8 Ways To Stretch Your Dollar in Melbourne

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8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne

As a (poor) study exchange student who has been in Melbourne for nearly two months, I have exercised my prowess in sniffing out the best deals around to save more dollars for traveling without depriving myself of a generally good standard of living everyday. I got my camel-shade of leather jacket for only AUD25, and a lot of other really great deals around. They said Melbourne is one of the most expensive (but very liveable) cities in the world but that's because they aren't looking at the right places. Although you might get more suggestions from a local, this is an original list from my own experience here. Time to be more frugal than ever:


8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Tullamarine Airport)

8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Tullamarine Airport)

1. Uber Your Way Around (Especially to the Melbourne Airport)


If you are heading for a short trip out of Melbourne by flying or heading home, you might have heard of the following options:
- Get to Southern Cross (AUD3.76 for a regular single trip within Zone 1 - 2hr), then take the Skybus (AUD18 one way) which makes it AUD21.76.
Duration: 40 minutes - 1 hour (depending on traffic conditions)
- Take the metro to Broadmeadows station, then take Bus 901. This takes AUD3.76 in total as well but it's a real bitch to carry your luggage up and down public transport.
Duration: 2 hours

There is also an option of choosing Uber (choose uberX) that has proven to be fast, reliable, very convenient and cheaper than taking the Skybus. For a distance of 20km, the fare came up to AUD42 which is equivalent to the price of taking the Skybus if you're sharing with one more (AUD21/pax) or cheaper if you're sharing with two people (AUD14/pax). Plus you get so much more convenience than trying to maneuver your way to Southern Cross station.
Duration: under 40 minutes (during rush hour)

Alternatively if you have a friend who is willing to drive you to the airport that's the best of course.

Note: Cab fees may differ from where you board from, use the Uber fare calculator.
Grab an additional AUD10 off by using my promo code: WDF42


8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Groupon Australia)
8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Groupon Australia)

2. Groupon Selectively For Dining Experiences
Groupon has become a ridiculous source of joy ever since I started using it. I thoroughly enjoyed a full Teppanyaki lunch complete with ice-cream for AUD20 (original price AUD42) - more on that next time - and will be going for a vegetarian buffet for AUD7.5 (original price AUD15). Feeling extra-sensitive because I was using a Groupon voucher, I looked out for any sense of preferential treatment or bias during my experience but I could not feel any at all. I would still steer clear of facial, beauty, massage and 'experiential' deals on Groupon though. I have received feedback that the Puffing Billy or Yarra Valley deals were scaled back or underwhelming for Groupon users. A little research also shows that arranging your own trip there is also cheaper, so do not rely entirely on Groupon and think that everything costs less on this platform.

8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Footscray for Groceries)
8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Footscray for Groceries)

3. Footscray over Queen Victoria Market (QVM) or Chinatown CBD's Asian Grocery Store (Russell St)
If you are already at QVM for your grocery shopping, you might as well head down to Footscray for better bargains and discounts on your little onions, veggies, meats and fruits. Footscray is an amazing Vietnamese enclave that sells a lot of Asian ingredients, sauces... you name it, they have it. Exchange students, listen up - if you are looking to do a kitchen items haul at the beginning of your term here, it is tempting to go to Russell Street's Asian grocery store which seems to have everything. You will find that all the items you need are marked down considerably (10c to 50c per item) at Footscray's Supermarket instead.

8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Opportunity Stores for Furniture and Clothes)
8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Opportunity Stores for Furniture and Clothes)

4. Treasure-hunting in Opportunity Stores (Brunswick)
The name sounds pretty vague, but to put it plainly, opportunity stores sell second-hand or preloved items. They do occasionally sell brand-new stuff, but that's very rare. Before you skip this point, it is worthy to know that you can get branded goods that are not too shabby in quality - the shopkeepers actually keep to a standard on what they sell. Some of the items you can get from opportunity stores include clothes, furniture, trinkets, kitchen equipment, accessories, bags, books... the list goes on. It's basically a treasure trove in there, especially for the vintage lovers! For exchange students or international students who will be here in Melbourne only temporarily, it is a fantastic way to buy substantially thick winter clothing (that can get expensive), and furniture. It is definitely not for fussy buyers, though if you dig deep enough, you will find something that resonates with you.

8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (1/2 Prices for Best Deals)
8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (1/2 Prices for Best Deals)

5. Eyes peeled for all the 1/2 prices in Coles and Woolsworth

One of the wisest advice that my friend's mum gave: look out for the 1/2 price sections in Coles and Woolsworth to make the most of every dollar. Trust (Asian) mothers to know their thing when it comes to frugality! I've picked up AUD2.50 for a Tim Tam value-pack, and AUD2.70 for a 3-pack kitchen paper towel rolls. They were all going at half-price, so you know what is the original price of these items. Now it has become a mental disease - I go crazy when I see something on my grocery list at the 1/2 prices corner!

8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (University of Melbourne)
8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (University of Melbourne)

6. University of Melbourne for free meals/ freebies
You will never starve to death in the University of Melbourne which provides a lot of free barbecue lunches on campus. Granted that you can't be eating barbecue lunches everyday, you will at least save a bit on lunch money occasionally if you're feeling financially tight. There are also frequent freebies giveaways right outside Union House and along South Lawn. If you love coffee, join the Coffee Appreciation for Enthusiasts at a small one-time fee of AUD5 for free weekly coffee around campus cafes (which are really good btw). The membership is literally my best buy in Melbourne because otherwise all my allowances will be going into coffee fund. I'm getting so much value for this membership. Many other clubs provide pretty frequent dinners as well with one-time membership fees of AUD10 or there-abouts which is a good deal if you will commit yourself to the club meetings... a good way to meet friends too!

8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (My Chemist Warehouse for Toiletries)

7. My Chemist Warehouse for the cheapest local drugstore
If you are looking to buy that omnipresent Lucas Papaw, the magic price is AUD4.95 - anything more than that is a fleecehouse (hint: Melbourne Central pharmacy on level 1). The name to remember for toiletries is My Chemist Warehouse. They are not boasting when they plastered cheapest prices in town all over, they really are because I've scoured many other drugstores (including Priceline and other smaller names) to ensure that My Chemist Warehouse has the most competitive prices across many pills, bathroom essentials and the Lucas Papaw. So yes, grab your toiletries and assorted medicines here if you need to. They have plenty of outlets sprinkled across the entire city, the most annoying part is that they run out of stocks so quickly.

8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Arthur Daley Clearance House)
8 Ways To Save Money in Melbourne (Arthur Daley Clearance House)

8. Arthur Daley's Clearance House for random cheap essentials
Think of Arthur Daley as the true Daiso of Melbourne. Nobody really knows of this place because the entrance looks pretty dodgy, but I got my foolscap paper stack and adult ponchos for AUD2 each (usual price for a similar size goes from AUD4 and above). I also got my NYX eyebrow pencil here at AUD3.95. There are plenty of kitchen essentials, party accessories, and simply random things that will come in handy eventually found here. A trip to this place is pretty much important for you to get a sense of how much things are priced at, so you don't end up paying too much for certain things. It is located at 33 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.


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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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