Financial Help for Students
Whether you’ve landed a part-time job or are looking into a student loan, money is a part of everyday life. Especially during back-to-school season, it’s important to start thinking about how to handle the money you’re making (or spending). Financial matters may seem complicated and intimidating—but if you’re looking into a post-secondary program (or have already begun to invest in one), understanding how to manage money is one of the most important things you’ll have to learn this year.
There are key steps you can take to make sure you’re truly getting your bang for your buck: consider the following tips the next time you’re headed to the bank.
Outline basic expenses.
What are you going to need, and when? Establish some weekly, monthly and annual expenses and see what you can do to stick by your budget. For example, if you’re living on your own, you’ll probably be spending roughly the same amount of money on groceries each week and will have to make monthly payments on rent. Make sure these recurring bases are covered before you put your cash towards something else.
Draw up lists – and make sure you’re specific. Set out to buy only what you’ve established you need first before you spend all your money on more “fun” things. It’s also a good idea to research before you shop. Are certain stores having sales you can take advantage of? Is a certain brand more expensive than another? Be informed about what you’re spending your money on and be prepared to justify expensive investments.
If you’re going out to eat one day, pack a lunch the next. If you don’t spend most of your wages one week, treat yourself with something special the next. You can have fun and be money-smart at once; it just requires a bit of calculated give and take. What’s most important is that you make sure you can afford what you’re spending. Consider looking into cheaper alternatives for the things you want if you can’t make room for them in your budget.
Make the decision to put aside a portion of your earnings every payday (for example, a third of every cheque can go into a savings account). Work around these savings—spend whatever you need to, but don’t touch the money you’ve set aside. It’s smart to reserve some cash for special occasions or emergencies because things happen. You never know when you’re going to need it.
When you’re doing financial planning, try these tips out—and as you go, incorporate some of your own strategies. Customize your student budget to suit your personal needs and get ready to reap the payoffs.