Surviving medical school can require some creative budgeting. Getting through uni can be costly so we’ve compiled our tips for surviving on a shoestring budget. FINANCIALS 1. There’s an app for that Create a budget. Sounds boring but it’s the best way to know what’s coming in and what’s going out. There are lots of apps out there to help you. Try ‘Pocketbook’, ‘TrackmySPEND’, ‘Expensify’, ‘Splitwise’ or ‘GoodBudget’. They do all sorts of nifty things like help you keep an eye on your expenses, forecast future bills and even scan receipts to download straight to your budgeting spreadsheet (yes, you need one). 2. Scholarships can be your saviour There are over 400 scholarships available to med students Australia-wide. Seriously. Why not apply? You haven’t got anything to lose. Medscholar is a great resource as a starting point. You can search hundreds of medical scholarships using filters to match your needs. 3. Money-crunching textbooks Medical textbooks can be exxy. Often the differences between current and previous editions of textbooks are minor so second-hand or rentals are a good way to go. Also check lecture outlines to see which books are key investments for your degree. Consider sharing the cost with a classmate. You can always go the online option too as are some are available in the usually cheaper e-book format. 4. Deal or no deal? Re-evaluate all your expenses and consider changing suppliers if you’re getting a bum deal. Think bank accounts (look for low-fees, free transactions), health insurance, car insurance and so on. If you have health insurance, make sure you use your free claims each year to get a new pair of prescription sunnies or a much needed remedial massage. 5. Start a piggy bank Got loose change? Get yourself a piggy box and squirrel them away. You’d be amazed how quickly it banks up. 6. Bills, bills, bills We’ve all got them but make sure you pay them on time to avoid fees and interest. Why give them more of your hard-earned cash by being lazy? A note on credit cards here: accrued interest can keep you forever swimming in debt. If you’re always in this boat, it might be time to re-evaluate your credit limit. 7. Ring, ring, ring It’s worthwhile to re-examine and revise your phone plan from time to time. Look for plans that give you unlimited calls or texts at a fixed rate. If you’re on a contract that ends, consider a new plan with a bring-your-own-phone deal. 8. Ditch the automation How many online accounts have your credit card details stored in them with automatic payments? EBay, Paypal and the list goes on. Get rid of all of these so you physically have to punch your card numbers in to pay. Each time you do, it will give you time to consider if you really need the purchase. Is it really worth it? 9. No need for speed Keep your inner speed demon in check. Speeding fines are a bummer and a massive hit to your wallet. 10. Pedal power Get a bike. It’s a great investment. Ride to uni and stay fit while saving on both transportation and time. If you’re too much of a slacker to ride, use public transport. Take advantage of student tickets which are considerably cheaper than regular ones. When you factor in parking and petrol, public transport beats your own car hands down. 11. Think before you print Try to avoid printing out all your uni notes and documents that you can read onscreen. But sometimes you will need to print an assignment to hand in. Consider buying a printer. They’re fairly cheap, and formerly expensive cartridges are now available in refillable forms. Spruik the benefits to your flatmates as they may be interested in chipping in too. 12. Plug into the power grid Charge your phone anywhere but home. Shower at your parent’s house. Cheeky but good for your purse strings. 13. Beware the coupon deal They sound like a great idea but coupon deals from sites like Groupon or Living Social are not all they’re cracked up to be. Besides inciting you to impulse buy, they’re often for premium name-brand items that you can get cheaper generically. Restaurant coupons also have lots of terms and conditions which you have to adhere to otherwise it’s not valid (why can’t I dine on a Saturday night when it’s the best night of the week?). HOUSING 14. Don’t leave the roost If you’re lucky enough to live close to uni and have parents who are happy for you to stay at home, do it. You’ll be pretty much set. You’ll save big bucks on rent (or at least it’ll be lower rent) plus you get home-cooked meals and a laundry service. If you have this option, just don’t take advantage of it. Help out as much as you can around the house. Your Mum and Dad deserve that at minimum. 15. Share and share alike Living off-campus is substantially cheaper than university student housing. Sharing can provide a better quality living space in a better location for significantly less than living alone. If you need to buy furniture you could also split the cost with your share-pals. 16. Find cheap or free stuff Setting up your shack for the first time can strip you of some serious dosh. Before you impulsively rush out and buy at full retail price, check online for used versions. Try eBay, Gumtree, student portals and notice boards for your local city and school. Alternatively, check out the local Vinnie’s or Salvo’s as you might pick up a good quality bargain or two. Another option is ask around. You’d be surprised how many friends and relatives would be happy to offload an item or five on to an in-need med student. 17. Declutter and re-sell Do you really need that second, third or fourth pair of skinny jeans/runners/hoodie? Take an inventory of all your stuff and be brutal. Keep you what really need and sell the rest. Your trash could bring in some serious coin. 18. Home matters There are little things you can do around the house to save energy and money. Take short showers, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and washing dishes, putting on an extra jumper so you can set the thermostat lower and only using lights when you need them. Reduce your phantom power. This occurs when power continues to flow when devices are in standby or powered off mode. Unplug anything you aren’t using. You’re be astounded how much this can save you — and the Mother Earth. FOOD 19. Get in my belly Food, while one of greatest pleasures in life, can also be one of the most expensive. Consider shopping at larger supermarkets or bulk providers for basic supplies. Choose generic store brands where possible. Markets are great for fresh produce and as it’s seasonal and locally-sourced, often offer real savings. The fresh air will do you wonders too and you can make a real day of it. 20. DIY caffeine fix Coffee is a staple of student life. We get that. But don’t let your caffeine cravings break your budget. If you buy just one coffee a day, you’ll spend around $1,400 each year. Save your pennies by making your own and taking it with you. 21. Go vego Vegetarian meals are both cost-effective and can be better for you if done right. Try tacos with kidney beans instead of minced meat. Chock full of protein and iron and delish to boot. If you can’t quite do the total vegetarian thing, aim for less meat each week. 22. Ditch the takeout Takeaway food can be a budget killer. The cook-at-home option is much more cost effective and can be a lot of fun. If you can plan ahead with your housemates, it’s even more economical as it’s cheaper to cook for two or more people. Freeze unused portions for quick dinners or take it for lunch the next day. If you get bored of the home routine, pack a picnic or head down to the local park for a BBQ. 23. Curb your food waste Australians throw out an embarrassing amount of food each year. Take a stand. Only buy what you need. Cook fresh foods before they go off. And if you do have foods starting to wilt, throw it in the freezer to use later. For example, cut up your ripe tomatoes, put them in a freezer bag, and throw them into the mix next time you’re making a spag bol. 24. Snack time When you’re on the run snack foods are oh-so-tempting but oh-so-expensive. Make some time to whip up your own. Snacks like muesli bars, slices and sweet or savoury muffins. Pack them in your bag in the morning for that energy-hit when you need it. 25. Seek out the sausages Free food on campus abounds. Use your nose to sniff out the snags or if you’re lucky, chicken satay, that student clubs and societies often have on offer. Even if it’s not free, it will be substantially cheaper than the local café. SHOPPING 26. Do I get a student discount on that? Always ask about student concessions everywhere you go. Your student ID will bag you many discounts from cinemas, happy hour at the pubs and even online deals. Join the student union to access their cheap and fun recreational activities. Student societies are subsidised by the uni, and frequently host BBQs or other events. Socialising and connecting with fellow students is an important part of campus life too. 27. Discount dockets Any time you grocery shop, get in the habit of flipping your receipt over. There are some fantastic Shop-a-Docket deals to be found on a whole range of things. Take advantage of fuel discounts too. For example, IGA accepts petrol dockets for a 2% discount on your grocery shop. Bonus. 28. No name is a good name Buy generic wherever possible. Food, clothing, and furniture. Sure it’s tempting to have the big brands in life but right now might not be the best time. 29. Body freebies Visit the local student hairdressers for a free haircut. Try some DIY spa treatments – YouTube is your friend here. Hit up the local beauty colleges for a cheap body mud treatment. 30. Delayed gratification So you really need that latest book/piece of clothing/new phone/whatever. Wait it out for 30 days. After this time, see if you still really need or want it. Chances are you won’t and you’ve saved big time in the meantime. 31. Creative gifting Strike a deal with your friends and family about gift giving at Christmas and birthdays. Try ‘no presents’, set a budget or do Secret Santa where you only buy one gift at an agreed set budget. You could also go the creative, caring option by providing ‘services’ as gift. We’re thinking making-your-friend-breakfast-in-bed-for-her-birthday kind of services here. ENTERTAINMENT 32. Stay in Nights out on the town can really eat up your cash pile. Try the entertain-at-home option. You could even start a dinner party club and take it in turns to host. 33. Cash only If you can’t resist the call of the bright city lights, try the ‘cash only’ alternative on your night out. Figure out how much you want to spend and take it in cash. Once it runs out, stick to drinking water and if you’re really frugal, snacking on homemade goodies. 34. Free hook-ups There’s lots of free activities on offer out there in the big wide world. Check out the website Meet Up for free things to do like joining a book club or walking group. 35. Bookworms Why buy books when you can borrow? The local library is a treasure trove and you can always pop the latest hot release on hold too. You might have to wait a little but it’ll save you pennies. 36. Sweat it out … for free Check out sport and recreation offerings at your uni. You might be able to participate in cheap or free yoga and meditation classes or aerobics classes. Utilise university gym facilities. Other low cost ways to keep fit include running, swimming club and plain old walking. These days, many unis also offer low-cost or even free medical and dental services so it’s worth investigating. 37. Furry friends Most of us are suckers for furry felines or playful puppies but don’t give in to the temptation. Pets are expensive. They also require a fair chunk of responsibly. Wait until med school’s over to become a fur parent. 38. Ditch the vices We probably don’t need to mention this but we will. Smoking, drugs and drinking are exxy AND bad for you. Any of them in excess will do serious damage to your hip pocket, not to mention your health. Drink in moderation and opt for clean skin wines over an expensive red. 39. Gamers No new video games until you’ve maxed out ALL levels on your current ones. Consider buying second-hand too and reselling yours after you’re done. 40. Treat yourself You’ve been so good saving your pennies and sticking to the budget but it can be frustrating at times. To reduce the possibility of slipping off the budget track, treat yourself once a month. Set an indulgence budget and have a fab meal at a great restaurant or a night on the town. The rest of the time, be strict.