The holidays are over, last semester’s exams are but a distant memory, and it’s time to start fresh on the second half of your academic year. But are funds a bit tight from student money mistakes made in the first round? Here are three common finance pitfalls for campus dwellers, and how you can avoid them this semester.
1) Your Meal Plan Evaporated a Month Before the End of December.
I’m a big guy. An $8.00 salad and 10 pieces of sushi aren’t enough daily fuel for me. The combination of a robust appetite and the sky-high food prices that are the norm on most campuses can quickly wreak havoc on your meal plan. If you live on campus, buying enough groceries to brown bag your lunch everyday can be a real pain. Here are a few tips if you want to stretch your meal plan:
– Either drink tap water or buy your preferred beverage in bulk from Costco or Superstore.
– Eat breakfast at home – cereal, fruit, and granola bars are easy to store.
– Your coffee should be a cheap caffeine fix, not a ridiculous $5.00 status symbol.
– Ask around and find out where the best daily specials are for each day of the week.
Psst: Need some extra cash? We’re giving away a $2,500 scholarship! All those enrolled in Canadian post secondary schools are eligible for the cash prize – check out our interactive Budget Report Card to enter!
2) You Spent Your Student Loan Cash Before Halloween
Your parents never talked to you about money and you certainly didn’t learn anything about it in school (that stuff was too useful to be included in any curriculum). You never had a job that paid more than minimum wage and your bank account balance was never more than a couple thousand bucks at most. Then one day you took out some cash at an ATM and did a double take at the how rich you had suddenly become. And society expects you to make good/informed decisions with your student loans at this point? Seriously?!
The art of blowing student loan money has been finely honed by several generations of young people. You aren’t the first and you won’t be the last student to celebrate getting your loan money by playing at being a high roller at the bar later that night. Despite what you might believe however, odds are you will live past the age of 25 and consequently, you will need to pay that money back at some point. More importantly to most of you young’ns, you want to be able to afford to see the odd Tuesday afternoon matinee or McDonald’s meal deal the last half of the semester, so it’s somewhat important to understand that the idea of budgeting doesn’t have to intimidating, complicated, and only for boring money geeks.
Having a basic understanding of how you want to spend your earnings and loan cash over the course of a semester doesn’t take long and it will likely help you avoid a lot of awkward social situations where you can’t take part in an activity because you’re broke. Looking at where you currently spend your money and deciding if that aligns with how you would get the most enjoyment out of it is basically 90 per cent of budgeting. That doesn’t seem so hard right? It’s got to be easier than coming up with an essay at two a.m.
3) Your Beer Money Turned Into Beer Debt
“Since beer is an acquired taste, you might as well acquire a taste for cheap beer.” – Forrest Griffin, UFC Fighter and all-around badass.
Stop trying to impress your hipster friends by showing how worldly you are with your beer or spirits selection. It’s all some combination of hops, barley, yeast, and water – your newest six-pack isn’t the mythical ambrosia you’re reading about in Classics 101, it’s some version of the same stuff humans have been making since we started recording history. I could simply advise you to cut down on your alcohol consumption, but let’s be honest – the New Year’s resolutions are set to die just about any day now and reality will start to kick in again. Don’t go into debt by trying to get fancy, instead embrace the ultra-cheap domestic beers that students everywhere have developed a taste for, or try your hand at making your own sudsy goodness.