Invest in yourself.
Invest in yourself. Thinkstock

Skills and study – great personal investments

MARCH represents kick-off time for the hundreds of thousands of young Australians who are just settling into tertiary education. One study I came across found a university degree can deliver a 65% return. In other words, over a working life, graduates can expect to earn 65% more than their mates without a degree.

That's great news for anyone embarking on a degree. However the immediate challenge can be making ends meet.

One of the best ways to keep your money under control is to work out a budget. This should take into account your income and your regular outgoings. Be prepared to sweat the small stuff because when you're on a low or irregular income, the cost of even quite small luxuries can quickly add up. Spending $20 a week on takeaway for instance, can add up to more than $1000 a year.

The government's free TrackMySpend app is a handy tool and it's also worth speaking with your bank to see if you're eligible for a fee-free student account. But skip any offers to open a credit card. If you can get the money side of your life under control, you're giving yourself a decent chance of being able to focus on your studies and that's the main game.

Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac, chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money Magazine.



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