If you’re a student heading back to school, money is undoubtedly on your mind. Tuition, textbooks, and living expenses add up quickly, but what about saving? To help ease the stress, here are a few tips from some of Canada’s smartest entrepreneurs and personal finance experts about staying on top of your finances when you’re a student.
Tip #1: Party frugally
Kyle Prevost of Young and Thrifty knows what he’s talking about—he co-wrote a book called More Money for Beer and Textbooks.
“Beer (or wine) is an acquired taste, so acquire a taste for cheap beer,” he says. “Who are you trying to impress with your worldly palate?”
Those campus pub nights can really add up. In Ontario, the cheapest bottle of beer is only $1.33 when you buy it in a 24-pack. Multiply that by the 6.4 drinks the Canadian Campus Survey says the average student consumes over a night out, and you could save enough money to buy next year’s pricey textbook.
Additionally, don’t feel the pressure to constantly go out. The college and university years offer constant opportunities to socialize and spend money, but don’t say yes to every outing. Instead, plan and budget for the nights that you want to go out and do something special. In the meantime, consider hosting a games night or inviting your friends to watch a movie at your place; these free alternatives to going out can save you a lot of money and serve as a great time to bond!
Tip #2: Build a mini-business that fits within your schedule
Ryan Shupak, co-founder of Jiffy, recommends working odd jobs when it’s convenient for your school schedule.
“With Jiffy, I really wanted to create something that would allow young entrepreneur to start their own mini-business (think snow removal, lawn maintenance, etc.) with the customer referrals, payment processing, and customer service ready to go,” he explains.
“Apps, economy-sharing, and on-demand services like ours are making it more convenient than ever to work around a hectic schedule.”
According to Shupak, you could earn up to $40 for doing an hour of yard work or $50 for shovelling a driveway. While school should always come first, it’s a good idea to think about a skill you have that could earn you extra money on the weekends.
Tip #3: Find an income stream purely for saving
Bridget Eastgaard, creator of the site Money After Graduation, weighs in with her tips on how to squirrel away cash while you’re still in school.
“I suggest finding an income stream for saving. For example, when I was in university I kept a tutoring gig where I charged $25 per hour to help first-year university students with chemistry,” she says.
“It didn’t seem like much at the time, but it was enough to seed a small mutual fund that grew to over $5,000 by the time I graduated!”
That $5,000 goal is actually easy to attain. If you charge $25/hour and tutor for two hours a week over the school year, that’s $4,800 in just four years. Right now the best savings accounts in Canada pay 2% interest—enough to push you a few hundred dollars over the $5,000 mark.
Tip #4: Get a part-time job
Robin Taub, author of A Parent’s Guide to Raising Money-Smart Kids, recommends an on-campus job.
“I recently interviewed a young man who worked his way through university. He worked lots of different jobs but his main gig was working as a cook and server at his school’s campus pub,” she explains.
“As a full-time student, he worked weekend and evening shifts, which were scheduled around his classes.”
At Western University, for example, the cost of residence adds up to more than $11,000 a year including meals. However, you can earn more than half that amount at Western working as residence advisor. Additionally, working a part-time job during school will help you develop valuable professional experience that can help you get hired after graduation!
Tip #5: Take part in the sharing economy
Cedric Mathieu, director of Turo Canada, has really simple advice: Let your assets do the work for you.
“I can’t think of a better way to earn extra income as a student than to jump in on the sharing economy,” he says.
“Capitalize on what you already own and start earning an income working only a few hours per month. This is easily done while you’re in school. Turo community members make an average of $600/month renting out their car to travellers. Other ways to earn extra cash in the sharing economy include: renting out your room, selling clothes you no longer wear, or even renting out a spare parking space.”
If you have a car, getting paid to let someone else use it when you’re not can help offset pricey campus parking costs. The average cost at Canada’s 10 most expensive schools is $718 for the school year, according to Maclean’s.
Tip #6: Turn a hobby into cash
If you’re creative and have a knack for crafts, Jen Knox of Etsy Canada suggests turning your hobby into an income stream.
“Turn your artistic hobby into a side business that fits in with your school schedule. Etsy connects you to a global marketplace where you can sell your handmade goods or coveted vintage finds to buyers all over the world,” she says.
“Etsy charges 3.5% on every sale and $0.20 per item listing. The rest of the money is yours to keep and do with it as you like.”
Let’s imagine it’s not a stretch to knit 25 pairs of mittens over the semester. If you sell them on Etsy for $25 each, that’s just under $600 that goes straight in your savings account. But remember, no knitting during class.
With these tips in mind, you can ease the financial stress of your school years and develop valuable professional skills that can impress an employer and help you land a job after graduation.
RateHub.ca is a website that compares mortgage rates, credit cards and deposit rates with the goal to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money.