How to Manage Your Money in College (and Why You Need to)
Try out these tips and tricks to managing your money while in school.
This article was written by Anthony Geremia
I’ll admit that I didn’t have much money sense when I first came to college. It was the first time I was really financially independent, and I wasn’t used to it. I worked part-time, and didn’t live on residence, so I thought I was making money to spend, which was a big mistake. It was only a few years into school, when my bank statement was looking pretty bad, that I started really looking at my spending habits, and what I could fix, in order to crawl out of the money pit. The start of a new semester is the perfect time to look at your own habits and start fresh. Here are some suggestions that actually worked for me.
Give yourself a weekly budget
This will be tough at the start of a new semester, when you need to purchase school supplies, books, and otherwise have a bunch of “I need one of those” moments, but it’s worth trying to come up with a budget a week or two into classes.
Basically, figure out an amount of money you’ll be spending each week, and go the entire week only spending that much. If you need to, make a list of what you’re going to need to buy, and what your expenses will be. If you’re working and earning cash, try and make it so that you’re not spending more than what you earn, and you still have money in the bank. It may take a bit of time to get it right, but you’ll soon arrive at a dollar amount you can avoid going over. If you’re wondering where to start, here’s a handy Money Calculator tool from the Government of Canada.
Similarly, keep track of your bills, and make sure to pay them on time and in full, to avoid interest and getting a bad credit score, which can and will follow you around long after college.
Use what the college offers
An important aspect of budgeting is being aware of what you can get on the cheap, and this includes what’s available at Centennial College. For one thing, you can get into the gym for free. But there’s so much more offered. I’ve written about free and inexpensive services Centennial College offers before, including medical prescriptions, legal advice, transit discounts, boxes of fresh food, and more.
Never buy anything new (except for groceries)
In the case of textbooks, you can always have a look on Amazon, or the secondary market, and that includes Centennial College’s own board of used textbooks. You can even check them out from a library, if they have it. The extra time is always worth the saved money, particularly since we’re potentially talking about hundreds of dollars.
As for clothing, while you’ll want at least a few articles of business-professional clothing, for day-to-day life you don’t need to dress formally, and there’s no reason not to shop at Goodwill or a thrift store. As a student, you’re one of the target markets.
Finally, the grocery situation. Basically, you want to avoid eating out. Groceries are always cheaper, and always healthier for you. It can be difficult when your friends are always going out for meals, but as long as you have at least a few home-cooked ones, you’re doing well. Also, make your own coffee if you can. Starbucks may be good, but your own brew costs less, and those costs add up over time.
College is the time to figure out how to manage your money in a controlled environment, so it’s a skill for life. Learning to budget, shop frugally, and not have a lifestyle you can’t afford are essential life skills. College may be the first time you’re managing money on your own, and it’s the perfect little laboratory for figuring out what sort of saver you’re going to be for the rest of your life.
Discover your future at Centennial College