New Year, New Semester: 5 ways to keep your student budget on track

New Year, New Semester: 5 ways to keep your student budget on track

With the holiday season in the rearview and a new year in full swing, a new school semester is upon us. Time to trade skiing on the slopes or watching Netflix in bed for class lectures and assignments!

From attending a new set of courses to cultivating new friendships and strengthening old ones, a new school semester is an exciting time for many Canadians. However, the joys of higher learning can come with a hefty price tag, which is felt even more after a pricey holiday season. As we ring in the new year and students prepare to re-enter the school halls, the question on many Canadians’ minds is – “how can I make this semester more affordable?”

With the right financial planning and some savvy-saver moves, you can keep your spending on track. Here are a few helpful tips to consider:

1. Start the new year with a new school budget (and stick to it!)
The start of a new school semester marks the perfect chance to reflect on your current financial situation,so you can start building healthy spending and saving habits to ease the daily stress of student life.

As we enter a new semester, take some time to make a list of the supplies, books, tuition, and other expenses you can expect each month to help you create a budget that willlet you know where your money is going instead of where it went. Taking the time to evaluate your spending needs versus your wants, will help you build responsible spending behaviours. Plus, by developing positive financial habits early into the year and budgeting effectively, you could save a little money to treat yourself every so often. This way, you can have memorable experiences outside the classroom too! Need help kick starting your budgeting journey? A financial advisor at your local credit union can help you create a financial plan to help you save more this semester and all year round.

2. Make Coupons Your BFF
From backpacks to new laptops, tackling your school shopping list might seem more daunting each year. Not to worry, start the new year off right by taking advantage of discount offers on coupon sites to help you keep more cash in your wallet. Check out sites such as Smart Canucks or Rakuten Canada for great offers on school clothing and discount codes you can take advantage of at your favourite clothing stores, both in-store and online. This way, you can freshen up your wardrobe for the new school semester without breaking the bank! Now, if you have a smartphone, download Flipp for instant access to thousands of digital flyers and coupons and take advantage of the best deals to save even more on school supplies and electronics.

3. Get cooking (at home)
While dinners out with friends or ordering takeout on Uber Eats might be tasty and convenient, it can also be quite expensive. Consider taking a quick trip to your local grocery store, picking up fresh ingredients, and using an easy online recipe tohelp you save money and learn cooking skills you can use for future years. What’s the best part of cooking at home? The leftovers! Enjoy any leftover food as a ready-madelunch option over the next day or two. This will make the time spent cooking even more worth it! If you live in a dorm and have a meal plan, make one of your new year resolutions to eat more of your meals in your school cafeteria and avoid eating out. Reducing the amount of money spent at restaurants can help you save more and eat healthier too. Now, that’s a win-win!

4. Swap out Starbucks for a cup of coffee at home
Does your daily walk to class include a trip to your favourite coffee shop? The start of a new year, and a new school semester, is the perfect time to end that coffee shop relationship. While buying your favourite cup of joe might be tasty, spending a few bucks at a coffee shop each day can add up over time. Now you don’t have to say goodbye to your daily coffee ritual, make it at home instead! Consider investing a little money into 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 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!

5. Be on the lookout for free money
As the age-old adage goes, money doesn’t grow on trees. However, there are a number of financing options you can benefit from to help fund your post-secondary education. Many universities across Canada offer a variety of scholarships, awards, and bursaries that you can apply for as long as you meet the requirements. By conducting a little research on your school’s website, you could find several scholarships you qualify for, and lower the amount of money you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket. Simply put, putting in a little effort now could mean substantial educational savings for you later. 

Start off the new school semester 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. Not yet a credit union member? To find your nearest credit union, click here.