How to Start Budget Planning
Budgeting is an important component of student life. By planning how your money is to be spent, you can ensure you are prepared for the full year ahead. Without a plan, you might find yourself spending more than your college fund allows, falling behind on bill payments, and winding up in a very difficult situation. Lets be certain that won't happen! Plan ahead, stay on track, and finish happy!
To create a budget plan, you need to account for two things: your financial resources and expenses.
How do you plan on paying for your costs while in school? You might have help from relatives, maybe you won the lottery, or perhaps the cost is on you! You will need to determine the amount of money you will have available to you in order to know whether or not you have enough to make it through the school year. If you already know you do not have enough funds to pay for your costs while in school, there are various financial aid options available to you. Click here for more information on how to fund your college career.
If you are already a student, you can find your exact costs for tuition and fees on your eBill (accessed through your Loop account), or at the Cashiers Office. Keep in mind that your books and supplies are not included here - you may reflect back on receipts or check in with the Campus Store to determine your textbook costs.
If you are a prospective student, you can estimate your costs using Program Cost Estimates. It is important to know that these costs are estimated and that your actual expenses may differ.
There are various costs associated with your day-to-day living situation: rent, utilities, cable/internet, phone, groceries, parking, gas, movie night with friends, yoga class, birthday and Christmas presents, and so much more! Don't be overwhelmed! Start out by determining your wants from your needs. Do you need to go to the movie theatre every month? Probably not - but you do need a roof over your head!
Your Budget at a Glance
To get a rough idea of how far your money will stretch, use our Budget Calculator.
To get a more detailed account of your costs and resources, use this detailed budget worksheet.
Tips for Living on a Budget
There are many simple things you can do which will make a big impact on your budget. Budgeting isn't only about costs versus resources - it's about weighing the benefits of your financial obligations and deciding whether they are worth it. Living in your own rental may be an alluring idea, but is it worth thousands of dollars in debt? By making simple sacrifices you can save yourself from a heavy financial burden.
Live with Parents or Relatives
If you have the ability to stay with family during your time as a student, take advantage of this option! You may be offered free accommodations, or perhaps you can come up with a reasonable agreement that benefits both parties. If living with family isn't an option, you may want to consider living with roommates or living in affordable campus housing.
Shop Around for Textbooks
Textbook prices can be enough to keep you up at night! Don't loose sleep over it - shop around for new or used textbooks at discounted prices at the Campus Store, online (Amazon, Kijiji, buy & sell groups, etc.), or from other students.
Sell Your Used Textbooks
You might not want your textbook after the semester is over, but someone else will! Sell your used textbooks to other students or take advantage of the Campus Store book buy-back service.
Apply for Awards & Scholarships
Your education might just pay for itself - there are students who are able to graduate debt-free thanks to scholarship winnings! Apply for as many awards and scholarships as you can.
Use Alternate Modes of Transportation
Having a car is a luxury - not a necessity. If you are able to utilize an alternate mode of transportation, you can save big on transportation expenses. This sacrifice is not an all-or-nothing option - you can cut back in a number of ways:
- Keep your car, but use a different mode of transportation to travel to and from school (walk, bike, longboard/skateboard, bus)
- Set up a carpool. By splitting the cost of transportation between a few friends, everyone wins!
- Get rid of your car all together. By selling your car, you will not only gain the income of the sale, but you will save on the various expenses associated with owing a car (insurance, gas, registration, regular maintenance, parking, etc.).
Opt Out of Health & Dental Benefits
If you already have health and dental coverage through another source, you may want to opt out of the health and dental benefits offered through the Students' Association. By opting out, you can save up to $294 per academic year.
- Student ID cards: Businesses often offer discounted pricing to students with valid student ID cards. Be sure to carry your card with you and ask the business you frequent whether they have student pricing.
- Use coupons and shop on discount grocery days: Many grocery stores offer discounts of 10-15% off on Customer Appreciation Days (usually the first Tuesday of the month). Rather than shopping on an as-needed basis, plan your big grocery trips to take place on discount days. Browse flyers (paper versions or online) to see what stores have your favorite items on sale and plan your meals based on these discounted items.
- Shop sale racks: Why buy one pair of pants when you can get a whole outfit for the same price? Check out sale racks before heading to the section of new arrivals, or try shopping at local consignment or thrift stores.
Take Advantage of Tax Deductions
Both the provincial and federal government offer tax benefits to post-secondary students. Click here for more information.
Educate Yourself with Financial Literacy Literature
Student Funding & Awards Office
Room 1102 | RDC
Box 5005 - 100 College Blvd, Red Deer, AB T4N 5H5
t: 403.342.3254 | f: 403.342.3262 | e: financialaid [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca