North Metropolitan TAFE is home to Chalk n Cheese café and Baytree Deli, both operated by hospitality students and offering affordable food and drinks. Many TAFE WA campuses also have hair salons and beauty clinics run by students, with discounted services. South Metropolitan TAFE's Bentley campus even has a Veterinary Student Clinic, and Murdoch campus has a Pet Grooming Clinic you can utilise!

5 Buy or loan secondhand textbooks

Often, you can borrow secondhand textbooks from a friend or another student. If this isn't an option, textbooks can be bought inexpensively on websites such as StudentVIP and ZOOKAL. An even more cost effective option is to rent textbooks, which can also be done on these platforms. Alternatively, you can visit your campus library to see if the textbooks are available to borrow. There might be a high demand, so get in early.

6  Prepare meals and eat at home

Students frequently spend the most money eating out — with so much incredible food to try in WA, we understand why! Although eating out is convenient, planning meals ahead can help significantly reduce your food costs. If you prepare meals for the week ahead, you can buy food in bulk and freeze it. By bringing home cooked lunch onto campus every day, you can save up to $200 a month and more accurately budget your meal costs. Being prepared also avoids last minute takeaway orders because there's nothing left to eat at home!

7  Plan around the fuel pricing cycle

If you use a car, chances are petrol prices form a large part of your monthly expenses. If you check the platform FuelWatch in the morning, you can track the price of petrol in your area. Typically, fuel costs the most on Wednesday, and decreases gradually until Tuesday of the following week.

8 Look out for free activities

WA boasts a wide range of enticing and enjoyable activities, and not all of them require money! Planning to meet with friends at the beach or park is a simple way to reduce weekly costs, and you can also keep an eye out for free cultural events. If you drive a couple of hours outside of Perth's CBD, there are boundless natural adventures at your fingertips. In summer and autumn, consider visiting a refreshing waterfall – Sixty Foot Falls, Serpentine Falls and Noble Falls are all accessible options. In the winter months you can spend some time exploring the historic town of Guildford and the Swan Valley where you can enjoy heritage walk trails. When spring blooms, you can feast your eyes on Western Australia's flora. Notable wildflower hotspots include Ellis Brook Valley Reserve, Kings Park, and Bold Park.

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