Living on a budget

financeYou're likely to have a limited income while studying, so it's worth planning your finances.

Calculating your budget is the best way of assessing your needs and controlling your costs. Preparing a budget gives you 'the big picture' - where your money's coming from, when it's coming in and where it's going.

MoneySmart budget calculatorMoney Smart Budget Planner

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Money Smart program has a great Budget Planner which can be used online or downloaded and edited offline. There's also a great smart phone app for iPhone and Android that includes a savings and loans calculator.

Track your spending

If you want to easily monitor where you're spending your money, get the TrackMySpend app.


Here's some useful information, tips and advice when living on a budget.

Be aware of your costs

When creating a budget, consider all your likely expenses:

  • tuition fees
  • accommodation
  • living expenses such as furniture, food, clothes, medical, insurance and entertainment
  • textbooks and study materials
  • car running costs, parking permit or public transport tickets.

Understand tuition fees and financial assistance

Tuition Fees (including HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP) apply to all La Trobe students. Your fees and payment methods will depend on whether you’ve been offered a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) or a full-fee based place.

You can monitor how much you've borrowed under the HELP scheme through myUniAssist.

It's important that you understand how tuition fees affect you. Drop into Ask La Trobe.

If you're a new student, you may be able to get some financial assistance from:

Reduce your costs



  • Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry.
  • Try 'Home Brand' products – cheaper and often the same contents as quality brands.
  • Learn how to cook and make meals at home instead of buying takeaway.
  • Buy only in-season fruits and vegetables - check out this Seasonal Produce Guide.
  • If you can afford it and have the freezer space, 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 and cooling costs.
  • Turn off lights and electrical items when you’re not using them.


Phone and internet

  • Shop around for the best telephone and internet deals.
  • Avoid large mobile phone bills - use pre-paid.


  • Car pool, ride a bicycle, take public transport or walk to uni to avoid the costs of running a car.


  • Quit smoking - you'll save a lot of money and improve your health.

Enquire about Youth Allowance, Health Care and Concession Cards

Youth Allowance

If you're 18-24 years old, a local student and studying full time, you may be eligible for Youth Allowance.

Health Care Card

If you're receiving Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY or Austudy, you may also be eligible for a Health Care Card. The card helps people on low incomes and entitles you to cheaper medical services, prescriptions, public transport, electricity, telephone (depending on the provider) and car registration.

Victorian Public Transport Concession Card

If you’re a full-time, local, undergraduate student, you're entitled to a Victorian Transport Concession Card that provides you with cheaper public transport. Pick up an application form from Ask La Trobe.

Some international students are eligible for concession cards (go to Concession Card section).

Obtain part-time employment

Consider finding some part-time or casual employment to supplement your income. Register with CareerHub and you can search for all types of job vacancies, from part-time and casual work to graduate opportunities. You can also access the range of resources offered by the Career Development Centre, including careers counselling and job preparation workshops.

Consider insurance

Consider taking out insurance in case things go wrong. You may consider:

Protect the money you have

Reduce the risk of having money stolen. Safeguard your cash, cards and avoid being scammed.