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How to Avoid Going Broke When Heading Back to School

It’s that time of year where everything is changing. Summer is done, weather is cooling down, tree’s start to change colour and if you're a student you inevitably will be heading back to school. Wether you're a new or returning student one thing we can all agree on is that school is expensive.

Students have a lot on their plate after tuition fee’s. Thing’s like housing, eating, text books, school supplies and other miscellaneous items add up quick. So what’s the secret, how do you go through post secondary without drowning in debt the whole time? Planning and preparation.

Wait, don’t roll your eyes yet… I understand that all the planning and preparation in the world may still mean that you have loans or debt that you’ll be stuck with. I’m not offering this up as the complete guide to staying out of debt, while that would be amazing I recognize how unrealistic that would be.

A number of things will effect how your financial status will look (age, financial stability, family history, family support, past debts etc) and there is no one size fits all plan for every student.

That being said, there are things you can do and steps you can take to ensure money management during your post secondary experience; these can set you up for good money habits and ultimately a brighter financial future.

Work towards financial independence: The time has come for you to begin the process of managing your own money. If you haven’t started already this looks like, having your own bank account, debit card and budget. Understanding how those things work and how to best utilize them for your specific financial situation is key.

While it’s great to have people in your corner helping guide you, now is the time to take back that independence and decision making power.

Understand your loans and use credit cards with caution: Once you have a good understanding of how your banking works and what your budget will look like, it’s time to look at any loans you may have taken out. Wether its OSAP or a student line of credit, understanding your payment plans, interest and what you can do to keep those numbers from rising rapidly will be really important. This is truly a case where ignorance is not bliss. Borrow only what’s required of you and work hard for the rest!

Something else to be mindful of is at every campus there will inevitably be banks offering students credit cards. They will lure you in with completing the whole process for you and making it as easy as 1-2-3… Careful. YOU DON’T NEED A CREDIT CARD. While credit cards can be good credit building tools when used carefully and correctly, when used without understanding or knowledge they will do nothing but land you in debt FAST.

Make smart choices:

  • Make sure you have a job and stick to your budget.

  • Use student discounts EVERYWHERE you can. Consider getting yourself a SPC card and be sure to carry your student ID with you.

  • Borrow or buy used text books (If you even need the textbook at all)

  • Pay your bills on time to avoid late fee’s.

  • Walk or use public transportation instead of driving all the time.

  • Utilize your library.

Your college experience is just that, yours. Make your decisions wisely and consult the people you love and trust to help you feel more secure in your decision making abilities. While money can be intimidating, it doesn’t always have to be. With hard work, planning and smart money moves you can set yourself up for a great financial future.

Until next time,


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