Saving money and budgeting for success

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Most students would agree that aside from the cost of textbooks, rent, and tuition, one's highest monthly spending is food.

Post-secondary education is expensive. Finances, including tuition, rent, weekly groceries, and daily coffee runs add to an already heavy load being managed by post-secondary students. The load is particularly heavy for first-year students, who are required to be more independent and self-sufficient than ever before, from living alone to cooking, to getting yourself from place to place. Being a student comes with a lot of responsibility. Being nose-deep in your textbooks is only one aspect of post-secondary life. Below are tips and tricks to help students manage their finances and relieve some of the stress and anxiety around this.

First, it is very important to develop a monthly budget. This is the key to staying on top of student finances. Budgeting helps to keep your spending on track and narrows impulsive and reckless spending, ultimately creating good spending practices and healthy long-term money management.

Secondly, determining the difference between needs vs. wants is another trick to managing your money in the long run. While it may appear to be a minor distinction, our ability to rationalize certain financial decisions is astounding. Saving money by purchasing what you require creates greater financial flexibility. For example, each class requires that you purchase a textbook full of expensive readings. You may want a fresh, new textbook, and although purchasing brand new textbooks from the school store might be convenient, it is not needed since many former students sell their once-loved textbooks at lower prices. Saving those extra dollars goes a long way, and once the book is read through, you can sell it to other students, too. It’s an exciting and sustainable cycle.

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Most students would agree that aside from the cost of textbooks, rent, and tuition, one’s highest monthly spending is food. While eating out is the most convenient option, it is also the most expensive. You can save a lot of money by limiting the number of times you dine out each month. Preparing meals at home can reduce monthly spending by 14 per cent a week.

TD Bank manager, Vivian Truong suggested being selective with your meal choices as a student.

“The best way to save money at school is to eat a lot of ramen,” she said.

Recently, TD Bank implemented a calculator tool to their app, designed by Laurier co-op students, to help post-secondary students manage their money, by budgeting and ultimately saving. Students have first-hand knowledge and experience with the difficulties of budgeting for school; there would be no one better to have made this platform. This simple five step process provides insight that enables a complete understanding of the cost of education.

“The goal was to create a versatile tool that worked for students regardless of their situation,” said Chris Halabecki, TD Bank’s lab leader. The tool breaks down expected costs and contributions, including loans, scholarships, and other exterior receivables. Furthermore, it provides averages as a guide for students unfamiliar with certain expenses, such as rent, entertainment, and groceries. To gain a more realistic view of their financial condition, students can also insert personalized items and amounts tailored to their needs.

Creating a budget may be easy but sticking to it is extremely challenging. Often, tweaks are necessary. However, sticking to a budget will ultimately allow you to go through the year with confidence, feel organized, and successfully manage your finances.