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Ashley, The Queen Of Living Well For Less

Uni student Ashley Faulkner is the queen of living well for less. Here's how she gets away with spending just $30 a week at the supermarket.

5 October 2021

June 1, 2021

Life as a student is stressful enough without the worrying about how to get by each day.

Before I headed down south to be a fulltime student, I had no idea about money. I just went to the machine and kept getting money out. It was $200 for a concert ticket, Nikes, Doc Martens, a gym membership. But I’ve changed.

One day, I sat down and calculated how much money I would have to last me with only my student loan as an income, until I was flat broke.

According to these calculations, I would have definitely been on the streets by now. But my balance has barely budged.

How? Here are my secret top tips to being the queen of living well for less.

1. Share the load

I live with five other flatmates who like me, hate spending money. The best way to save is by buying ingredients for dinner together.

We all cook one night a week (Sunday – Friday) which feeds all six of us hungry students for as little as $10 each for the week, which comes down to as little as $1.70 per plate for dinner.

Compare that to some of my friends who cook for themselves. They spend roughly $50 at least a week to cook for themselves! That gives us an extra $40 a week that we ‘earned’ by saving.

2. Buy the basics in bulk!

A key to saving is buying food staples in bulk.

We buy our ingredients fortnightly and split the cost. An important key to how we save grocery shopping is buying in bulk. We save by buying on special foods like pasta and rice or anything else we use often, such as breadcrumbs and even grated cheese.

Although it may seem expensive at first, it saves a huge amount of money – and time going back and forth to the supermarket.

3. Discounts, discounts, discounts

Why spend more than you have to?

The world is usually a bit forgiving to us struggling students and student discounts definitely come in handy. Anything from stationery to gelato to dentist’s appointments, any discount is better than nothing if it saves you that little extra cash!

Not a student or a senior? No worries. Loyalty cards are your way to go. Places such as New World and Countdown allow us to save as we spend, and Pak’nSave always has the best deals for cheaper food.

4. Use free facilities

Cut out all those unnecessary subscriptions. After all, a gym membership can range from $20-$30 a week, which the same amount I spend on food for the whole week!

As students, we have free access to a three-story recreational building with two gyms, basketball courts and tennis courts! As an extra bonus, we get hot showers, which saves us just that little extra cash on the side.

Like my Mum always says, your health is your wealth, and looking after your body is important and will save you in the long run.

Maybe you have school tennis courts near you, a jogging or walking trail, or you could swim in the sea.

5. Set a budget

Once you figure out how much you’re paying, set a budget! Don’t bother paying monthly subscriptions to specialised budget apps or paying someone to do it for you. You can do it yourself.

I enter everything I spend on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, and from there I can work out my predicted future spending and even my average spending per month or week.

This means I can give myself a certain amount to spend per week on food, power, Wi-Fi, and entertainment. Hey, anything left over is just a bonus!

6. Freebies!

Enter for those giveaways! Check social media outlets and enter for those pesky giveaways. I have managed to win over $200 of food, tickets, and vouchers. I even won a microwave! It costs nothing and only takes you a minute.

We managed to get six boxes of HelloFresh for free, which saved us up to $900!

People usually ignore small things like this because they think “I’ll never win it”, but you never know…

Get more tips from Ashley and up-to-date info on saving and investing

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