Tag Archives | saving

10 Best Tips to Manage Your Finances

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

College is an exciting time, but financially, it can be difficult to stay responsible. Living on campus means spending money on food, beverages and nights out with your friends, which can be problematic if you’re trying to save up money for your post-grad years. However, it’s very possible to not only manage your finances responsibly in college, but also to save up money for the future. Here are ten essential money-saving tips for college students:

1. Find the Right Bank for You
It’s important to find a bank that suits your student financial situation. Look for banks that offer student accounts that reimburse you for out-of-network ATM fees or have low minimum daily balance requirements, or open an account with a bank that has ATMs near your campus.

2. Use Mobile Banking
It’s much easier to be responsible with your money when your account balances and statements are just a click away. Be sure to download your bank’s mobile app (nearly all banks have one,) and check your balances frequently.

3. Build Credit Responsibly
Building credit is essential to secure loans if you need them later in life, so use your credit card as much as possible. At the same time, be sure to monitor your card balances carefully; overcharging your card or being late on payments can seriously hurt your credit.

4. Don’t Overspend on Books
Many campus bookstores charge higher than the market price for textbooks, so a good way to save money is to get your books elsewhere. Online retailers like Amazon usually offer books for lower prices, or you can be especially thrifty and buy used textbooks on eBay or similar sites

5. Eat Free
One of the best ways to save money is to take advantage of any food you can get free or discounted as a student. Know your school’s meal plan; if it’s free to eat at the school cafeteria, eat there most days and limit money spent on restaurants or take-out. When you do go out, look for local businesses that offer student discounts, and also keep an eye out for student events that offer free meals.

6. Keep a Strict Budget
Even if you think you’re financially responsible, there’s no reason not to make a budget. Track all expenses on your smartphone and set goals for your weekly or monthly spending. Identifying what you spend the most on can help you reduce your overall spending.

7. Use the Envelope System
The ‘Envelope system’ is a method of setting a budget for the week and placing the money you’ll allow yourself for different expenses in marked envelopes. Calculate how much you’ll need each week on gas, food, etc., label each envelope, and if an envelope runs out, don’t spend more in that category until the next week.

8. Apply for a Job On-Campus
Even if you aren’t receiving financial aid, there are often employment opportunities right on campus. Contact your school’s student employment office to see what jobs may be available to earn yourself some regular income, but do it as soon as the semester starts; many campus positions fill up quickly.

9. Avoid Unnecessary Fees
You’d be surprised at how much money you can save just by avoiding any fees. Avoid ATM fees, for example, by starting an account with a local bank, or find the nearest ATM for your current bank and use it exclusively. You’ll also want to pay off credit card balances or other bills promptly to avoid late fees.

10. Don’t Drive
If you have a car on campus, you’ll want to drive it as little as possible to avoid spending extra on gas. If your college has a ride-sharing option, or rental options such as ZipCars, take advantage of it, or use public transportation in your area if available.

This article was contributed by guest author Hayden Sewart.

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12 Financial Tips for Young Adults

Image by rawpixel.com, via unsplash.com

There are a lot of factors affecting the financial status of young adults. Those who are disciplined and are able to use money wisely end up saving more. They also prepare better for their future. On the other hand, those who have not really thought about how to properly spend their money end up being broke. They also don’t have a stable job.

To begin, it is important to decide which state you should work in, and what kind of job to run after. Regardless of the amount that you are earning, you have to see to it that you are using it for the right purpose. You should also be careful not to spend whatever you earn for things you don’t necessarily need.

After graduating from college, your priority must be to pay off your student loans. It is important that you focus on this debt since it could be a burden for the rest of your life. You must also learn to determine what your priorities are. Never start a family unless you already have a stable job and you feel like you are finally ready to settle down.

Being a young professional isn’t easy, for several reasons. This is why you need to be extra careful with how you make use of your income and ensure you’re not wasting it. For more information on how to save money in the future, check the infographic below. Don’t let days go by without saving enough money for a brighter future.

12 Financial Tips For Independent Young Adults

This article was contributed by guest author Marina Robertson.

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College Fund: How Students Can Save Money for Higher Education

Image by StockUnlimited.com

We all remember when we were children, and how exciting it was to find a quarter on the sidewalk, a monetary gift from the tooth fairy, or just pick up a few extra dollars doing chores. But how many of us are still paying off student loans, and wish we could have started saving for higher education back in the day when quarters and wrinkled dollar bills seemed like big money? How can students learn to save while in high school and when applying to college afterward?

Start Young
Parents should teach children to save money for their future. However, parents can only do so much – the individual must learn how to do this for themselves. One way to make this more accessible is to turn saving money into a game. Now that you’re older, challenge yourself to set aside some amount of money — spare change or money from working part time in high school and before college. Use a ledger to help keep track of your funds. Having a written record of your savings helps put it all into perspective when it’s right in front of you. Also, taking the time to write down deposits into your savings account will help you have a greater appreciation for your money and what you’re saving for.

Dreams and Education
What do you want to do? Become a veterinarian? Game designer? Become a mechanic or musician? Browse college and technical school websites to investigate different programs and classes that are offered by schools you’re interested in attending. This will help you see how your education will help you reach those goals — and just how much that education will cost. This will help put it all into perspective and connect the process of saving and applying to schools that you’re interested in attending.

Advanced Degree, More Saving
According to FinAid.org, if parents begin saving in a fund that gives at least 5% interest, over 17 years they can accrue almost $35,000 — nearly enough for the average MBA — just by putting aside $25 a week from birth. Whether you plan to get an online master’s degree in public administration or an MFA from a top liberal arts university, saving for an advanced degree such as a master’s takes particularly careful planning. If you’re old enough to know if you want to pursue a master’s degree, and old enough to get an after-school job, you’re old enough to help contribute to those savings your parents have started for you.

Don’t Count on Financial Aid
Even if a student is eligible for financial aid, they could be picked for verification or experience some other delay in receiving their award. Thousands of students every year find themselves having to pay out of pocket to secure their classes until their financial aid comes through. As you get older, understand that it is important to not only complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), but to have funds to pay for your tuition just in case financial aid is delayed or denied.

Students can help themselves learn the principles of going without to be able to save for their future to make it that much brighter and more accessible.

This article was contributed by guest author Rachelle Wilber.

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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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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.

The Hunt for Deals: Student Laptops

Image by CollegeDegrees360, Flickr

Image by CollegeDegrees360, Flickr

Congratulations on finding your laptop for school! Now, it’s time for you to buy it. Here are some helpful tips on buying your laptop, without breaking the bank:

  • Take advantage of student pricing and back-to-school deals. Apple offers student discounts and a $100 app store gift card. Microsoft, HP and Dell gave out Xbox 360s with the purchase of a laptop over $699 during back-to-school season last year. Keep an eye on what deals they have this year. Computer stores always have some great deals around July and August.
  • Price match. Look through store websites and flyers for a really cheap price for your laptop. If you can find one, stores like Best Buy and Future Shop will match the price and give you an extra 10% discount.
  • Bargain. It never hurts to ask a salesperson for a better deal. If they can’t change the price, they might be able to throw in some free warranty or accessories instead.
  • Consider refurbished. Refurbished laptops are a great deal, but be careful. See if you can try it out before buying it and know the return policy in case it doesn’t work out.
  • The Internet is your friend. Some people have been very lucky, finding amazing deals on sites like Ebay, Craigslist and Kijiji.

Before you buy, make absolutely sure the laptop is for you. Go to a store and try it out. Pick it up, try typing a few sentences and press all the buttons to get a good feel for the device. And, make sure you like how it looks. This is going to be your ultimate productivity machine for the next few years, so make sure it’s right for you. Good luck!