Tips for Saving Money as an International Student in Canada
Discover the top tips for how you can manage your money while in school.
This article was written by Aditya S., a University Canada West alumnus.
Saving money as an international student can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you save money and prepare an amazing student budget.
1. Budget, budget, and budget!
When it comes to handling your finances, the earlier you start understanding that you need to monitor what comes in and out of your account, the faster you’ll end up getting a grip on your spending habits and start saving your hard-earned money.
Tracking your expenses is not really the rocket science that it seems to be. You can follow a manual process and use a simple excel sheet to track your expenses. You can also find some useful expense tracking excel sheet templates online or you can automate this process using budgeting apps. I personally use the Mint budgeting app by Intuit which tracks all my transactions as I have it linked to my bank account.
2. Improve your spending habits
A large part of having a strong financial base is being able to manage your spending habits. Make sure you follow the famous 50-30-20 budget rule, which allows you to classify your spending into three main categories, 50% for your needs, 30% for your wants, and 20% for your savings and debt repayment.
3. Get a thrifty mindset
There are two types of people in this world. Those who make large sums of money but don’t save much for their retirement and those who don’t make six figures in a year but end up saving and investing their money, and eventually build up a comfy retirement portfolio. Avoid being the first type.
Start saving your money and educating yourself on the different avenues for investing and growing your money. You can also start using tax free savings accounts like RRSPs and TSFAs to invest your money.
4. Learn to utilize the full power of a cash-back credit card
When it comes to credit cards, a free cash-back credit is like the eighth wonder of the world for students. In today’s competitive Canadian banking market, some cards are even offering up to 4% cash-back on purchases, which is phenomenal. But as a student you really need to strategize how you can maximize this return.
First, start by shopping at stores tied to those credit cards or banks. Those purchases are the first to qualify for cash-back. Just filling up your tank at eligible gas stations qualifies for cash-back.
Secondly, utilize all the perks that come with your credit card. For example, free rental car insurance or discounts on flights and hotels.
Lastly, remember to pay your credit card bill on time to avoid interest charges as those can really hurt your financial plans in the long run.
5. Make your coffee at home
Coffee is one of the biggest money wasters. According to entrepreneur and investor Kevin O’Leary, or Mr. Wonderful as he is called on the famous ABC’s TV show Shark Tank, coffee is a huge waste of money. He prefers to make his morning coffee at home which costs him an average of 18 cents per cup, instead of paying $5 for a cup of coffee at a big coffee chain. Get frugal people and start making your coffee at home!
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