Students have lots to learn, both in the classroom and out
There are few years more exciting than the student years. As a student, you take steps towards realizing your career dreams. This is the time of your life when you immerse yourself in education- both inside and outside of the classroom. And for many, it is the first time living on their own.
Running a household (even if it’s a household of one) means some serious planning ahead, especially if you are operating on a limited budget. It is an easy time of life to do this, however, because most students do not have mortgages or mouths to feed. It calls for creative saving and even more creative spending to really stretch those dollars further when venturing out on your own.
“The reality is that most students are required to carry debt in order to complete their education, “says Jeff Schwartz, executive director at Consolidated Credit Counseling Society of Canada. “The key is to avoid accumulating more debt through overspending on non-essentials or through a lack of budgeting. The last thing you want when you receive your diploma is a crushing amount of debt to go along with it.”
Remember how groceries magically appeared and bills were paid when you lived at your parents’ house? It wasn’t magic. It started with a comprehensive budget that includes income and detailed expenses. Create a spreadsheet with detailed line items that include food, transportation, parking and/or bus fare, rent, utilities, cable/internet/phone and, of course, entertainment. Knowing where your money is going is a critical part of maximizing that money.
Savings start at home
You may have heard of some extreme savings stunts by students, like one young man in the U.S. building a tiny, yet sustainable house and living off the grid while he goes to college. While this makes for great reality T.V., for those of us more accustomed to creature comforts, and fully intend to live on the grid, there are more reasonable ways to shave down on the monthly spending.
Feel free to use electricity and heat, but avoid extra costs. Turn the thermostat up a couple of degrees in the summer and vice versa in the winter. Avoid using appliances during peak energy use hours. Turn lights off when you leave a room.
Develop a saving attitude now, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success later in life, when your income ramps up. Make a point of scouring flyers and making your grocery lists from there. Shop with friends. Not only can you save money by buying in bulk and splitting the food, you can share transport costs as well. Get couponing and always use price match at the checkout. The smart shopper (i.e. the informed shopper) is the one who gets more bang for his or her buck.
Flash the card
You may associate the use of plastic with spending, not with savings, but in this case the opposite is true. Not until you are a Senior Citizen will you enjoy such perks of your age and stage in life; however, student discounts are available everywhere. The Studentsaver program and Student Price Cards (SPC) are good examples of student programs that offer cardholders deep discounts on a wide variety of retail items, services, food and travel.
Check with your student union for a full list of local programs and make sure you’re taking advantage.
Do you have a budget? Are you aware of how using debt can impact your financial future? Are you a student struggling to pay your expenses and are seeking a better strategy? Call one of our trained credit counsellors [PHONE _NUMBER] or check out our free online debt analysis tool to get started.