It’s no secret that post-secondary education can drain your wallet.
Expenses on textbooks, transportation and food can add up and become overwhelming – especially if you don’t know how to properly manage your money. Heading back to school or starting your first year in college or university can be stressful in itself, so why have the added pressure of worrying about money?
To help you ease your anxieties about how to effectively pay for things and still have money for fun activities, take a look at these five tips to help you manage your money while in school.
Set a Realistic Budget
Take into account all the income you receive on a monthly basis, whether it’s from your job, scholarship, or OSAP. Based on this income, create a spreadsheet of monthly expenses and include items that are necessities such as textbooks, course materials, transportation, food, rent, and utilities. In addition, include an area for savings and miscellaneous spending which will be money that you will have left over after you pay for your monthly necessities.
Use your discretion when creating your budget. While it can be trickier to plan financially while in school because of your irregular income, just remember — a budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
Track your Budget on a Monthly Basis
Try to stick to your budget as much as possible throughout the school year. Ensure that you monitor and track what you are spending on a monthly basis by writing it down in a spreadsheet or a journal.
Most importantly, pay attention to extra spending. This can include buying shoes you don’t really need or taking out cash from an ATM. Be aware of where your money is going and adjust it as needed. During certain months, you may realize you have additional spending money while in others you may have to be more frugal.
Look for Ways to Cut Down on Expenses
While in school, it’s important to have a needs versus a wants mentality. Yes, you may want the new iPhone everyone is talking about, but do you really need it? This may not be an easy decision, but it will definitely put you at an advantage.
Look for ways to cut down on your expenses. Avoid eating out more than necessary. If you need coffee in your life, make your own instead of buying one from Starbucks. Cut back on cell phone features if you can live without them. Buy used books instead of brand new ones. And if you can walk to places, do so instead of paying for transportation. These tips may seem insignificant, but in the long run they will prove to be big money savers.
Work on Campus
If you aim to work during your studies, try to find employment on campus. An added perk is the lack of commute! You can walk to work instead of hopping on a bus, streetcar, train, or driving. It’ll also significantly cut down on your transportation costs.
Avoid using credit cards
It is tempting to put everything on a credit card and forget about it. Dealing with high interest rates when you have an irregular income can be quite a struggle. Make a habit of using your credit card for emergencies and if absolutely necessary, monthly expenses. And when you do — make sure it’s in an amount you can actually pay off!
It can be complicated to figure out where your money is going. Proper budgeting can help you cut back, save money and perfect the smart usage of a credit card. Moreover, you will be building healthy financial habits that will help you out all the way to retirement. You’ll thank yourself in the future!