Knowing how to budget is an important skill that everyone should have – students included. Being a student in college or university can be a busy and possibly stressful time – but managing your money will give you one less thing to worry about. All you need to do is make a budget and stick to it.
The single most important thing when making a budget, is knowing how much money you make. This is for everyone, not just students. You need to know how much money you make!
This is the basis for determining what’s realistic in terms of spending. Once you know how much you make and how much you can afford to spend, the following tips will help you stay on budget.
- If distance allows, live at home with your parents. Even if they do charge you rent, it will likely be far cheaper than anywhere else.
- If living at home is not an option, look for roommates. Living on campus can be pretty expensive, so splitting the cost of a house or an apartment with one or two other people will really help you save money.
- Use coupons and price match to save a ton of money. Make sure you build a grocery stockpile to save even more.
- Cook from scratch and avoid buying the more expensive convenience foods.
- Buy groceries in bulk and split the cost with a roommate, friend or your parents.
- Keep your car parked and take the bus. Many universities have student reduced-rate bus passes which is much cheaper than gas and parking costs.
- If you’re driving or know someone who is, carpooling is a great way to save money.
- Try and limit your nights out because they can get expensive very fast.
- Keep you student ID handy, since many places offer discounts to students. Also, sign up for and use an SPC card.
- Spend time at your place or at a friend’s. Having a potluck is more cost efficient than eating out and if you’re getting together to have drinks, there is no need to pay a cover charge – but drink responsibly!
- Apply for as many scholarships as you can. Scholarships Canada is a great place to start looking.
- Buy used books – not just from the bookstore, but check out bulletin boards and ads posted on Kijiji or Craigslist.
- If you know someone who has taken the same course that you now are, see if you can borrow their books or check if they are available from the library.
When you’re making your budget, don’t forget to put some money aside for savings. Even if it isn’t very much – every little bit helps.
Learning to manage your money as early as possible will only make it easier to continue doing so in the future. And wouldn’t you rather finish school with a bit of money in the bank instead of a massive pile of debt?