Managing your budget as a student
Being a full-time or part-time student is hard. It’s hard to work and go to school while you’re learning how to adult.
You’ll be surprised that building your money management skills will improve your confidence. The more confidence you have when it comes to your spending, the easier you’ll find it to get ahead.
There is a lot that isn’t really taught in school and managing your money is probably the top of that list. This is why we’ve come up with a few budget tips to help you manage your finances better as you continue learning in school.
Table of Contents
How you can budget
Why you should be interested in budgeting
Budgeting has been shown to help people build awareness of their financial position and manage constraints.
While it’s easy to think of budgeting as something negative, budgeting can be immensely rewarding because you work towards financial stability, avoid stress of not being able to pay for your expenses, and effectively design the life you want.
It should be said that this blog post doesn’t replace, and isn’t intended as a substitute, for the value of financial advice that’s tailored to your personal circumstances.
Living your best life + saving money
If you ask me, “budgeting” has a negative connotation to it. But, the reality is that budgeting is what you need to do to make sure you’re on track with your money.
The most common consequences of not budgeting include a lack of savings, less financial security, out-of-control spending, a higher likelihood of going into debt, and more financial stress. And honestly, you’re already stressed out enough with school, don’t stress yourself out with your finances!
Statistics about studying in Canada
How to make a budget for University or College
Before you start, set a goal. Budgeting and building your financial literacy is like a muscle. You’ve got to do the work and develop good habits that support your goal. Budgeting is a hard skill to learn because, let’s face it, spending money is a lot more fun. But, you’ve got to reorient yourself to understand that you might regret spending all your money today when you have none tomorrow.
Work out your fixed expenses
You can either look back at your bank statement to total up all your previous purchases or simply input a rough estimate of how much you think you spend on each category.
- Fixed Expenses
Fixed expenses are costs which do not generally change from one period of time to the next, like rent, reoccurring subscriptions, and insurance. Saving money for your future is also considered a fixed expense.
If you’re going to school and living at home (without paying rent), then you’ve found yourself in the perfect situation when it comes to student budgeting.
On the other hand, if you’re renting, it’s important to understand how to allocate your income to ensure you pay rent on time. Rent represents by far the biggest expenditure for students. As there are sadly no voucher codes or deals when it comes to housing, rent can be a particularly tricky area to save money on. But, don’t lose faith – there are many ways to save when it comes to your living situation as a student.
Tips for managing rent costs
Utilities and other expenses
Everyone has different responsibilities when it comes to paying their bills – including their student tuition fees. Whether you’re paying for your phone bill, Spotify Premium, insurance, utilities, etc., reoccurring subscriptions and services can really add up.
Itemize every single reoccurring bill that you have, call around to try to lower the cost of each bill if you can, and ensure that you have enough income to pay your bills.
Narrow down what you really need in order to stay within your budget. Do you really need data on your phone plan, or are you always close to wifi? If you’re able to split bills with a roommate or friends, even better!
Since reoccurring subscriptions and services are a fixed cost, they are easy to budget for.
Tips for managing utilities bills and other expenses
Allocating money to savings is essential to build a great credit rating and set yourself up for your future.
There are many ways you can do this. Some people choose to use apps like Moka to round up the cost of bank transactions so their savings accrue in the background. While others use rules, like say transferring 10% of their income to a savings account each week, to develop good savings habits.
Work out your income
Now you know your fixed expenses, it’s a good time to know how much money you have coming in. There are many ways to increase your income – whether it be by doing a side hustle, changing your work schedule, or perhaps finding a different line of work.
Document your income, then you need to work out your variable expenses.
- Variable Expenses
Variable expenses are those which change over a period of time, like groceries and gas. Managing variable expenses makes budgeting hard. Your budget might need to be adjusted as your spending habits change. Some people choose to budget for variable expenses by allocating a percentage of the remainder of income they have left over.
Whether you’re driving to school and incurring car expenses like gas and insurance, or you’re paying for a monthly bus/train pass, make sure you’re including all of these expenses into your budget.
A lot of transport companies offer excellent prices for students who commute because they know that you’re on a budget.
Some students invest in an electric bike because they can save money in gas and insurance, but also live further from campus.
Tips for managing transit costs
Purchasing groceries is one of the best ways a student can save money instead of constantly going out to eat.
We’ve listed groceries under variable expenses because we know it’s hard to come up with a solid meal plan for many students, and our cravings and diets change.
Life is meant to be lived. Factoring in entertainment and eating out costs is important for your health.
Just because you’re budgeting doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice eating out. It just means you have to be smart and put in place a system to help you keep your costs under control.
Health + Entertainment
Whether you like to enjoy sports, going out with friends, or going out to watch movies, make sure that this also fits into your budget.
If you like you’ll be spending more snowboarding in the winter, make sure you save enough in the months before the season begins.
Budgeting does help on a day or night out because it gets you thinking ahead and setting a limit on how much you’re going to spend on the night. Control your temptation to spend more by withdrawing your planned amount in cash to help you stick to your goals and split expenses as much as you can.
Clothes + other discretionary shopping
Shopping may be a part of your lifestyle and if it is, ensure you budget for it.
There are many fashion retailers that offer student discounts, so if you love to shop, or just need a new pair of jeans, make sure you check out these brands first
Canada Student Discount Guide: Fashion brands that offer student discounts that you can stack with Moola's discounted gift cards
For more ideas on saving money
It’s often said that students who haven’t established their careers shouldn’t be splurging on travel, but we think otherwise.
If you want to explore the world, we believe you can still do it as a student. It’s important to experience things that are happening outside of your own bubble at home.
Buying a great gift doesn’t have to break the bank. You can still purchase thoughtful gifts that’ll put a smile on someone’s face that falls within your budget.
Your nearest and dearest are undoubtedly deserving of all the love, affection, and gifts you have to offer. But sometimes your bank balance just won’t stretch far enough to match your enthusiasm.
Canada Student Budget Guide: saving on gifting
For more ideas on saving money on gifts
Life costs less with Moola
No matter what kind of financial situation you’re in, there will always be a way to budget and afford all of the things that life offers. With Moola, you can combat the rising cost of living by changing the way you pay. With over 200 merchants on the marketplace to buy from, as well as a digital wallet to store your cards safely for when you need them, it’s easy to pay less to afford more with Moola.