U of R’s Top Budgeting Tips for Students
Find out how you can save your money as a student.
Creating a budget is a smart and an important way to plan your financial future. The more you know about the costs of attending university, the less stress you’ll have when you’re focusing on your studies. By tracking your income and expenses, you can create a financial plan that works for you. Here’s how you can start creating your budget:
Know your costs
The first step to creating a budget is knowing what costs will come your way. Discover some of the most common costs associated with students:
1. View your student account
Be sure to check out your student account to view your balance owing, textbook lists and costs, and other charges on your account.
2. Everyday essentials
If you’ve started preparing ahead you may have researched the costs for rent, parking, transportation, tuition, and books, but have you thought about the everyday essentials you will need? Please consider things like toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, laundry costs, toilet paper, paper towel, etc. These may seem like small things that don’t cost a lot, but when you add them up together over a month or a year, they can make a substantial difference to your budget.
3. Costs of going out and socializing
When living at home any free money you have can easily be spent on going out with friends and having fun. But when you’re living on your own and paying your own expenses those outings can really add up and cut into your budget for your essential needs.
4. Find out what funding is available to you
Will you be applying for a student loan/grant through the government or a bank? Will you be applying for awards? Do you have savings or family support? Do you have band funding or other sources available to you?
Government assistance likely will not cover all of your expenses. We’ve found over the years that students expect the funds they receive from the government (loans and grants) to cover all their costs of attending university (living costs, tuition, books). They are often surprised to find that they need to find a way to supplement those funds through other means such as getting a job.
Finance / budgeting tips
Want to know how you could cut costs as a student? Try some of these top tips:
1. Bring a lunch to school or look for free food
If you know you’ll be on campus all day, bring a lunch with you. If you forgot to bring a lunch, didn’t have time, or didn’t plan to spend all day on campus, look to see if you can find an event or club offering a free lunch. You can often find posters all around campus advertising different information sessions or events that offer some free food. If nothing else, know where you can find the least expensive or most filling lunch.
2. Know your money
Know when you have money coming in and when you have payments going out. It will be incredibly important to make sure you know when you have funds coming in (government loans, employment, etc.) and when you have regular payments going out (rent, bills, etc.) so that you can ensure you aren’t charged late fees or interest.
3. Living on campus
If you’re not good at budgeting, consider living in residence and getting a meal plan. This way your costs are set, and you don’t have to worry about grocery shopping and staying within budget. You’ll also save on transportation costs as you won’t be spending money on gas or the bus unless you need to go off campus.
4. Look for low-cost alternatives
Look for low-cost alternatives for everything. See if you can find the textbooks you need used or see if they’re available either at the library or to rent from the bookstore. See if you can find cheap (or free) entertainment. Check out the campus (again look at club events, events on campus, check out the athletic teams for games — they are often free for students to attend), join a club that you’re interested in, join an intramural team, have friends over for a movie or board game night, etc. There are so many low-cost options out there — see where your imagination takes you!
5. Recognize wants vs. needs
We all want things. We all need things. But recognizing the difference is not always easy. It’ll be very important to recognize needs vs. wants. When moving to a new place there may be a need to furnish the place, but while you may need a new couch and table, you probably don’t need the leather recliner couch with built in speakers. Setting a budget and then sticking to it for furnishings and other expenses is a good idea.
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