Financial planning 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. Let's be certain that won't happen! Plan ahead, stay on track, and finish happy!
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To create a budget is to create a plan of attack that compares your financial resources to your expenses. The goal is to create a balanced budget, where your expenses do not exceed your resources, and it is important to update your budget plan if and when something changes (ie. loss of employment, change in residence, etc.). This may seem like an overwhelming task, but with our tips, tricks and resources below, your budget planning will be a breeze.
1. Consider your financial resources. How do you plan on paying for your expenses while in school? Whether your income will come from your family, government assistance, savings or employment, 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.
2. Consider your financial expenses. It is easy to overlook the expenses you incur and to underestimate the amount you spend on a regular basis. When compiling your financial expenses, be sure to include your educational costs (tuition, mandatory fees, books, supplies), basic needs (rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, transportation) and miscellaneous or luxury expenses (Netflix, coffee runs, going out with friends, birthday/holiday gifts). When taking your first stab at your budget, be sure to include all the expenses that you currently incur as well as those that you envision yourself incurring. Would you like to be able to buy yourself a coffee every day? If so, put this in your budget plan.
3. Review your budget. After your budget plan has been populated with all of your resources and expenses, review your bottom line - is it balanced? If your expenses exceed your resources you have two options: find a way to increase your resources (get a job, work more hours) or decrease your spending. Start out by determining your wants from your needs. Do you need to buy a coffee every day or go to the movie theatre every month? Probably not, but you do need a roof over your head. Continue to play with your budget plan until you find yourself a balanced 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.
Apply for awards and scholarships. There are students who are able to graduate debt-free thanks to scholarship winnings! Apply for as many awards and scholarships as you can.
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.
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.).
Shop discounts. Businesses often offer discounted pricing to students with valid student ID cards. Be sure to carry your iCard with you and ask the businesses you frequent whether they have student pricing. Many grocery stores offer discounts of 10-15% off on Customer Appreciation Day (usually the first Tuesday of the month) and have specific discount days for students. Rather than shopping on an as-needed basis, plan your big grocery trips to take place on discount days. When shopping for clothing, check out the sale racks before heading to the new arrivals, or try shopping at local consignment and thrift stores.
Both the provincial and federal government offer tax benefits to post-secondary students. Click here for more information.
Student Connect Centre
Room 1102 | RDC
Box 5005 - 100 College Blvd, Red Deer, AB T4N 5H5
t: 403.342.3254 | f: 403.342.3262 | e: studentconnect [at] rdc [dot] ab [dot] ca
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