Books, tuition, meal plans, residence — university costs add up quickly. No wonder most Canadian students struggle with debt.
In fact, statistics show that the average student in Canada has at least $28,000 of debt by the time they graduate. Even working multiple jobs during your degree doesn’t guarantee a debt-free graduation.
If those numbers scare you, you’re not alone. The good news is that money-saving tips for college students can help minimize your debt and keep you financially stable.
Are you ready to become a financially savvy student? Read on to learn the best money-saving tips that you can use during your degree to take control of your finances.
Don’t Buy the Meal Plan
You’ve likely heard that meal plans are expensive. But do you know just how costly they are?
University meal plans for the 2021-2022 school year rang in between $6,000 and $7,000. Research shows that cooking from home can save you up to 80-90% of food costs. Depending on the cost of meal plans at your university, you could save over $20,000 by cooking at home over the course of your four-year degree.
Cooking at home may be a learning curve. However, eating at home will help you save money throughout your life, whether you want to get out of debt or avoid accumulating it.
Plus, you’ll be able to control portion sizes, choose healthy foods, and store leftovers. Staying away from those tempting meal hall buffet lines will keep you healthier, which will help you feel better all year.
Believe in Budgeting
We get it. You’ve heard lots of money-saving advice and tips about creating a budget. But with all the overwhelming costs of university, plus the craziness of a pandemic, it’s easy to wonder: can budgeting even make a difference?
The truth is that even if your income doesn’t cover your university costs, budgeting can still help you save money. Keeping track of your dollars and cents helps you stay aware of how much you’re spending. This cuts down on overspending and helps you feel confident about which purchases to make.
It’s easy to get discouraged when your student job doesn’t cover tuition. To stay motivated, we recommend setting achievable financial goals, like:
- Reducing your non-essential spending by 50, 75, or 100 percent
- Keeping food costs within your income
- Saving $10 per week for an emergency costs fund
Meeting these smaller goals will help you feel successful. This motivates you to keep budgeting.
Before you know it, you’ll form a lifelong habit for financial health!
The secret to successful budgeting is finding a budgeting tool that works for you. There are tons of apps and digital tools to make budgeting a breeze for you. If you’re a pen-and-paper person, though, feel free to go hard copy.
Do you love helping the planet and getting a great deal at the same time? If so, it’s time to dive into the wonderful world of second-hand shopping. Every purchase you make saves an item from a landfill, and you’re guaranteed to score incredible savings as well.
Are you new to second-hand shopping? Start by checking out:
- Your local thrift store
- Facebook Marketplace
- Bulletin boards around campus
Other students will be eager to sell their used textbooks, dorm furniture, and more. This can save you money on some of the biggest lifestyle costs of university life.
Sell Your Old Stuff, Too
When it’s time to go all Marie Kondo on your dorm room, don’t send it all to the thrift store. You can get back tons of money by reselling your old stuff. All it takes is a little know-how and patience.
List bigger items like furniture on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. Do you have clothes to sell? You’ll get the best price from a dedicated clothing app like Vinted or Poshmark.
Cut Down On Impulse Purchases
A sweet new pair of kicks. Glam new earrings. It’s human nature to want what we can’t have, but impulse purchases eat away at your hard-saved cash.
The best way to keep impulse spending at bay is to take a cooling-off period. If you see something that you have to have, wait one week. Put it in your calendar and check back in a week later.
A cooling-off period gives you a chance to consider if you really want to spend your money on the impulse item. By the time you return to it a week later, the impulse will be gone. You’ll likely find that it’s not worth the money after all.
If you fall into impulse purchasing, take control of your habit by avoiding temptation. If you can’t help but click “add to cart” whenever you scroll through your favourite brands, avoid online browsing. That way, you’ll never be tempted to overspend.
Decrease Your Data
Data is the most expensive part of any phone plan. Many “student” plans come with inflated data allowances. Having lots of data allows you to scroll through data-heavy apps wherever you are, but it also cuts deep into your budget.
Instead of the plan that lets you watch Tik Tok videos at the bus stop, find one with the basics. With Wifi virtually everywhere, you’ll hardly notice a difference. Only pay for the data that you need and watch your phone bill shrink.
Get the Digital Version of Your Textbook
If you can’t find a good used copy of your textbook, or you need the most recent edition, you still don’t have to buy the hardback version from the book store. Many textbooks are available as digital files at a fraction of the price.
Digital textbooks have a few downsides. They’re harder to access than a print book and you can’t resell them.
In addition, studies have shown that reading on a screen is harder than reading a printed book. You won’t absorb material from a digital book as easily as you will from a hard copy.
What’s the bottom line? Digital textbooks are a good way to save money on short textbooks. When it comes to the big ones that will stay with you throughout your degree, having a hard copy textbook is more practical.
Use Your Student Amenities
Do you know everything that’s included in your student fees? As a student, you’ll likely pay mandatory fees that get you access to campus services. These might include:
- Access to athletic facilities, such as the gym or pool
- A bus pass for your city’s public transit
- Counselling services
- Technology (usually available for loan through the library)
Since you can’t opt out of student fees, why not make use of the amenities that they get you? There’s no need to pay for another gym membership or purchase your own bus pass. Take some time to research your student amenities and find out how they can save you money.
Score Some Financial Aid
Contrary to popular belief, financial aid is out there, and it’s not just for students with a perfect transcript. In fact, many bursaries go unclaimed because no one applies for them!
You’ll find scholarships and bursaries to help students based on:
- Cultural background
- Extracurricular activities
- Your area of study
- Personal experiences
This means that even if you’re not a straight-A student, you have a chance of finding bursaries that are meant for you.
It’s easy to overlook “small” bursaries (like ones that offer less than $1,000). However, small amounts can add up to big savings. Plus, fewer people will apply for smaller bursaries, so there is less competition for them.
Check out your university’s financial aid page to start discovering bursaries, but don’t stop there. You’ll find lists online of additional bursaries you can apply for. If you want more help finding financial aid, talk to your university’s financial aid department for more tips.
Know Your Options
Even with the best-planned budget, the unexpected can happen. If you’re playing financial catch-up — or you just want to plan ahead — know your Canadian loan options.
Even if your credit rating isn’t perfect, you can find a loan to get you back on your feet.
Dodge Debt With Money-Saving Tips
Classes, exams, and a pandemic — you have enough to worry about in university without adding financial stress to the mix. Instead of overspending, keep your budget under control with these money-saving tips. They’ll defend you against debt and set you up for financial success.
Recovering from a financial hit doesn’t have to be hard. With 24 Cash, you can apply online and receive your loan the same day. Apply today — it takes less than five minutes!