Managing your finances is one of the most important and challenging aspects of a successful and enjoyable academic experience. Dealing with a new currency and cost of living are the beginning of the challenge. When you are admitted to an Australian institution, take a close look at the budget you prepared for yourself based on estimated expenses.
Use this list to help you think about all the possible expenses you may have:
- Meals (Board)
- Health Insurance
- Personal Expenses
- Family Expenses
Creating a Budget
- Step 1: Available Funds
- The first step in creating a budget is to figure out the amount of money you will have for the duration of your trip. Knowing your total budget will make it far easier for you to itemize expenses later on.
- Step 2: Convert Currency
- You need to convert your currency; figure out what your total budget amounts to in the currency of the country in which you will be studying (you may want to overestimate, as these rates change second to second).
- Step 3: Total Necessities
- The next step is to figure out the cost of necessities such as tuition, housing accommodation, food, and transportation, as well as things like books and lab fees for your courses. You’ll also want to set aside 10-15% of your budget for emergencies.
- Step 4: Total "Fun Money"
- After doing this, you can figure out your "wants." These are fun things like excursions, nights out, and souvenirs. Set aside some "fun money" for your trip; and you may want to create a monthly budget of this money, as well, to make sure you don’t spend it all at the beginning of your trip.
The estimates provided by your school (if you do not have an estimate of living costs from your school - ask them for one!) are usually accurate, and international students are expected to have funds to cover the full amount shown. It is normally not possible to arrange for more financial aid once you arrive at an institution. If you are a graduate student and are awarded an assistantship, be sure you understand what it will include and what you will be expected to pay form your own pocket. If you will receive a scholarship or fellowship, determine ahead of time what portion of it is taxable and include the necessary taxes in your budget.
Managing your Budget
After creating your budget, the next step is to stick to it. There are a few steps you can take to make this easier for you. First, create daily and weekly budgets; these are easier to keep track of than large, big-picture budgets. Try to prepare your own meals as often as possible; it is far cheaper than eating out. Try planning your outings around free, discounted, or otherwise inexpensive activities. Finally, keep track of all your belongings, particularly cash, credit and debit cards, and your passport. Losing any of these things while abroad is particularly hassling.
The easiest way to stick to a budget is to keep an eye out for cheap alternatives. When you eat out, for example, try to find inexpensive restaurants or restaurants that offer special deals for students.
Working in Australia
Students studying under a student visa in Australia are allowed to work part-time (up to 20 hours a week) during their studies. They are also able to work unlimited hours during holidays. Because people in Australia under student visas are required to study full-time, they are not allowed to work more than this—unless by special permission. This is a good way to supplement your finances and increase your budget during your stay in Australia. However, if you work more than part-time, your student visa may be revoked.