Going back to school is expensive no matter what grade or level of education you’re at but nothing compares to the costs associated with attending University or College. As September approaches, it’s a good time to start planning and budgeting for the year ahead. Here are some of our tips to help students save money when the new semester rolls around:
Cook (or Learn How if you Don’t Already Know)
Students are constantly busy. Finding time to eat (let alone to prepare) a proper meal can be difficult to manage in between going to class, studying and trying to fit in a social life. So while it’s understandable why so many students opt for take out over a home cooked meal, it’s absolutely brutal on the wallet in the long term.
That doesn’t mean you should never get fast food. It just means you need to strike a balance. Give yourself one day a week to buy takeout. Whether that means swinging by the McDonald’s drive thru on the way home or stopping at a sit down restaurant with friends, it’s important not to totally deprive yourself.
That being said, you should do your best to make all your own meals during the rest of the week. They don’t have to be fancy, either. There’s nothing wrong with an egg salad sandwich. The more often you’re able to cook your own food, the cheaper it will be for you. Depending on how much food you cook, you’ll also have leftovers for the next day (so you get two meals in one).
Buy a Kettle/Coffee Maker and a Good Thermos
Caffeine is absolutely vital for most students. The thought of an 8 AM lecture without a steaming cup of coffee or tea in hand can be downright inconceivable. But the cost of those beverages add up.
If the average price for a cup of coffee or tea is $2 and you have two every day, that’s $28 dollars a week. Now imagine how that adds up over the rest of the school year! It’s definitely worth considering buying yourself a coffee maker and/or kettle and a really good thermos or portable coffee cup. Some coffee places even offer you a discount on your drink if you bring your own mug! You can cut your coffee and tea expenditures down significantly by bringing your own home brewed beverage in the morning and only paying the (discounted) price for your refill later in the day.
Learning how to create and stick to a budget is one of the most important things you can do. It’s incredibly helpful in all stages of life but especially when you’re a student. Make sure you know exactly how much money you have access to each month, deduct any fees you’ll have to pay (rent, textbooks, transportation, groceries, interest payments on your student line of credit, etc) and then consider dividing what’s left into three categories: fun money/fast food money, emergency money, extra/savings.
Don’t let yourself spend more money than you actually have available! If you’re concerned about going over your budget, put your credit cards away and try to use cash as often as possible. It’s must easier to keep track of exactly how much money you have available if it’s tangible and not just some distant figure in your bank account.
Look for Student Discounts
Most post secondary institutions offer student discounts on a variety of things. Whether you’re interested in cheaper movie tickets, discounted (or free) public transit access, or even just coupons to local restaurants, it’s definitely worth checking your school’s website and/or student union to see what offers they have available for you.
Many attractions/museums will also offer a student rate so make sure to always have your student ID card on you.
Need some extra help with your finances? Apply online here.