Tips for managing as a student with the increase in cost of living

It is not easy managing as a student at the best of times but recently it has gotten even tougher.

Expensive rental accommodation, the cost of basic items like food and essentials continuing to increase, and the pressure to find or increase casual work hours, whilst at the same time pursuing your studies.

It’s a lot to juggle, so we’ve put together a few tips and links to help you:

Managing your monies

  • While might sound boring, it will help you take control of your finances and reduce anxiety about finances. There are lots of great resources on the Money Smart website. In particular, check out and use the Budget Planner
  • Check out Cost of Living Calculator for students
  • Separate your accounts, most banks have apps that can facilitate this and allocate any income you receive from work, family or Centrelink into separate areas
  • Spend – Use the budget planner and work out a quick average of what you spend for essential bills and needs like rent, food, electricity, gas, car rego etc
  • Save – for unexpected costs as low as $10 a week or a savings goal like travel.
  • Splurge – any monies left over to spend on yourself
  • For domestic students check if you are entitled to any Centrelink payments and cut-off points: Service and Payments Services Finder and A Guide to Australian Payments
  • If you are in receipt of a Centrelink payment you may also be entitled to apply for a small Student start-up loan linked to Help loan payments
  • If applying for casual or part-time work or are concerned about your entitlements know your rights as a worker Welcome to the Fair Work Ombudsman website
  • Some useful websites are below to help in applying for work but also ask your friends and networks for suggestions/recommendations:
  1. La Trobe Career Ready Essentials
  2. Student Casual Jobs in All Australia – SEEK
  3. Casual Work For Uni Students Jobs (with Salaries) 2022 | Australia
  • Watch out for any job scams and don’t hand over any monies to get a job. Seek advice from Scamwatch if concerned and contact your bank immediately to stop any transactions you are concerned about.  

Reducing Accommodation Costs

While not easy with rents so high and scarce, a few ways to consider reducing overall accommodation costs include:

  • Consider sharing accommodation with a friend or check out share accommodation websites, like Flatmates.
  • Homestay while may look expensive may cover some costs like utilities
  • Home share Programs
  • Utilities – Electricity and Gas , Best deals, whose name is on the bills, are you eligible for any discounts/concessions such as $250 bonus for householders on electricity bill but need to apply by 23 March and then be eligible for another after 24 March.
  • Be aware of your rights as a tenant with Tenants Victoria
  • Watch out for accommodation scams and check legitimate before handing over any monies.  Seek advice from Scamwatch if concerned and contact your bank immediately to stop any transactions you are concerned about

General tips for keeping your costs down

  • Focus on buying what you need i.e can’t do without versus wants which you could do without for now or put savings aside to purchase
  • Track your expenditure for a week/month to see pattern in expenditure or expenses you might be able to cut or reduce
  • Cook more of own meals with seasonal vegetables and bring leftovers to uni for lunch
  • Plan and do lists for grocery shopping and stick to it. Don’t shop when hungry if possible!!
  • Buy fruit and veg at local markets
  • Look for specials that can freeze and freeze some leftovers for lunch or when you don’t feel like cooking
  • Stock up on pantry items on Bundoora campus at Feeding La Trobe and on other campuses
  • Download apps that have weekly specials (Coles, Woolies, Half Price, Aldi etc but be aware of incentives to buy other items or items you don’t need
  • Download app – Use Petrol Spy Australia or lock in fuel prices when low e.g Seven 11 fuel price lock app
  • Visit second-hand shops for clothing
  • Buy and sell goods online on in community Facebook groups but watch out for scams i.e Buyer beware!
  • Ensure you are getting max concessions for utility bills, car rego, train, tram and bus travel
  • Shop around for best deals on mobile phone plans
  • Access local emergency relief services for food vouchers, free food, and other items through Ask Izzy
  • Follow money saving socials –such as she’s on the money,  articles such as sixteen ways to slash your grocery bills or follow, buy/borrow The Barefoot Investor
  • Ask friends or family members for suggestions!!

Financial Counsellors at La Trobe

If you want more information or support in managing with the increased cost of living, don’t forget to contact your Financial Counsellor who will help you in working out your options. Check out the Financial Counselling website to book an appointment or find more inofrmiaton.