Moving out of home for the first time to study can be daunting but it shouldn’t come down to Vegemite toast and cashing in bottles after a party for extra money, says People’s Choice Credit Union spokesperson Stuart Symons.
That's why we have put together these 8 tips to help plan and budget for when you move out of home.
“Knowing how to survive financially during the lean study years is important regardless of whether your income comes from part-time work, Youth Allowance or some other type of study or family allowance,” Mr Symons said.
“Taking control of financial matters from the start will help you survive now and reduce financial stress. It will also teach you important life lessons that will help you thrive when all that study pays off.”
1. Develop a budget
“For many young people, this is the first time they will need to prioritise living expenses like rent, bills and groceries over discretionary spending like entertainment, so it’s important to estimate these amounts early,” Mr Symons said.
“Most institutions like People’s Choice and ASIC have budget planners to make sure you’re not left in the dark because the electricity bill hasn’t been paid, and there are spending calculators that can help you plan and save towards things like a decent mattress, the uni ski trip or an overseas study trip.”
2. Review your budget regularly
“Estimating expenses is a good place to start but it isn’t until the first bills arrive and reality has set in that you get a better understanding of what life on your own will really cost,” Mr Symons said.
“Living to a tight budget can be challenging but actively recording your expenses – whether they are groceries, transport, entertainment or utilities – will help identify areas where you need to cut back, help predict future costs and show you where you can save for a night out.
“Lots of things can affect your budget. Electricity bills rise and fall depending on the season, unexpected sickness can leave your part-time pay short and even fluctuations in fuel prices or textbooks can affect how much money you have left at the end of the week. Reviewing and re-evaluating your finances and priorities regularly will help you plan for seasonal fluctuations and unexpected costs to help reduce any nasty surprises.” You can review your finances and get ahead with our Budget Planner Calculator here.
3. Prioritise your spending (or the joy of a fondue pot)
“Moving out of home can cost you money even before you pick up the keys to your place,” Mr Symons said.
“Setting up your own place will likely require purchases that add up quickly so it is important to prioritise. Accepting gifts of pre-loved furniture and household goods from relatives and friends or buying cheaply from second hand stores and websites can free your money for more important things.
“It is amazing how many people have furniture, kitchenware and other items that they are happy to pass on and, at the end of the day, pizza tastes the same reheated on your aunt’s old dinner set as it does on a new one. The money you save recycling other people’s treasure can help you buy that bike to get you around town, it could be used towards car repairs or even help you buy a second-hand barbecue so you can have friends over.”
4. Find ways to save without it affecting your social calendar
“Many people look forward to their newfound freedom and the social life that is part of the uni experience but finding ways to save money for some fun while juggling living expenses can be challenging,” Mr Symons said.
“Try making meals at home, taking your lunch with you, reducing how many coffees you buy or using free outdoor gyms. Not only will this save on your budget it will save on your waistline – the two things that often take a hit when you first live away from home.
“Also consider the benefits of turning a night out into a night in. Take turns with friends to host dinners, or if you find people are always at your place, get them to bring a course to share or their own meat and a shared salad for a barbecue. Low cost alternatives build good habits and other budget-conscious friends may appreciate the opportunity to save money themselves.”
5. Sharing the burden
“Moving out with friends or finding a sharehouse where you can meet new people, pool resources and share critical expenses can be a smart move financially,” Mr Symons said.
“While you may have to negotiate cleaning schedules and learn the boundaries of living with people not related to you, the opportunity to share living expenses is a smart way to make your money go further. Electricity, heating, streamed TV services and internet are all expenses that cost less when shared amongst a household of users.”
6. Plan your Uni schedule early
“Enrolling into your uni courses three months before the first semester might not be the best way to spend your holidays, but you’ll be glad you did,” Mr Symons said.
“Planning your uni schedule and enrolling early helps minimize the number of free periods and lengthy gaps between lectures and reduces the time you need to fill in elsewhere. This will mean fewer temptations to buy food and more time to fit additional work in for those extra dollars.”
7. Manage your money effectively
“There are many benefits to setting up multi-purpose bank accounts and automatic transfers,” Mr Symons said.
“Separating your finances into an everyday spending account, a bills account and a savings account will help compartmentalise your finances and lead to better money management. Once you know how much utilities and irregular bills will cost, set up automatic transfers to prepay your utility bills or to move the money into a high interest savings account ready for when the bills come in.” People's Choice offers a range of Savings and Investment Accounts here.
8. Avoid quick loans
“It may be a convenient way to get something that you want or need now but payday loans and delayed payment services like Afterpay and Zip Pay can cause financial distress if you miss payments,” Mr Symons said.
“Delayed gratification may not bring immediate joy but incurring debt you can’t afford feels much worse and can adversely affect your credit rating when you need it the most. In a few years when you are looking to take out a loan for a car, a holiday or a house your credit rating and debt levels will be very important.
“Most importantly, if you feel under financial pressure, reach out to a family member or another trusted advisor rather than take on debt you can’t afford. No one expects you to handle all the tough decisions on your own.”
If you're moving out of home and would like help with your finances, you can use our Budget Planner Calculator here.