How To Squeeze The Most Savings Out Of Being A Student

As a student, there’s no need to resign yourself to a world of poorly executed Mi Goreng, boxed wine, and a few highly anticipated (but ultimately disappointing) dorm room parties. If you’re savvy enough with your spending, even the most cash-strapped of students can enjoy the finer things in life, while still putting away enough for your future, or a Playstation 4.

We’ve drawn on our knowledge as hardened, slightly disillusioned graduates to bring you some of the tips we wish we’d exploited more as struggling students.

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1. Consider each new purchase

Every graduate ever will tell you you’re making a mistake by purchasing textbooks new. You might think it’s a good idea at the time – second-hand books can be gross – but spending hundreds of dollars on a marketing tome that will only be relevant for one year (and, let’s face it, is probably already outdated) is nonsense. Hunt down those second-hand textbook sales, scan or photocopy relevant sections from your university library, or go with a rental service such as Zookal, Jekkle or The Campus Bookstore. Prefer e-books? Google Play began offering online textbook rentals to Australian students last year.

2. Learn to make mi goreng like a pro

The eternal regret of many graduates (besides not taking their student loans seriously) is learning far too late the secret to upgrading instant noodles. But the fact is, it’s not only easy but dirt cheap to upgrade this student staple into a soup worthy of actual meal status. The best way to cook Mi Goreng remains extremely controversial, but my personal preference is to let the noodles cook in a separate bowl of boiling water. Meanwhile, cook up a soup with those magical sachets and half a tomato. Once simmering away, chuck into the soup your vegetables of choice, a dash of sesame oil, mirin or miso paste and the strained noodles. Break an egg into the mix – or boil separately and slice over the top – and you have a balanced meal right there my friends! Feeling more adventurous? Enter the weird and wonderfully economical world of ramen and rice cooker hacks.

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3. Remember the Library? Oh yeah, it’s awesome

Bogged down with subscriptions to Netflix, Stan, Spotify, and that other free trial you forgot to cancel? Meet your local community library – it’s been around your whole life, and it’s there to help. Most libraries let you borrow basically everything for free: DVDs, CDs, books, e-books, online tools for you to research your family history – you name it. Even the internet is free. So every time you feel yourself reaching for your wallet to pay $30 for another limited-edition Penguin classic, remind yourself that you can get the same book for absolutely nothing down the road. Save that money for the finer things in life, such as overseas adventures or books you might actually want to reread in future.

4. Upgrade your student card for even more discounts

Everyone knows the importance of the student card for nabbing discounts to films, outings, cheap transport and concerts, but only exchange students seem to know the value of upgrading to an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). While most states won’t accept interstate student ID cards, both Queensland and New South Wales accept ISIC cards for regional travel. Providing discounts on everything from meals and wineries to theme parks and takeout, you can save a sizable chunk of money with an ISIC card. These babies are also great if you’re going on any travel adventures or exchanges, as there are tons of buy-one-get-one-free discounts to pick from, as well as discounts on food and major attractions. At $30, the cards are also pretty good value. And, if you open a Student Choice account with Westpac where there are no monthly account keeping fees, you’ll get it for free. Possibly the best thing? You get to provide your own photo, so no awkward “the photographer took me by surprise” apology for your monstrosity of an ID pic.

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5. Pamper yourself for less

As a student, there’s absolutely no need to content yourself with split ends and awkward rats’ tails. When there is a will towards treating yourself, there is always a way. Pampering doesn’t need to be expensive – you can still do it on the cheap, without dipping into your Friday night money.

Facebook groups such as Hair and Beauty Models (there’s one for each state) provide a space for beauty students to call on volunteers and models to help them perfect their skills for either heavily discounted rates or nothing at all, offering everything from haircuts and facials to massage, manicures and eyelash extensions. Everybody wins, provided you have a bit of patience and are prepared for the unexpected – everyone needs to start somewhere, and for the beauty industry it’s no different.

Alternatively, hit up hairdressing academies such as Biba and Toni&Guy for affordable, supervised cuts and colours, or bribe a friend who’s handy with the snips with a six-pack if you’re not fussy.

6. Find out where the free food is

Every student knows the value of scrawling the university events calendar: not only can you keep on top of all the free entertainment that’s practically thrown in your face as a student, but you can also keep tabs on the free food. Because, let’s face it: one less meal to buy means more money in the student kitty (*cough* beer fund). Befriend art students or sign up to art gallery mailing lists for exposure not only to some great new talent and cultural enlightenment, but the obligatory cheese board and free (or heavily discounted) bar. Department notice boards are also great places to sniff out the next meet and greet or literary launch, which almost always occurs over free food and alcohol. Please world, never let this change.

Heading into a new year of study? Upgrade your bank account to a Westpac Choice account, designed with students in mind. You can access your money through Debit MasterCard with PayPass and while usual currency conversion fees still apply, you pay no fees on ATM withdrawals and enjoy a one-year membership with a new ISIC student card to squeeze out all the amazing discounts on offer to students like you. Find out more here. Always read the terms and condition and ensure the bank account is suitable for you.

Open a Westpac Choice account for students or youth online by 29 March. Deposit $250 within 45 days of opening the account to receive $50 from Westpac.