Tips to help manage your financial wellbeing

Managing your finances while you study in Australia can be challenging. Learn practical tips, how to access resources and discover support services available if you experience financial difficulties as an international student.

Written by Medibank

What is financial wellbeing?

BeyondBlue defines financial wellbeing as what gives you the financial freedom to make choices that allow you to enjoy life.

Financial difficulties may lead to stress and anxiety, which could impact your mental health and wellbeing.

Signs of poor financial wellbeing can include:

  • overspending
  • ignoring emails from banks or not reading bills
  • not sharing information about your finances with family and friends
  • not spending time with friends
  • alcohol and substance abuse. 

What can you do to help improve your financial wellbeing?

Make a budget

It may sound simple, but you can create a budget by calculating your income and tracking your expenses. It’s a great first step to better manage your money.

“I have a general set amount I know I will get paid, so I manage my monthly budget by allocating money to rent, utilities, and groceries first and then sending money into my leisure account,” says Nayonika Bhattacharya, an Arts and Law student at The University of New South Wales, who has their OSHC with Medibank.

“I also actively tell people if I don’t want to spend money but find no-spend alternatives so we can still enjoy time together.”

There are some easy ways you can budget while maintaining your wellbeing. For example, rather than investing in a gym membership, which can be expensive, seek alternative ways to get your body moving.

“Australia has a lot of free public gyms in parks, and these are a great way to get some sun, shine and steps in,” shares Nayonika.

When it comes to food, paying attention to weekly discounts and the seasons can be helpful in saving money.

“Source special deals from big supermarkets by keeping an eye out on their catalogues and stick to seasonal fruits and vegetables; canned alternatives are just as good to save costs and eat well,” Nayonika says.

Plus, cooking for yourself can provide you some relief from homesickness.

“Homemade food is important for international students,” says Rathmony (Moni) Sok, a Master of Business Administration (Finance) student at Flinders University and Medibank OSHC member. “It’s the thing that brings us closer to home.”

The Australian Government’s MoneySmart service provides useful information on budgeting, including a budget planner you can use.

Scholarships and grants

In Australia, there are many scholarships, grants and bursaries available which may help support you financially while you study. These are offered by different public and private organisations, including the Australian Government and education providers.

If you’re unsure which scholarships you may be eligible for, speak to your education provider directly, as they can help advise you.

Part-time work

Currently, on a Student visa (subclass 500), you can work up to 48 hours per fortnight during the semester and unlimited hours during semester breaks.

Working over the summer or winter academic break can be a great way to save money for busier times during your studies when you may not be able to work as frequently.

However, it’s important to make sure you continue to strive to have a healthy work/life balance, while maintaining your studies.

Banking and finance

An Australian bank account may help international students manage their finances and avoid international banking fees.

There are many things to consider when deciding whether to open an Australian bank account including what type of account to open, what kinds of fees you’ll be charged, what interest rates you can receive, and whether there are any special deals for students, such as no-fee transaction accounts.

It’s important to read and understand all terms and conditions carefully before opening an Australian bank account. Your education provider may have support services to assist you.

Use exclusive student discounts

As an international student, there are an enormous range of deals you can access across Australia, for example, transport concessions, discounts at selected stores, and cheaper tickets to events and reduced entry to venues such as galleries and museums.

As a Medibank OSHC member, you will also have exclusive access to Student Rewards Plus, a program designed to support you to save money, find work, and enhance your skills and knowledge while studying in Australia.

Plus, you can enjoy major discounts and ever-changing special offers across well-known brands such as Apple, Samsung, Hoyts, Woolworths and more.

Where can you get help?

Financial stress can impact anyone, but there are many support and counselling services available if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your friends or family. Your education provider will also have a range of student support services available.

“Take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” advises Moni.

With Medibank’s Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), you also have access to our 24/7 Student Health and Support Line which can connect you to a number of services, including counselling, emergency legal advice, health system guidance and interpreter support.

For Medibank OSHC call 1800 887 283.
For ahm OSHC call 1800 006 745.

Other support services in Australia include:

MoneySmart offers advice on managing debt and financial stress.

National Debt Helpline
The National Debt Helpline offers free financial counselling services.

24/7 Student Health and Support Line

Need support? Medibank Overseas Student Health Cover members can call anytime for health advice from a registered nurse, counselling services, emergency legal advice, travel document assistance, interpreter service and more.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health or financial advice and is not tailored to meet your individual needs or situation. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care.

This article does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Before acting on any of this information, you should consider the appropriateness to your circumstances.

While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).

Written by Medibank

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