Managing your finances
Starting a job and tax
The Australia Taxation Office (ATO) is the principal revenue collection agency of the Australian government. If you have not paid income tax before, or you are new to the Australian tax system, the ATO website provides useful information on your rights and obligations.
Living expenses vary greatly depending on your situation - including your spending habits, whether you have dependents and what your income is.
For a breakdown of the estimated cost of living in Melbourne visit Live in Melbourne
Electricity and Gas
Make sure you are getting the best deal for your electricity and gas bills. Check Victorian Energy Compare for a comparison.
Groceries, food and household items
You can save money on groceries by:
- shopping at larger supermarkets and discount stores rather than specialty shops and convenience stores
- buying meat and bakery items at the end of the day when they are often at reduced prices
- buying ‘no-name’ or generic brands. Many of these have the same brand name as the supermarket title and/or have plain packaging
- You can save on furniture and white goods by:
- buying second-hand items at opportunity shops
- buying online or at discount stores
- Note: cheaper white goods may not be as energy-efficient and may mean higher utility charges
Learn more tips about how you can savee money by visiting the Moneysmart website.
The power and freedom to buy things are great, but the responsibility to keep tabs on your spending and make sure you can still pay for rent, bills and food is also great. Keeping your receipts is one way of doing it, but creating a budget is much easier. Having your all expenses listed in one place can help you:
- reflect on how you are spending your money and take action if needed
- work out how much money you need to survive from week to week and plan those in (pro tip: plan it in for several weeks in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises)
- control your costs
- save money
Starting a budget
There are several ways in which you can start a budget and there are a lot of budgeting tools available online. The Money Smart Budget Planner is a fantastic budgeting calculator. This planner helps you to see where your money is going and to look at options for your own budget.
Making your budget work
Once you have started a budget, you need to figure out a way to make it work for you. While the correct approach differs from person to person, we can give some general advice.
Wants and needs
There are probably a lot of things that you want, but there are also things that you need. Needs are things you can't go without and are vital to your wellbeing. Everything that doesn't fit into this category, is a want. A good way to use a budget is to divide your costs into these two categories. It is important to be ruthless with yourself and not put wants in your needs-category. Example: you need food, but you want potato chips.
Separating wants and needs is a good way to reduce your costs too. If you're spending too much, you'll know in which area to make your cuts.
Overestimate your costs
While some bills will be static (e.g.: mobile phone plans), others will vary depending on your usage (water, electricity,...). It's good practice to overestimate these costs to make sure you have enough money put away to cover them.
You can budget all you want, but some expenses will take you by surprise. These could be sudden medical or dental bills, a repair or replacement of household or other items, or anything that would require a large sum of money. A good rule of thumb is to save 10% of your income to a backup fund to cover these costs.
Check and update your budget regularly
A poor use of a budget would be to create one, feel good about yourself for being responsible, and then never look at it again. Give your budget plenty of attention to make sure you have accounted for everything, add new categories when needed, and keep track of how well you are following your plan. If all goes well, you will be able to see your savings go up and have the right to feel good about being responsible!
Every time you purchase a good or service in Australia, you have certain rights and obligations under Australian Consumer Law. For more information visit Consumer Affairs Victoria.
For practical, confidential help and money advice, book an in-person or phone appointment with a Student Welfare Advisor