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Money Matters: How to Fund things you Enjoy

Australian dollar bills

"All the things I could do, if I had a little money..." Apologies for the ABBA lyrics, but most of us poor uni students are thinking that a bit of extra money, money, money could make things sunny. Perhaps you're wondering how to fund that overseas trip, unremunerated work experience opportunity or even just avoid running out of cash before your next pay cheque comes through.

The first step is to work out where your money goes. For one or two weeks, record every cent you spend. You'll start to realise just how much you could save. Set a budget and a savings goal, and try some of these tips:

Saving Money

1. Shop around for items like textbooks, household goods and phone/Internet services. Practice your negotiation skills to get a better deal: there's no harm in asking.

2. If you need a little grooming, look into hair and beauty training schools as they're cheap and usually produce great results. If not, just wait a few years and sue for negligence.

3. Inspired by the bank fees class action, minimise your bank fees with student or low fee accounts. Maximise your savings with a high interest online savings account. Also, a savings account that requires a visit to the bank for withdrawals will make you think twice about spending!

4. It's not daggy to pack a lunch and snacks to take to university. If the food at your uni is anything like the food at mine, you'll be the envy of your peers! Student lounges often have free tea and coffee to sustain you during those long days in the library.

5. Learn to cook. There are many blogs out there where people share cheap, simple recipes. Buy food and wine on special or in bulk to divide with friends for the best savings.

6. If you like the good things in life, consider buying an "Entertainment Book" which can give you great discounts, such as two-for-one meal deals. Or you can sign up for the vast array of daily deal websites. If you can't afford to go out, make nights in special; have a tea party, candlelit dinner or movie night.

7. The op-shop nannas are your friends, get on their good side and they will do everything they can to help you find awesome outfits for small change. Look into "clothes swap" events in your community or just make friends with stylish and generous people. If vintage isn't your thing, factory outlets, E-bay and store loyalty clubs can also save you money.

Making Money

1. Look into Centrelink, university and community scholarships, grants and trusts as soon as possible. You might be surprised about how much you actually qualify for but there are often strict application deadlines and the process can take time.

2. Sign up to participate in research and experiments. Whether it's for the Economics, Psychology, Language or Medical Faculties at University or for other organisations, participants are required year-round and can earn from $10-$100+ per session. Market research companies are always looking for people to participate in focus groups too.

3. Keep checking your university's career website as students are often needed for a few days’ work for special events such as O-Week and conferences. Short-term work like this is a great way to make some extra money and usually easy to fit in around existing jobs. These career websites are also used by employers who are specifically seeking students and are more willing to be flexible.

4. If you've got an iPhone and a gym membership, there's an app called GymPact that can reward you financially for keeping your pact to go to the gym... but it can also penalise you for not going!

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