Many grads recall their university or college years as some of the best of their lives. They may also remember them as the most expensive; funds can be scarily low when tuition, books, dorm rooms and meal plans must be paid for.
Money management is key during those years; students need to employ strategy to stretch their savings as far as possible. But those saving strategies shouldn’t go out the window once exams have finished and a steady paycheque is on the horizon. Here are five student financial tips that everyone should heed.
Cut Down On Swiping
Relying on your credit card is the easiest way to spend beyond your means. Students often learn this the hard way, wracking up thousands of dollars of credit card debt that, when combined with student loans, leave them floundering after graduation. According to recent research by TD Canada Trust, 31 per cent of students and recent grads wished they had been more responsible with their credit card while at school. Thirty eight per cent of Gen Y-ers report having debts from credit cards, lines of credit and loans.
To avoid making those freshmen flubs, use cash for as many purchases as you can. Know when your statement closes and pay off your credit card balance in full every month. Avoid having multiple credit card accounts.
Save — Even In Tiny Increments
“Every little bit counts” is a line often fed to students about scrimping and saving, but with 34 per cent of Gen Y-ers reporting that they find saving to be a huge struggle, this nugget of wisdom is true for everyone.
You might not be able to afford funneling $100 every week into a TFSA or RRSP, but you might be able to afford $15. Don’t avoid saving just because you can’t do so in large increments. Putting away that $15 every week is still $780 in annual savings — better than nothing.
Buying used isn’t just for students looking to save on textbooks. When it comes time to purchase a new piece of furniture, an appliance, a tech item, sporting goods, or clothing, consider whether you can get it secondhand. Peruse Craigslist and Kijiji for bikes and furniture, search eBay and visit your local Value Village for vintage clothing, and check out Habitat for Humanity ReStores for building or renovation supplies.
Find The Deals
When you’re a student, a quick flash of your I.D card is enough to net you discounts on anything from takeout food, to movie passes, to bank fees. That card may be expired but digging for deals is one saving strategy that everyone can employ. Choose to see a movie on a night where tickets are cheaper. Sign up for email lists with restaurants and retailers to receive coupons and birthday specials. Look for coupon codes when shopping online. Finding deals takes a little time but the accumulative savings are worth it.
Eat On The Cheap
No, you don’t have to eat ramen and canned tuna every night but just because you’re working full-time and earning an income, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to filet mignon and caviar. Grocery shopping and eating out can take a huge chunk out of your budget.
Take a page from the college student cookbook and try to incorporate cheaper staples such as rice, eggs, and lentils into your diet. Buy in bulk, choose a discount grocer over a high-end market, clip coupons and cook enough at dinnertime to have leftovers for the next day.