A Friend’s Advice for Navigating Australia as an International Student!

Welcome to our blog, international students in Australia! We’re here to be that good
friend who not only cheers you on but also cautions you against the potential pitfalls
you may encounter while studying abroad.
In this blog, we aim to play the role of that good friend, offering guidance to
international students in Australia. However, in this blog we won't be discussing the
typical topics such as working more hours than allowed, neglecting studies,
changing courses without proper consideration, or failing to file tax returns. Instead,
we will focus on other important aspects that international students should avoid.
So, if you are ready, let's dive into it. But before we begin, I must clarify that we are not
financial advisers or accountants, and the information we provide is of a general
nature. Therefore, it is crucial for you to consider your personal circumstances when
making decisions based on the advice given in this blog.

The Allure of Tech: Avoid Expensive Gadgets and Phone Contracts

Now, let's move on to the first topic, which is purchasing expensive gadgets and
phones. Let's face it, many students who come to Australia are eager to own the
latest and greatest phones available in the market. There's nothing wrong with this
desire if you have the means to pay for it upfront. However, most students end up
opting for contract plans, which involve monthly payments for both the phone and
the phone plan. These contracts can span over a long period, such as 12, 24, or even
36 months. While $100 may not seem like a significant amount of money at the
beginning of your career in Australia, it can add up over time. When considering
purchasing the latest phone on the market, it's crucial to reflect on the fact that you'll
be paying for it over a period of two or three years. This can amount to a substantial
sum of money. Therefore, it's important to determine whether you truly need the
phone or if it will simply be a luxury item. For instance, if you require it for work
purposes such as food delivery or content creation, it makes perfect sense to
consider buying it. However, if it's solely for the purpose of showing off to others, it
may be wise to wait until you have enough money to purchase it outright.
Learn from 'Fox': Buy Smart, Save Big! A former student, now a citizen, 'Fox', never fell
for contracts or plan, particularly when it comes to mobile phones. Instead, he
always purchased them outright. This approach allowed him to take advantage of
excellent deals that arise throughout the year, resulting in significant savings.
Therefore, I encourage you to consider this before making a hasty decision to buy an
expensive phone or any other gadgets.

Guard Your Personal Information: Protect Your Tax File Number

Moving on to the second point, it's crucial for international students to be cautious
about sharing their Tax File Number (TFN) with everyone. A TFN is issued by the
Australian Taxation Office and is necessary for working and lodging tax returns in
Australia. However, it's important to note that this number is only issued once in a
lifetime. Therefore, it should only be disclosed to individuals once you have secured a
job. Typically, when you are hired, you will receive a Tax File Declaration form, which
requires your TFN. It is crucial that you do not share this number with just anyone. It is
your own secret number that only you, your accountant, or your employer should
know. Therefore, ensure that you keep this number safe and secure.

Credit Where Credit’s Due: Be Mindful of Your Credit Score

Another important aspect for international students in Australia is paying attention to
your credit score. Some of you may not be familiar with what a credit score is.
Essentially, it is a number between 0 and 1,000 that indicates your creditworthiness to
financial institutions such as banks. It reflects how likely you are to repay a loan if you
were to borrow money.
As an international student in Australia, you may not have access to all types of
loans initially. However, if you plan to stay in Australia for a significant period,
especially after completing your studies, you may need to seek borrowing options or
loans. In such cases, your credit score will play a significant role. Whenever you apply
for a loan, lenders will check your credit score. If your credit score is low, they may not
approve your loan application, or you may have to approach other financial
institutions that charge high interest rates due to your poor credit score.
For example, one of ‘Fox’s’ close friends faced difficulties obtaining a loan even after
obtaining permanent residency because of his low credit score. There are various
factors that contribute to your credit score, which I won't delve into in this blog.
However, we may explore this topic in future blogs. It is crucial to pay attention to
your credit score, and you can check it for free on different websites that offer this

Gambling and Scams: Don't Bet Your Future

Moving on, another point to consider is avoiding gambling and investing in scams.
Some of you may already be aware that gambling for individuals aged 18 or above is
legal in Australia. As a result, there are numerous online portals and websites that
function as casinos in the country. If you are above the age of 18, it can be quite
tempting to engage in this activity. However, it is crucial to recognize the potential
consequences. Losing a significant amount of money can be devastating,
particularly for students. For example, ‘Fox’s’ other friend who had to return to his
home country due to his gambling addiction. Initially, he arrived in Australia on a
student visa, but his habit of gambling led him to use the money intended for his
tuition fees. Consequently, his academic and professional prospects were severely

Beware of Too-Good-To-Be-True Investments

Additionally, it is essential to exercise caution when considering investment
opportunities as an international student in Australia. While I won't mention any
specific investments, I do have a suggestion for you. Before investing any money in
any schemes, it is crucial to conduct thorough research. You must be vigilant
because there are individuals out there who seek to scam unsuspecting investors.
Regardless of your good intentions, it is important to be mindful of this reality. We are
not advising you to invest or refrain from investing, but rather urging you to be
cautious and diligent in your research before making any financial commitments.

Dining Smart: Avoid the Trap of Eating Out Too Often

The next item on our list of things to avoid is excessive eating outside. Now, there is
nothing inherently wrong with dining out. Majority of Australians enjoy eating out a
couple of times a week. However, it's important to note that eating out frequently can
lead to consuming a lot of unhealthy junk food. This not only impacts your wallet, as
eating out tends to be more expensive, but it also negatively affects your health.
To mitigate these issues, I suggest learning some cooking skills before coming to
Australia, especially if you don't already know how to cook. Once you're here, try
purchasing fresh groceries and preparing your own meals. You can even cook in bulk
to save time, preparing meals for the next two or three days in one go. Store your
food in containers so you can easily grab and go when you're busy with work or
studies. By doing so, you'll avoid the pitfalls of excessive dining out.

The Buy Now, Pay Later Trap

Lastly, let's discuss the misuse of buy now, pay later schemes. These schemes have
become increasingly popular in Australia over the past few years. Some of you may
already be familiar with them, while others may not have heard of them before.
Essentially, buy now, pay later schemes allow you to divide your payments for an
item into four instalments. For example, if you want to purchase a new phone worth
$1,000, instead of paying the full amount upfront, you can pay it off in four equal
payments of $250.
While this may seem like a great option, allowing you to avoid paying the full price
immediately, it's important to exercise caution. If you fail to repay the amount within
the specified time frame, you may incur additional penalties and higher interest
rates. Therefore, it's crucial to carefully consider your financial situation before opting
for buy now, pay later schemes.

Conclusion: Navigating Wisely for Successful Studies

As an international student, embarking on your journey in Australia will present you
with a plethora of opportunities and challenges. However, by remaining mindful of
these common pitfalls, you can guarantee a more secure, enjoyable, and successful

Hillan Nzioka
For the editorial.


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