Saving and budgeting as a student

There are a number of expenses you have to consider as a student, and managing your money can be challenging. It's important to be aware and stay on top of your finances. This page contains some useful tips, advice, and resources for spending your money wisely.

Common expenses: Tips for students 

Food and groceries

Food is an inescapable cost for students. Shopping and cooking for yourself is always cheaper than purchasing takeaway or eating out, and can save you lots of money in the long run. There are a number of things you can do to reduce food costs, while still eating nutritious, delicious food.

  • Plan your meals and grocery trips. If you only need half of something for one meal, then plan a second meal incorporating the second half for a following night. This approach can be applied to reduce waste and save money.
  • Making bulk batches of a dish and freezing them in reusable containers is a great way to save time for when you're busy or don't feel like cooking.
  • Check out the ACT Government's The Mixing Bowl: Healthy Recipes for One or Two for lots of great meal ideas.
  • Check out the Eating well page for more info.  

ANUSA's Student Bites program offers students a bag's worth of fresh groceries for a gold coin donation, with weekly deliveries. Keep an eye on the Brian Kenyon Student Space (BKSS) Facebook page for updates. Note that availability is currently being affected by the ACT's lockdown.

Before heading out to the shops, check out supermarkets' online catalogues to easily compare weekly specials. Check out this article in The Canberra Times for some more useful grocery saving tips.


You'll need a MyWay card to use public bus and light rail services in the ACT. Make sure you purchase a student card to get the lowest fares! (To do this, take your student ID card to a recharge agent when purchasing the card.)

You may wish to purchase a bicycle. The ACT has an extensive network of bicycle paths, separate from the main roads. Cycling is a popular, efficient, and scenic way to get around Canberra, and cycling can save you money in the long run.

  • There's an abundance of bike shops in Canberra, and a thriving used-bike market as well.


You can reduce the cost of textbooks with these suggestions:

  • Where possible, purchase used instead of new textbooks (check with your course first to ensure you're still getting an in-date edition).
  • StudentVIP has a large used-textbook marketplace. You can also check Facebook Marketplace and other local buy-and-sell pages for students looking to sell textbooks.
  • However, if you do have to purchase new textbooks, they may be easier to resell.

Please note: if you're struggling to purchase necessary textbooks, ANUSA offers textbook purchasing assistance. Get in contact for more information.

Eating out and shopping

Keep an eye out for weekly specials and student nights. Many Canberra venues offer deals on certain nights of the week. Monday and Tuesday night deals are often the most common, with venues looking to attract customers on these quieter evenings. If you want to explore Canberra's nightlife, Thursday night is student night, with many venues offering free entry.

Use your ANU student ID! Hospitality venues, service providers, and stores often have discounts for university students. Sometimes it's advertised, and sometimes you'll just have to ask "Do you offer a student discount?"

Sport and exercise

ANU Sport gym memberships are some of the most affordable in Canberra, starting at $8 per week. They also have a range of classes and facilities. See more on the ANU Sport website.

You can also attend 5 free fitness classes per week, supported by ANUSA. These include Les Mills' BODYPUMP and RPM, as well as yoga and stretching and flexibility. Check out ANUSA's page for times and more information.

If you enjoy walking or cycling, Canberra has an impressive network of picturesque cycle paths, many of which are easily accessible from the ANU campus. Find information and path maps on Transport Canberra's page.  


If you're thinking about renting a property in the ACT, there are a number of important decisions you'll need to make and a process to go through. Check out the Renting page for detailed information, including topics such as locations to live in Canberra, rental bonds, and signing an agreement.

If you're struggling to meet the costs of renting, see the accommodation bursaries page.

You may be eligible for the the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), which is an incentive that allows the University to offer accommodation to eligible students at a rate below market value. Eligibility is based on income limits.

Government benefits

As a student, you may be eligible to receive a Centrelink payment, including Youth Allowance, Austudy, and ABSTUDY. If you are receiving one of these benefits, you may also be eligible for reduced-cost prescription medications and concessions on electricity and gas bills, through a Low Income Health Care Card. See Services Australia's Centrelink payments and services page for more information.

For information on payments for those who have recently moved to Australia, see Services Australia's Help for refugees, humanitarian entrants and new arrivals page.

Unsure about anything? ANUSA's Student Assistance Team can offer assistance understanding Centrelink's policies and procedures.

HECS and HELP fees

The University has a dedicated HECS-HELP page containing detailed information.

Budgeting tools and resources

Budgeting can be a great way to effectively manage your finances. Using a budgeting tool (even just for a week or two) is a great way to get a sense of where your money is being spent. Moneysmart is an Australian Government initiative offering useful free tools, tips, and guidance.

  • Check out their helpful Budget planner to work out exactly where your money is going and learn how to do a budget.
  • Moneysmart also has a helpful Student life and money page, with information tailored to university students.


Getting help

See the Financial advice and support page for support options.

Page Owner: Wellbeing