This section outlines strategies for minimising your living expenses if you are on a tight budget.
Student Financial Aid has also produced a one-page consumer guide for students new to Melbourne - Getting Started in Melbourne.
Choosing a phone or internet provider can be daunting, particularly as consumers are often bound to a contract for a period of time. We encourage students to take their time to do some research before choosing a phone or internet contract. Other options besides contracts are available also, such as prepaid mobile sim cards and the University wi-fi connection.
The Australian Consumer Communications and Media Authority have factsheets for consumers, which include relevant questions to ask when seeking a phone contract. Telephone companies in Australia still offer untimed calls on land-line (non-mobile) phones. Often a landline can be bundled with an internet connection, but remember to compare the costs of calls.
For internet connection, the Compare Broadband site is very easy to use for those looking for the best deal.
Electricity and Gas
There are a range of electricity providers, with different products such as green energy. The Victorian Government website Your Choice compares these products and also gives useful advice about energy efficiency.
Supermarkets vs Convenience Stores
As you are probably aware, it is usually cheaper to buy supplies (such as bread, groceries and household products) at a supermarket than purchase them at a Convenience Store (such as a 7-Eleven). Also, some supermarkets are cheaper than others. Aldi and NQR ('Not Quite Right') Stores may be cheaper than other stores for groceries and household products.
PlanningA simple way of economising is to plan weekly purchases, and perhaps even plan your meals before going shopping.
If you are in a shared household, start up a contribution system (often called a 'kitty') with your housemates to purchase commonly used household products eg. coffee, tea, bread, milk, sugar, butter / margarine, rice, soap, cleaning products, etc.
Consider the generic or 'home-brand' products at the Supermarket, particularly products such as toilet paper, aluminium foil, plastic wraps, flour, sugar, tinned tomatoes, etc. They will be cheaper and are usually produced by the manufacturers of well-known brands.
If possible (and it is difficult!) avoid impulse buying. Shopping when you feel hungry is not a good idea.
Usually the cheapest places to buy good food are the markets around Melbourne. Some of Melbourne's best known markets include the Queen Victoria, Footscray, Preston, South Melbourne and Prahran Market. All are easily accessible by public transport.
Melbourne has fairly distinct seasons and the temperature has a broad range over the year. In summer the temperature can reach 35-40 degrees (celsius) while in winter it will average 12-15 degrees (celsius) during day time, with colder nights. If you are moving from interstate or overseas, it is likely to be cheaper for you to bring warm clothes from home rather than to buy new ones.
Factory outlets sell cheaper new clothes, recycled clothes, and warehouse seconds.
Opportunity ('Op') shops (shops run by charity organisations such as St Vincent de Paul and The Salvation Army) and markets are good places to buy cheaper new or recycled clothes.
Sunday markets often stock clothing and shoes. Check the web for Sunday market times and locations (some are called Trash and Treasure markets).
Opportunity Shops sell cheap furniture, and other items such as crockery and cutlery.
The Good Shepherd Buying Service offers discounts of up to 20% to Health Care Card holders. The service sells furniture, bedding, TVs, 'white goods' (such as fridges and washing machines) and other household items.
Cheaper Transport Costs
See the Transport Costs page.