Summer is over and now you’re here, trying to figure out how to make school and life work all while not making silly money decisions…RIGHT? I hope so.
School is hard, school is expensive and not only that but being a student can sometimes feel like your drowning, in more ways than one. Drowning in assignments, tough decisions, costs, fees and of course...Debt. Don’t worry; when it comes to your precious coins, I’m here to help! Below are my 8 helpful tips for money management while in school.
Make a budget.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.. Sorry if I triggered any anxiety with this one lol
I know I always say it but I say it because it works. Making a budget lets you know how much you can afford based on income, expenses, and savings and of course the important part… what will be available for spending money. In other words it helps to keep you on track.
I know tracking your budget while balancing your lectures and assignments (and squeezing in some time to binge watch your favourite shows) sounds like a lot but since we’re living in such a tech-savvy generation, we might as well use technology to our advantage. For example, mint.com has a great app which can help you stay up-to-date on your budget, spending habits as well as your financial goals. It connects directly to your accounts, has great visual charts, alerts you on overspending and most importantly it’s safe and easy to use. It’s definitely worth checking out however nothing beats the good old fashioned pen and paper.
2. Get a part time job or side hustle(s)to increase income.
“A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some.” —Joe Moore
This is pretty straightforward but unless you’ve just won the lottery, you’re going to need a job. Of course as a student you’re going to need something flexible with your classes. One option you can consider is a work-study job available on-campus. Outside of that there are the usual jobs that often operate outside of the typical 9-5 hours. Great options for students include: retail, restaurants, after-school programs, etc. (Heads up! The holiday season is around the corner! In other words peak hiring time! - Brandesha)
If you’re already employed but could still use some extra cash to make ends meet the way you want, look into a side hustle or an additional side job. Things like Uber, Lyft, Askatask, tasker or baby sitting are all really flexible options which allow you to make your own schedule therefore putting you in control. Can I hear a “Cha-ching!”
3. Stop paying Banking Fees.
As a student, most mainstream banks offer free student accounts which can include unlimited transactions in other words #savings. Usually all you have to do is show your bank proof of enrolment (a letter or a timetable) and they’ll have you set up within seconds. It only makes sense to take full advantage of your student status by not paying those awful monthly fees.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to check out some of the other banks that are available as well. For example,banks like Tangerine or Simplii offer free banking accounts regardless of whether or not you are a student so this will not only save you a few bucks but it also saves you the extra work of continuously reporting to your bank regarding your school enrolment.
4. Borrow/Buy used textbooks
I cannot stress this enough!I bought every single textbook brand new when I was in college, which sometimes easily added up to the equivalent cost of one month’s rent. I was even more frustrated when we barley used the textbook. Saying that, always double check if its a REQUIRED book or just helpful (Read the course outline and ask a friend who previously took the course).
If it is required, I would suggest joining some facebook groups your school has (I promise you every school has one) and seeing if people are selling or renting their books there. Also check amazon, kijiji and used bookstores.
5. Utilize the resources you have available to you… (gym, library, etc)
One of the great things about being on a college campus (besides your WONDERFUL education) is that you are pretty much connected to everything as long as you have a student card. Take advantage of the ‘free’gym, fitness classes and dental/health services (You’re actually paying for it so you might as well get your money’s worth!). Studying at the library can not only be very productive but it can also save you money on hydro and internet!
6. Look into student cell phone plans, data/internet plans, etc
Usually at the beginning of the semester you will see a bunch of sales people out there with intentions to get you signed up for a bunch of random things, a common one being credit cards (please be cautious when it comes to credit cards). While it can be intimidating, I suggest you check out what deals different companies are offering students. Sometimes you can get cheaper cellphone plans and/or Internet packages. If you don’t see these people try reaching out to your providers directly to see if they offer any student rates. Get your hustle on.
7. Needs vs Wants
To put things into perspective… You need to eat to survive but do you need to purchase a $15 meal for lunch and a $5 dollar coffee five times a week? Not so much.
Prioritization is super important when it comes to your money. It’s always ironic seeing how broke students already are yet everything on campus costs what feels to be $1000. It definitely adds up! Not saying you can’t treat yourself but if you have financial goals consider packing your lunch.
The faster you learn to sort through priorities in your life the better. Luckily college or university is the perfect place to figure this out, both in finance and life :)
8. FREE MONEY $$$ (bursary, grants or scholarships)
Student loans are not the only way to fund your education. There’s free money out there waiting for you. Head over to your financial aid office, go online and do all the research you can to see what your eligible for and APPLY, APPLY, APPLY! For example, there can be money available through your financial aid office if you’re a first generation student or even if you have community/campus involvement, etc. You can also check out https://www.scholarshipscanada.com to see what other scholarships, grants and bursaries are available.
As obvious as it may seem, many people don’t take the time to go through this. If you’re dreading the thought of student loans or struggling to pay from your pocket, it’s highly recommended to go out there and see what you can get access to.
Happy studies, you got this ;)