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Budgeting Tips for Students

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# Monday, September 08, 2014
Monday, September 08, 2014 9:33:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( Finance )

Once again it is the beginning of September, which means "back to school" for many college and university students.

Recent years have seen significant increases in tuition costs as well as standard of living costs such as food, fuel and rent. As a result it is getting tougher for many college and university students to get by financially.

If you are a returning post-secondary student then please consider these budgeting tips to help you save as much money as possible.

Tip #1: Make a Budget and Track Expenditures

Our first budgetary tip is to make a budget! It is often the unexpected costs that hurt us the most (and this applies to more people than just students).

Try to monitor your expenditures and add any costs not accounted for to your budget, recalculating the numbers as you go.

By doing this you will have a great handle on your financial situation and will avoid any nasty money situations while in school.

Tip #2: Avoid Overspending When School Starts

The most dangerous financial time for a student is at the start of the school year. The provincial student aid money is in the account and the bank account is still looking good!

What better time to get that new mobile device you wanted? Or that surround sound and movie system that pounds the walls and windows!

Beware of that early "I have the money so I am buying it" urge. There has been more than one student who has regretted their early semester purchases!

Tip #3: Eat Cheap, Healthy Food

Food can be expensive, especially when eating out on a steady basis.

Let’s assume an average meal in a restaurant costs $20 and that a student eats out three times a week. Over the course of two semesters (8 months) this adds up to over $650 in restaurant bills!

However, it is actually possible to have a healthy, well-balanced diet that is also easy on the pocketbook.

The first thing to consider is eating less meat since meat is often the most expensive part of meal. There are numerous alternative protein sources such as legumes (e.g. beans), nuts, cheese and yoghurt.

The next suggestion is to cook lots of homemade soups and stews. Both can be made rather cheaply, and both of these foods can also be frozen for later consumption.

Also consider these cheap, healthy foods for your home cooked meals:
  • Cabbage (makes a great soup).
  • Carrots.
  • Kale.
  • Onions.
  • Beans and peas (chickpeas are especially cheap).
  • Seeds.
  • Sprouts (e.g. sprouting seeds, click here for more).
  • Rice (avoid processed white rice that is devoid of nutrition).
  • Nuts (they go great in a salad).
  • Peanut butter (enough said)!
  • Eggs.
  • Yoghurt.
Hold on, I hear some people saying: "I wish I had the time to cook"! To a degree you can alleviate this by cooking in very large batches and then freezing meals for later consumption. All you need is access to a freezer. However, there will always be the trade-off of saving time (by ordering or going out) versus saving money.

Tip #4: Consider Part Time Work

Not everyone’s study workload in college or university is the same. If you find you have spare time on your hands after the school work is finished you might want to consider a part-time job.

Many students avoid incurring a large amount of student debt via a part-time job while in post-secondary education.

Here are some job types that are ideal for part-time students:
  • Waiter/waitress (tips vary widely depending on where you work).
  • ANY on-campus job (your school should have some sort of careers office, check with them as early as possible).
  • Teaching assistant (also known as "TAs").
  • Freelance work for those with strong, specific skills (e.g. computer repair, writing, etc.)
  • Childcare (make money while doing your homework).

Tip #5: Don’t Miss Out on Available Bursaries and Scholarships

A scholarship is a monetary award to a student that is based on one’s performance at school (e.g. grades and extracurricular activities).

A bursary is also a monetary award for students but is based more on economic need as opposed to grades.

Make sure you check out all available sources for these grants, which come from a wide variety of sources. (Oftentimes high schools will help high school students apply for grants available to them.)

Note that there are also scholarships out there for people living with a disability as well as scholarships designed for native Canadians going to a post-secondary school.

Use the following resources to look for scholarships and bursaries:

Conclusion

We hope you found these tips on saving money as a student useful. If you have any feedback please contact us, or better yet leave a comment!