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How to budget – student edition

Student budgeting.

Budgeting for Students

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.

Housing

  • 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.

Groceries

Grocery Shopping List

Transportation

  • Keep your car parked and take the bus. Many universities have students 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.

Entertainment

  • Try and limit your nights out because they can get expensive very fast.
  • Keep your 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!

Education costs

  • 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?

Are you a student? How do you budget? Please share your tips in the comments!

Comments

  1. Katherine

    Another thing that you can do is sell your books back once the course is done. I go to the University of Waterloo, and they have a student union-run bookstore. They sell your books on consignment and take 15% of the sale price to help you sell your books. However, I have also sold some of my books on Amazon, or directly to friends. Even if I only make back $30 or so, it’s still $30 more than I had, and my closet isn’t as cluttered with old textbooks!

    The best way to save money is to not eat on campus, as most food places on campus mark up the cost of food, even with the student card discount. Sometimes you have no time to cook and have no choice, but even so it’s best to eat off campus if at all possible.

    Also, many university clubs and groups offer free events a few times per week, and many information meetings in the evening offer free pizza!

    Finally, not all fees in your tuition are mandatory. For example, I live at home and am covered under my parents’ insurance, so I can opt out of the health and dental coverage and get a refund of about $100 per term; no point in paying for something twice! Your school should have a list of all the incidental fees and whether or not they are optional on the student finances page.

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