With much of the country now vaccinated against COVID-19, students will soon be heading back to in-classroom learning. For post-secondary students, many will be living away from home as well, some for the first time ever.
With tuition costs rising and many students having faced unemployment for the past year due to the pandemic, the need for budgeting has never been more important. Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada shares 10 budgeting tips for post-secondary students returning to school this September.
- Make a budget. You can’t stay on top of your finances without a budget. To create one, simply write down your monthly income (whether it be through a job or student loan) and compare it to your outgoing expenses. Expenses might include rent, textbooks, food, gas, car insurance or public transit. If your expenses outweigh your income, then you might need to make some adjustments by decreasing spending or trying to find ways to make more money. Be sure to set aside some money for entertainment in your budget. It’s unrealistic to live on a budget that allots no time for fun, so if you don’t include money for entertainment, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
- Track your spending. Once you have your budget, you need to stick to it. Track your spending either in a spreadsheet or an app to ensure that you’re not going over your allotted expenses. If you find you’re spending more in one area, you’ll need to adjust your budget accordingly. It can be easy to get carried away with spending during school, so it’s imperative that you pay attention to where your money is going.
- Leverage student discounts. Many stores, restaurants, cinemas and other businesses offer discounts to students, so be sure to ask if there’s one available before you buy something. You can also get a Student Price Card, which offers discounts on various goods and services across Canada. Just be sure that you’re not overspending just for the sake of getting a discount.
- Apply for scholarships or grants. Do some research on various scholarships, bursaries and grants, as it’s often an easy way to bring in extra money. Oftentimes, grants are given simply for general student expenses, so it could be a great way to get some additional cash for daily expenses or extra cushioning. Each year, Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada offers a number of $1,000 scholarships to post-secondary students across Atlantic Canada. Scholarships are open to residents of Atlantic Canada (regardless of age) who will be enrolled in an accredited post-secondary program in the upcoming academic year.
- Get a job. While you will want to focus on your studies, it’s not unreasonable to work a part-time job while in school. Just be sure not to take on more hours than you can manage. If you prefer to work for yourself and set your own hours, consider getting a side hustle.
- Buy and sell used textbooks. Check your school’s bookstore or even online sites like Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace to see if used textbooks are being sold at a cheaper price. Once you’re done with a textbook, sell it on to another student and put some extra cash in your pocket.
- Cook at home. Eating out can be very expensive, so try and cook at home as much as possible. Plan your meals, buy only what you need, shop at discount grocery stores, and don’t splurge on brand-name products. Where possible, bring leftovers for your lunch instead of buying it on campus. Learn how to grocery shop on a budget.
- Resist impulse buys. If you have a student loan, it can seem like you have lots of cash flow, which can lead to buying things you really don’t need. Try and limit shopping sprees or stick to second-hand shops. It can be hard to say no to friends who might be going out on a big expensive outing, but by sticking to your frugal budget, you’ll come out on top in the long run.
- Make coffee at home. Coffee might only cost you $2 a day, but it can add up if you purchase it daily. Make coffee at home and bring it with you to save big.
- Choose free activities for fun. Instead of spending lots of money on entertainment, find free ways to keep busy. Go for a hike, check out a free museum or simply hang out at home with friends.
Being a student is expensive, and living frugally can be tough. Keep in mind that student life is only temporary, so try and enjoy it while you can. Do your best to graduate with as little debt as possible. The financial decisions you make now can affect your financial freedom in the future.
For a free consultation with one of our credit counsellors, contact us today.