How to stay financially stable while you study
Everyone needs a budget. But while making it — and sticking to it — may seem daunting, the process can actually be painless. There are dozens of ways to save a few dollars each day.
Here are six solid tips to get you started.
1. Credit? Forget it
If you don’t have the cash for something, don’t buy it.
Sure, your credit card might seem like a life-saver and, yes, you might be able to put the bill out of your mind until the end of the month. But if you don’t pay it fully on its arrival, you’ll incur serious interest charges and your credit rating will suffer.
For more on the hazards of plastic,
see “6 ways not to ruin your credit.”
2. Choose your ATM wisely
In a city like Montreal, ATMs abound, but not all are created equal. Private terminals — the ones you’ll see in stores, restaurants and bars — will charge you exorbitant fees.
Make sure to open an account with a bank that has lots of cash machines in your neighobourhood; that way, you’ll have convenient, inexpensive access to cash. It’s not worth paying as much as $5 to take $20 out, is it?
3. Letters to live by: BMW
If you own or have access to a car, you might feel tempted to drive it anywhere and everywhere. Don’t.
Considering the high costs of gas and parking, your best option is BMW — that is “bus,” “metro,” “walk.” If you really have to drive, consider carpooling. You’ll leave a smaller footprint on the environment, and you’ll save money (but real friends kick in for gas).
4. Don’t let food eat your budget
There isn’t exactly a dearth of restaurants in the city. But while you might be inclined to eat out for every meal, at the end of the month, your wallet and stomach could both be empty.
It’s cool to pick up a quick bite every now and then — just watch how much you spend on those grab-and-go eats and drinks. When it comes to preparing food on your own, take advantage of grocery store specials. Another idea might be to set up a food co-op with some friends. Buying in bulk is usually a lot cheaper.
Just remember: never, ever go shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll be amazed at the ill-advised grocery orders you can end up walking out with when you’re buying on impulse.
5. Cheap thrills
A night out with your friends doesn’t have to mean a hit to your wallet. Throw a dinner party, and share the expenses by shopping and cooking together. You may even discover new dishes that are tasty, inexpensive and healthy.
6. Hit the books, but don’t break the bank
Textbooks are one of the biggest expenses you’ll face as a student. Fortunately, most are available second-hand, which means you can save a lot of money on them.
Just check the used books section at the university or student-run co-op bookstores — the former will even let you rent your books. And unless you’ll need your old textbooks for future reference, consider selling them and putting the cash they yield toward this year’s stack.
These tips were excerpted from “Money matters,” an article originally published in the August 2013 issue of
The Bridge Magazine
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