The Uni Student’s Guide to Saving and Making Money


Ah, the glorious days of youth, carefree socialising, and a vibrant campus life.  That’s the university life…for some. For many others, never mind that you’ve actually not had more than six hours of sleep since the weekend before you matriculated, you’re actually relatively, or absolutely broke.

If you haven’t already heard, here are some of the ways you can keep yourself financially afloat in university before you make it out and get your first decent paycheque.


Buy used textbooks and sell them back

Buying used textbooks has become so much easier these days.  You can do it the good old way of trading them with your uni buddies, trawl university forums, or get them online at one of many websites today.

Try BookInBookOut, which stocks a wide range of used titles across various subjects.  Prices go as low as $5 for older editions textbooks with many sellers. If possible, find out from others who have taken the module whether or not the professor makes a lot of references and materials from the textbook or whether the course notes are the primary sources. If the textbook isn’t relied on heavily, it may be a good option getting an older edition of the textbook and get additional notes from your privileged classmates who could buy shiny new ones.

Other sites that are worth checking out are BookFishing, which also sells comics, and Carousell, which also sells everything else.


Limit those suppers

Supper outings are the silent killers of your budget as a uni student, especially so if you stay in a hall. Granted, sometimes it’s just impossible to not have a 2 a.m meal especially if you ended your practice late and you don’t want to miss out on some socialising. However, those 5 bucks suppers can quickly roll up to quite a huge expense per month.

Limit suppers to when you really need it, and realise that you really don’t have to socialise all the time, and neither can your waistline and pocket take too many late-night carb fest.


Maximise that student card while you still can

As a university student, you’re in your final years of being able to proudly flash a student card and get discounted meals and tickets etc.  These days, your student card gives you a lot more perks than a discount off a soggy Subway sandwich.  Check your university website and find great deals and discounts off anything from large local online retailers like Lazada to Escape games, cafes, and popular restaurants.

Don’t get carried away though, your student card is meant to save you money, not to entice you to spend more than you should.


Giving tuition

If you have time, giving private or small-group classes can really give you a great financial boost. With so many tuition agencies around, getting tuition assignments isn’t that hard, even for a complete newbie.

Experienced tutors or those who teach JC students can expect to earn upwards of $ 35 an hour, not shabby at all for a part-time gig. Consider giving intensive revision classes during your three-month summer break to give yourself that extra cash flow.


Start freelancing

Freelancing has become a lot more common and getting assignments is no longer such a mysterious process. Signing up on freelancer sites is free, and you’d be overwhelmed by the variety and scope of projects you find on these sites. There are the ridiculous $5 per article assignments, and ones that are actually interesting, involve some level of cerebral challenge, and pay well.

One of the advantages of freelancing over giving tuition is that you don’t spend any time on travelling at all, and honestly not every one has the patience to explain organic chemistry two hundred times.  But better still, freelancing gives you actual work experience. This is your chance to work on paid assignments in graphic design, writing, web development, or social media marketing and advertising.  Getting the first assignment is the toughest part, but once you have your first client review, the rest becomes easier.

Freelancing is a great way to earn decent money (in USD too) while dabbling in work that you’re interested in, at your own time and pace. The work that you do here could eventually add to your own resume and portfolio, giving you a boost in securing your first job out of university.

Check out Upwork, a freelance site that is user friendly and has a very wide variety of jobs listed from all over the world.


Get a student credit card

If you’re broke or near broke, you may really need some credit to keep you afloat. Beware though, to use it wisely and only when you really need it, otherwise you’d be sinking further in the pool of poverty and getting into a bad habit of spending beyond your means.

Student credit cards typically come with no minimum income requirement, such as the Citibank Clear Card, which gives you free entry to night clubs and bars. It also gives you more than 5% rebates on dining, groceries, petrol and shopping.

The Maybank E-Vibes Card also comes without a minimum income requirement, and gives you cashback on purchases and deals on movie tickets.

It’s tough being a poor student, but it’s also the best time to cultivate good money habits and resourcefulness that will serve you well when you join the madness that is known as the ‘Working World’.


 For more financial tips and tricks to optimise your financial lifestyle, visit and learn all the best moves to make with your money.

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