From classes and writing papers to forging new friendships and late-night exam cramming sessions, the start of a new school year is an exciting time for many Canadians. However, with a laundry list of new school supplies, textbooks, technologies, and clothing items in need of purchase every year – on top of tuition and housing costs – the price of higher learning can quickly add up. With a new school year underway, the question on many Canadians’ minds is – “how can I make the back-to-school season more affordable?”.
Well, with proper financial planning and some bold budgeting moves, you can keep your spending on track this school season. Here are a few helpful tips to help ease your financial stress this school year:
1. Start the new school year with a new budget (and stick to it!)
The start of a new school year marks the perfect time to develop healthy spending and saving habits, allowing you to alleviate some of the daily stress of student life. Take some time at the start of the school year to make a list of the supplies, books, tuition, and other expenses you can expect each month to help you create a budget, as that will give you a clearer picture of where your money is going instead of where it went. Obtaining a holistic picture of your spending needs versus your wants is an effective way to help you develop responsible spending habits that you can use throughout your education and beyond. Plus, if you play your cards right and budget effectively, you could save a little money to treat yourself on occasion. This way, you can make lasting memories outside the classroom too! Not sure where to start on your budgeting journey? Not a problem. Visit your local credit union and speak to a financial advisor to help you create a financial plan to save more money this academic year.
2. Swap out brand names for generic items
From backpacks and books to new laptops and other technological accessories, your back-to-school shopping bill might feel like it grows every year – while your bank account doesn’t. But don’t fret – while the cost of school supplies is higher than in previous years, there are still bargains you can take full advantage of if you know where to look. One big way to save is to give brand names the boot and go generic! By purchasing generic school supplies at Walmart or your local dollar store over a higher-priced retail store, you’ll be able to spend less without compromising on quality. So, if you need to stock up on pencils or pens to set yourself up for success this school year, skip the trip to the big box store and visit your local dollar store for the same products at a price your wallet will love too. Now that’s a win-win!
3. Get cooking (at home)
While dinner with friends at your favourite restaurant or indulging in your go-to Uber Eats order might be delicious and convenient, it can also be costly. By taking a quick trip to your neighbourhood grocery store, picking up fresh ingredients, and using an easy online recipe, you can save money and learn cooking skills you can use for years to come. Want to know the best part of cooking at home? The leftovers! Enjoy any leftover food for lunch over the next day or two, as this will make the time spent cooking even more worth it! If you live in a dorm and have a meal plan, utilize it as much as possible and avoid eating out. Minimizing your spending on outside food can help you keep more cash in your wallet and eat healthier too.
4. Find some incoming cash flow!
As the old adage goes, money doesn’t grow on trees. However, there are several options you can take advantage of to help you fund your post-secondary education. Many universities across Canada offer scholarships, awards, and bursaries you can apply for as long as you meet the requirements. By conducting a little research on your school’s website, you could uncover many scholarships you could qualify for and reduce the amount of money you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket to finance your education. Ultimately, putting in a little effort now could mean significant savings for you later.
While the potential to receive free money is all well and good, you may also want to consider getting a part-time job on or off campus as a reliable source of income to fund some of your expenses. Many colleges and universities have part-time opportunities available for students, so you can attend your classes, hang with your friends, and work a shift, all without having to leave the school grounds!
5. Brew your own cup of joe
Does your daily walk to class include a pit stop at your favourite coffee shop? The start of a new school year might be the perfect time to hit the pause button on that relationship. While buying your favourite cup of coffee might be tasty, a few bucks at your favourite coffee shop each day can add up over a school year. Now, you don’t have to give up on your daily coffee ritual – make it at home instead! Consider investing a little money on a quality coffee maker. It might cost you more money upfront, but you’ll save more in the long run by making the coffee you love right from the comfort of your dorm room. Bringing your coffee to class in a travel mug might not be as fancy as your go-to Starbucks order, but your wallet will thank you!
Step into the new school year on the right financial foot… become a credit union member
Credit unions are a great financial option to keep your finances on track all year round. Whether you need a student chequing account, a credit card, a student loan, or help building your budget for the school year, a financial advisor at your local credit union can help.