Money 101

How to get an A+ in personal finance

Attending college or university is one of the best investments for your future that you can make. However, rising tuition costs can lead to a variety of financial issues for young students while they are in school. To help our future leaders avoid as much financial stress as possible, Consolidated Credit has compiled our best financial advice for college and university students.

The first step to financial health is budgeting. In this section, Budgeting 101, we will show you how to ensure that money problems don’t affect your ability to focus on studying.

Income assessment

For many students, income comes in a variety of forms. It may be a monthly stipend from parents, earnings from a part-time job, or financial aid. When figuring out how much money you have coming in each month, a lump sum financial aid payment should be divided into monthly units. Once you have this figure, you’ll be able to start making your budget.


If you are living with other individuals, figuring out your expenses can be a bit of a challenge. You may be splitting phone, cable, utility and Internet bills with a variety of people. Regardless, do your best to calculate your portion of these expenses each month. Additionally, your list of expenses needs to include everything that you spend money on whether its groceries, bus fare, bar tabs or books.

Budget and save

Making a budget as a student is essential to limit your debt load after graduation. If the bulk of your income is coming from financial aid, cutting down on your expenses will decrease the amount you will owe after you graduate. To help you save, check out the follow tips:

  • Credit card debt is not your friend: Most university students will encounter credit card companies on campus. Although the promise of “buy now, pay later” may sound good, falling into credit card debt is something to be avoided. Stick to your budget and live within your means.
  • Be a working student: Having a part time job serves three purposes. First, you’ll gain some experience that will improve your resume; and second, you’ll be able to earn some money to cover basic expenses. Lastly, it may even reduce the time available for money spending activities.
  •  Scholarships and used books: The only way to get a scholarship is to apply for it. Take some time each week to seek out scholarship opportunities. It doesn’t cost anything to apply, and you could end up getting thousands of dollars to put towards tuition. Another thing you can do to cut down on your education costs is to be proactive about finding used books. As soon as you know your schedule, start scouring the bookstore and Internet forums for used textbooks. A little legwork can save you hundreds of dollars.

  • More student loans aren’t always a good thing: Just because a bank offers you a certain amount of student loans doesn’t mean you have to take it. The more you borrow, the more you’ll have to pay back. Figure out a budget and calculate what you will need to live. There’s no reason to borrow more than you need.
  • Study hard: How do good study habits save you money? First, it’s cheaper to spend time in the library than it is to go downtown. And second, getting good marks in university will lead to more opportunities in the future, which often come with higher incomes.

After graduation: Staying on track financially

Budgeting during post-secondary studies is good practice for after graduation. The good habits you have learned during the previous four years will help you make the transition to real life. Here are a few more tips to help you along the way –

  • Know your student loan obligations: If you have received student loans from the government or a bank, you will have to start making payments soon after graduating. Be sure to contact your lender to know how much you owe and when you have to start making payments.
  • Find work…any work: Getting your dream job right after graduation is just that, a dream. You will probably have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity, your first priority should be to finding a steady source of income. Working hard and gaining experience will help you in the future.
  • Don’t be satisfied: As mentioned above, your first job is probably not going to be the perfect job – but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dream. Keep sending out resumes and looking for better opportunities. A successful job search involves being proactive and casting a wide net because you never know what company will see you as an attractive candidate.
  • Don’t forget to budget: You should never be without a budget. Just like you did while studying, calculate your income and expenses and make a financial plan. Hopefully, you’ll be able to cover your expenses, take care of your debt obligations and put a little bit away in a savings account.
  • It’s simple but it certainly not easy: Some of this advice may be easier said than done, and if you feel like your debts have gotten out of control, you need to take action. Reach out to a non-profit credit counselling service for the help you need to get back on your feet.

Consolidated Credit is here to help

If you have any further questions about budgeting or dealing with debt, Consolidated Credit is here to help you. You can contact us by calling 1-888-294-3130. Best of all, our advice is free!