Sunday, 29 September 2013

Frugal Student Life - tips for students, boarders and parents - board and lodgings/food!

Click here for Part One of this series!

Here it is! The long awaited second post of my Frugal Student Living series! This week I want to focus quickly on board and lodgings/food.

Before I start, a quick apology for missing last week, I was thrown unexpectedly into house sitting for a relative... Oh well! I'm back now!

Image courtesy of digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net


As a student, rarely are you able to work full time, and so money is tight. It's even tighter if you have had to move out of home to study! As I have explained previously, I moved out of the family home into a student boarding house in July, so that I could be closer to the university. I am studying full time and volunteering once a week, so my only income is what comes in from A Little Touch of Crazy. Luckily, my mother is helping me financially until I do start working! That being said, money is still very tight for me, so I has to consider my boarding options very carefully before moving out.

Location, location, location!
Other than what comes with your board, the location of your accommodation is the biggest factor determining how much you will have to pay! Nicer suburbs with close access to public utilities, like a shopping centre, are always more expensive. As a student, the closer your accommodation is to your educational institution, the more expensive your rent will be (generally). I board at a place which isn't particularly close to anywhere - it's actually in the middle of everything! It is a 10 minute bus trip to either the city centre, or to the major shopping centre in the other direction, and the same goes for the university. This centrality means that I'm not too far away from anything I need, but I am also paying $50+ less a week in rent than if I was to live closer to the university.

So make sure you broaden your search areas when looking for accommodation! You could be saving up to $200 a week in rent, and still be within walking distance!
Image courtesy of  Anusorn P Nachel/freedigitalphotos.net


To save on public transport, consider purchasing long-term tickets, for a saving of around 10% overall. Generally, however, public transport to and from your educational institute shouldn't cost more than $30 a week, much less than even running a car!

The Lease Agreement
What is included in your lease agreement is the other biggest factor in determining how much you will be paying. The extreme basic is just a room. Different places will often include many other factors in the lease agreement including furniture, utilities, internet and even lodgings (meals). To determine what would be the best option for you, it is best to sit down and figure out how much you would be paying for each of those factors independently, then comparing it to your lease agreement. Consider implied costs such as start-up fees and tax. My current agreement includes a fixed weekly payment for a fairly large room, basic furniture, all utilities, unlimited broadband internet and use of a commercial kitchen. All I need to pay for independently is my food. This ended up being an incredibly good, and cheap, agreement, one that I definitely plan to renew!

Also look out for agreements such as free board for caretaking of the facilities. At my boarding house, we have a guy who lives here for free, and in return he is the building's caretaker, doing the gardening, cleaning and odd jobs around the place. He then also works from home as his means of income.

Food

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

If you don't enter a 'board and lodgings' agreement, you will need to figure out how to feed yourself. My biggest tip here is HOME COOKING ALL THE WAY!!! Take-away and bought meals are incredibly expensive in the long run, so it is much better to stock up on the basics from your supermarket and cook for yourself. Buy non-perishables in bulk if possible, and keep an eye on deals and promotions. Coupon shopping from websites such as Amazon will allow your to buy in bulk and save up to 75% in some cases!
When shopping, stay right away from the confectionery and fast-food - you will be amazed at how much of your shopping budget these items can eat up!

If you really can't/don't want to cook for yourself, keep an eye out for places which offer student discounts or bulk ordering. At a church near where I live, there is a free student buffet every Tuesday lunch, meaning that I don't have to think about, budget or cook for Tuesday lunches... or even dinners if I take some food home with me! There is also another kitchen which will allow me to order 10 meals and deliver them to me each week for $6.50 per meal! These offers are actually best found on facebook and rarely advertise anywhere else, so search and ask around to see what is offered near you!

So! My tips for this week: 

  1. Expand your real estate location search
  2. Carefully compare lease packages
  3. Home cooking is amazing and cheap!
I hope this helps! Also, what are your best board and lodging tips? I would love to hear them!