Tag Archives | budget

Five Of The Best Ways To Save For College On A Tight Budget

Image by Pictures of Money, Flickr

Image by Pictures of Money, Flickr

For those who want to further their education and establish their career, attending college is an important step to take after high school graduation. For many people, it can be challenging to save while on a tight budget, but here are five of the best ways to do so:

Cut Coupons

Not only is it important to avoid eating out to save money, but it’s also important to cut coupons to reduce your grocery bill each month. Get a copy of the newspaper each week to find coupons in the inserts, which can be used on name brand products. You can also pair the manufacturer coupon with a store coupon for additional savings. Coupon cutting isn’t shameful – why pay more for a product when you don’t have to?

Pay Yourself First

Make it a point to pay yourself first when you’re trying to save for college while on a budget. Set a goal on how much you want to save each month to avoid spending the money on luxuries or unnecessary purchases. Consider that money untouchable.

Open a Good Savings Account

Instead of saving your cash in a penny bank or under the mattress, open a good savings account for safe keeping and allow your money to grow at a faster rate. Consider opening a savings account at a credit union, which will allow you to avoid extra fees and penalties throughout the year that you’d otherwise be charged at larger financial institutions. Something like TruePartner Credit Union is a good place to start when looking for online banking options.

Tutor Other Students

Make extra money by earning cash on campus by offering tutoring services to your peers. This can allow you to have a flexible work schedule while keeping your mind sharp and practicing your communication skills with others.

Get Cash Back

Earn extra cash back by using a credit card on your purchases, which will allow you to earn money that can be used towards your college tuition. Many credit cards offer one to five percent cash back throughout the year on restaurants, grocery stores, or movie theaters for a great way to earn money that can be used towards your education – just remember to pay your bill each month.

It can be difficult to save money for college on a limited budget, but by avoiding unnecessary spending and finding creative ways to earn extra cash, it’s possible to pay for college in full and avoid getting into debt in the process.

This article was contributed by guest author Anita Ginsburg.

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Money Management for College Students

Image by luxstorm, pixabay.com

Image by luxstorm, pixabay.com

We all have experienced “being broke” in college. What with high expenses on textbooks and social activities and limited income, it’s unusual to find a college student who isn’t financially strapped in one way or another. While some things may not be in your control, managing your finances in an effective way may help you have a little extra cash to keep you sustained through periods of heavy spending. Here are four steps to help you get your finances in order:

1. Make a Budget

Budgeting is key to keeping track of your money. You always know where your money is going and how much you have left over in case of unplanned spending. Once you get the hang of it, budgeting becomes a natural habit, and is actually quite easy. First, make a note of all your current spending for a fixed duration, say, a month. This will help you determine your usual spending habits. After you have determined your spending patterns, compare your expenses to your income, and note down areas where you can cut down spending.

Budgeting apps like Mint are extremely helpful when it comes to being able to access your budget anytime. Remember to always allocate an amount for miscellaneous expenses that don’t fit into your regular spending. Whether you use this amount is immaterial; if you experience a period of necessary high spending (say, buying new textbooks), this amount will come in handy.

2. Have Goals

Having a goal will motivate you to stick to your budget. It will prevent you from randomly spending on unnecessary things. Set aside a small amount of your paycheck/allowance each month to go towards fulfilling this goal. At first, you won’t enjoy setting aside money that could be used elsewhere, but after a while your funds will start building up, and you will begin to appreciate the little bank you’ve created to meet your goals.

3. Save where you can

Opening a savings account in college is a wise investment. Over time, the money in your savings account will accumulate and earn interest. In any particular month, if you spend less than your budgeted amount, be sure to put the remainder of your money into your savings account rather than binge-splurging. You’ll see more growth in your savings account over time. Other ways to save include making changes in your daily habits. For example, if you spend a lot of money on your car, consider learning some auto-hacks, such as gas savings or using the bus more often. Take packed lunches to class rather than buying food, and make your own coffee in the morning before class rather than grabbing one at a coffee shop. At first it doesn’t seem like much, but these changes in your daily routine do add up!

To increase your savings, you can also consider various ways to gain supplemental income. Today, we live in an age of constant connectivity, meaning that you can work from practically anywhere. According to this infographic, 61% of American homes had wifi in 2012. Since then, the number has only gone up, creating more opportunities for online work. As a student, you could tutor online, write for paid blogs and magazines, and even do surveys to boost your income. These are opportunities that don’t require you to travel far, and won’t take up much of your time – but will get you some quick cash.

4. Plan for the long term

It’s always good to keep the bigger picture in mind. Even as a student, it’s important to consider the future at some level, though it doesn’t have to be your top priority. Long-term planning includes having a savings account, a retirement and pension plan, and long term insurance. For example, if you know you would like to retire abroad, it is vital to factor this into your goals after college, as research shows that retiring abroad can be quite costly. When following through with the required actions to achieve your goals, you’ll want to keep this in mind. As a college student, you may not be in a position to actively plan for the future, but it is good practice to make a timeline that incorporates the long term, such as paying off debts or when you will start saving for retirement. This way, you will be well-prepared for the future. Even though long term planning can be tedious, it will hold you in good stead through the years.

Using the four basic principles of budgeting, goals, saving and long term planning, you can start to get your finances in order. Even though you won’t have much money to deal with as a college student, understanding and utilizing these concepts will help you both now and later.

This article was contributed by guest author Akshata Mehta.

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Slick Tips for Saving Money during Your College Years

Image by 401(K) 2012, Flickr

Image by 401(K) 2012, Flickr

The cost of college may represent one of the single most expensive investments in your life. However, that investment may pay out large dividends when used correctly. There are also several side expenses associated with college such as entertainment and meals that are often overlooked. Here are a few slick tips that can stretch those dollars, and help you avoid the headache of a draining bank account.

Stretch Those Meals
Many college students are on a combination of meal plans and budgets for cooked meals. You can save a considerable amount by making note of available meal plans versus cooking on your own. Staying in a dorm limits the type of food you can prepare due to restrictions on hot plates and other devices. However, you can often adjust meal plans to suit your needs in your room and board. Extend these services by reducing the cost of extras such as brewing your own coffee, or using a water filter to have fresh water.

Be sure to combine the collective costs of groceries with roommates as well. Putting meals “all in the pot”, and using money saving devices such as crock pot cookers, can save considerably on overall meal costs.

Consolidate Luxury Expenses
There are extra vices in college that come along with hidden costs. Some of the most expensive extras are going out to eat, and items such as cigarettes. Consolidating meals into groups, and using gadgets like online study tools reduce your overall costs substantially. Save even more with coupon codes for discountrue.com where you can find deals on many different kinds of items.

Tap into Career Centers
A great deal of the effort in college is preparation for using your degree for employment or advancement. Most colleges offer substantial free career planning resources. These career resource centers are also a hub for on campus jobs. The best way to save money in the long run, is to find on campus jobs that tie into your chosen major.

The added benefit is a perk on your resume, and reduced costs from career search programs after college. These resource centers provide you everything from resume critiques to mock interviews and can help you get a good head start for the future.

Libraries Are Your Best Friend
Public and university libraries provide a wealth of free resources that can save you money. Professors often put textbooks on reserve and scanned copies may be available on request. Check into these copies prior to class registration. Some professors have different book requirements, and a slightly older edition may be compatible as well.

A library can also provide free tunes and videos for your entertainment needs. Large libraries may also offer streaming services and e-books for tablet devices for free.

Navigating college requires dedication in both academics and finance. Most of the free resources found here are expanding rapidly and may dramatically reduce the cost of a traditional college experience. Some of the hidden expenses of entertainment can add up quickly and these tips are a surefire way to beat those costs.

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

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Three Ways To Travel Cheaply and Easily

Image by Miquel González Page, Flickr

Image by Miquel González Page, Flickr

Bonjour! I am currently spending the semester studying abroad in Paris, France. Four months in, and it is undoubtedly one of the best experiences I have ever had. If you go on exchange, you probably want to travel as well but don’t want to break the bank. So, here are a few tips to travel cheaply and easily:

Act Fast!

Some people say the best time to book a plane ticket is on the weekend. Others say the best time to book is on a Tuesday. The truth is, the best time to book is as soon as possible! My favourite website is Skyscanner. They include flights from big to budget airlines, always resulting in the best deals. Since the website simply redirects you to the actual airline’s website, there’s no chance that you’re being scammed.

There are awesome features you should look into. First, check out the “Map” option, which allows you to choose a destination and then see a graph of the different prices on different days. The other option is the “Everywhere” destination. Instead of typing in an actual city, simply type in “Everywhere” and Skyscanner will show you the cheapest destinations based on your desired dates.

Hotels or Hostels?

Hotels are always going to be the best option in terms of your peace of mind. Since you don’t have to share the room with strangers and your room is going to be stocked with amenities, there’s no need to worry about a lot of things in hotels. If you stay at a hostel, you’ll need to remember to bring a lot of things such as sandals to shower with, a towel, some soap and a lock for your bags. However, what hostels may lack in safety, cleanliness and amenities, they make up for in character and price. Hostels have a great vibe where you can meet fellow travellers or grab a cheap beer if they have a bar – and don’t forget about the huge savings!

Sacrifices Need to be Made

That 7AM flight to your next destination is $15 cheaper than the one that leaves at 11AM, which means you arrive at your destination earlier and you save money, right? Wrong! Well, you do arrive at your destination earlier, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll save money. You have to keep in mind that you need to somehow get to the airport well before 7AM. A lot of public transportation won’t run that early, so you may end up paying crazy prices for a cab first thing in the morning.

The same kind of situation can occur when you buy a ticket from a budget airline or train that doesn’t land at the city’s main airport or train station. These other airports and train stations are often far from the city centre. Although you save money getting near the city, you still need to find a way to get into the city.

Another example is when you choose where you want to stay. You may save money by staying at a hostel just outside of the city, but getting to and from your hostel can be a pain. It is even worse if you miss the last train or bus back to your hostel!

All in all, budget travelling requires a lot of research and planning. However, if you’re really desperate to get out, do look into last minute deals, especially with trains that want to sell extra seats. Just remember to relax and have a great time!

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3 Ways to Save Money at School

Saving Money Image by Scott Waldron, Flickr

Image by Scott Waldron, Flickr

School can be expensive — and that’s not even counting tuition. I found myself blowing away a lot of money during my first year of university on things that I could have easily saved an extra few bucks on, which (believe me), adds up. I spent excessively partly due to the nature of post-secondary education and my own circumstances— which meant textbooks, commuting, and buying food. Despite needing to spend a lot more than when I was in high school, I decided to cut back after my first year of university ended. For those of you who are about to go to college or university, or are spending way too much in school, here are some tips for saving money:

  1. Make or Bring Your Own Food

  2. Sure, the five dollar price tag on that Tim Horton’s sandwich may not sound like much, but get it five days a week and you’re out 25 bucks. Monthly, this would cost $100 dollars, and $300+ for a school term. Instead of buying food on campus, try preparing your own food and bringing it from home. In a similar vein, avoid buying coffee. Try making it at home and bringing it in a travel mug.

  3. Make Some Changes to Your Commute

  4. Using public transportation can add up. For example, a one-way Toronto transit fare is $3 – pile on another $3 for a return trip and you’re at $6, totalling $30 for a full week of classes and $120 for a month’s worth. If you live reasonably close and the weather is nice, try walking or cycling to class instead. For those of you who have no choice but to take the bus or subway, consider investing in a Post-Secondary Student Metropass if you have regular classes — it costs $99 and requires photo identification to be taken. More details can be found on the TTC website. Monthly passes are also tax-deductible, so that might help you save a bit more too. If you drive to campus, compare your parking and gas costs with those of public transportation to see which one has larger savings for your wallet.

  5. Scour the Internet (and Other Places) for Discounts

  6. This one is fairly evident. According to stats quoted by the Globe and Mail, the average Canadian postsecondary student spends about $500 to $1,000 on textbooks and course materials each semester. That’s a hefty amount, which is why there are many other ways to acquire textbooks. Search for places to trade or buy used textbooks, such as Toronto University Student’s Book Exchange, or Rye Books. Other options are even more general classified ad sites such as Craigslist or Kijiji. Try keeping an eye and ear out for potential sales or trades on your campus as well.

    Do you have more money-saving tips? Tweet us @StudentsDotOrg!

Be Smart With Your Money: Budget for Student Life

Image by photosteve101 on Flickr

Image by photosteve101 on Flickr

With tuition, transportation and housing costs increasing each year, now, more than ever, is budgeting important. The Canadian Federation of Students estimates that a recent graduate can expect to be $27,000 in debt after graduating. Whether you’re in first or fourth year, it never hurts to be smart with your money. These skills will be extremely important in the future. Here is a template to help get you started on a more financially sound future:

Step 1: Calculate Your Income

Amount

Scholarship/Bursaries
Salary/Wages
Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
Student Loans
Family Contributions
Gifts
Other
Total yearly income

Step 2: Calculate Your Expenses

Education 

Amount per year

Tuition
School Fees Not Included in Tuition (i.e. athletics, library, counselling)
Textbooks and Course Materials
Other Educational Expenses (i.e. supplies, associated course fees)
Housing 

Amount per month

Amount per year

Rent/Mortgage
Other Housing Costs (i.e. property taxes, property insurance, maintenance costs, condo fees)
Utilities (hydro, gas, electricity)
Telephone/Cellphone
Cable
Internet
Food 

Amount per month

Amount per year

Groceries
Meal Plan
Transportation 

Amount per month

Amount per year

Public Transit
Parking
Gas
Car Payments
Insurance
Licence/Registration
Service/Repairs
Lifestyle 

Amount per month

Amount per year

Shopping (i.e. laptop, clothes, gifts)
Entertainment
Travel
Other (i.e. grooming, dry cleaning)
Health

Amount per month

Amount per year

Health/Dental Insurance (if not already covered by parents or included in tuition)
Uninsured health services (i.e. prescriptions, medical/dental procedures)
Loans

Amount per month

Amount per year

Private loan monthly interest  payment
Total yearly expense

Step 3: Calculate Difference

Total yearly income – Total yearly expenses = Cash Flow

If you have a positive number: Congratulations! You’re off to a great start to a debt-free future. However, be careful if a lot of your income comes from loans. You will have to pay these off after graduation, so try to keep how much you borrow to a minimum.

If you have a negative number: Don’t worry. This happens to everybody! Find ways to cut spending on unnecessary expenses. Look for cheap alternatives on everyday expenses to save money. Browse students.org for articles on how to find scholarships, how to entertain yourself on a budget and many more money saving tips.

Download our Student Budget Calculator so you can keep it on hand to fill out!

Also, be sure to check out other templates online such as the ones made by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada or RBC that helped inspire this one. Good luck!

5 Ways to Have Fun on a Budget

Image by Ezu, Flickr

Image by Ezu, Flickr

Having fun isn’t as simple as it used to be. With tuition, textbooks and rent, the typical university student is strapped for cash. This can make it very difficult to afford decent entertainment. Here are some ways to prevent the boredom, while saving some money:

  • Support your school. From cheering on your school’s football team at a home game or attending a school play, there is a lot of things for you to do in and around your campus. Most of these school events are free while others usually cost less than $10. Check out posters around your campus for upcoming events.
  • Discover free events around your city. Free events pop up all the time around every city. Be sure to experience your city’s festivals and parades. Bookstores and coffee shops often have free book/poetry readings and live music. Check out your city’s website or local newspaper for a whole list of upcoming events.
  • Cash in on local deals. On Tuesdays, you can watch a movie at a theater for half the price. Also, some museums and art galleries let you in for free or at a discounted rate during specific times. Getting rush tickets are great for impromptu nights out with friends.
  • Take advantage of free public spaces. Spend the day having a picnic in the park or hike through the woods. During winter, your nearby pond or fountain is probably going to be turned into a free ice skating rink. Instead of paying for movies, visit the library and borrow from their collection. Some cities even have free movie nights in the park.
  • Use coupons and discount cards. Being a student gives you access to a lot of deals. Get in touch with your school’s student union and see what fun deals they have to offer. Don’t forget to look through websites like Groupon for some great local deals. Sometimes you can find laser tag and bowling games or even tickets to your favourite artist’s concert for insanely cheap prices.