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Poor at Law: Savings for Students

Richie Rich

Law school can sometimes feel like you’re dining a posh restaurant where nothing on the menu suits your student budget. Luckily, there are some ‘tricks of the trade’ to help you get to the end of the week with more in your pocket than just a button and some lint…

1. Pack your Lunch

One of the biggest expenses at uni is also one of the easiest to avoid. While it’s sometimes necessary to hit the university cafeteria or the vending machine to re-fuel in an emergency study lock-down situation, most of the time a bit of extra planning can mean that you no longer have to “fork out” a lot of hard-earned cash to eat. My revelatory moment occurred recently after a pain-staking foray into the evil arena that is mathematics: I realised that I had spent almost $30 buying breakfast, lunch, two coffees and a bottle of water. I’m not saying that that isn’t pretty good value, but think about what else you could spend that money on.

2. Rethink your Stationery

Admittedly this is my biggest pitfall – all the shiny, pretty stationery seems to attack me with utter disregard for my budget as soon as I’m within 100 metres of a stationery shop. In reality most of us have already coughed up a fair bit for a laptop and/or tablet and rarely use special notepaper or scented pens. A great alternative is to attend the Careers Fair, aka the Aladdin’s Cave of complimentary pens and post-its!

3. Second-hand Textbooks

Second-hand books are often advertised on university websites, at the bookshop, on noticeboards around campus or on websites like Usually you can pick up books in good condition for around half the original cost, depending on their age and quality. But remember to check the edition you need first! New editions are always being printed to keep up with changes in the law, and you may be required to get the most recent version. Offset textbook costs even further by taking the time to sell your old books when the semester is over.

4. Student Grants, Loans and Scholarships

Universities often offer financial assistance to students who meet the eligibility criteria. Depending on your university and your circumstances, you may be eligible for interest fee loans, student grants, emergency food/transport vouchers or scholarships. Also, the finance division at your uni can help you with Centrelink applications and other external services.

5. Alternative Transport Options

If you drive to uni everyday, consider whether the cost of petrol, parking permits and toll roads mean that public transport is more cost-effective. If this is not a viable option because of where you live and/or the quality and cost of public transport in your city, consider carpooling with a friend and split the cost of petrol and parking. Your university may also offer services to assist students arrange carpooling, sometimes with added benefits like priority parking. Or, increase your fitness while travelling and cycle or walk to uni – oh, what great time management skills you could have!

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