As kids of all ages head back to school, below are the top five tips about money, budgeting and personal finance for those off to post-secondary this September.
Don’t just let your finances happen to you – it’s time to take control. You’re a grown up now (right?) so don’t rely on your mom to remind you to pay your cellphone bill anymore.
Make a budget, know when bills are due (and pay them on time!) and keep track of how much you’re spending and what savings you require for each semester so you’ll know in advance if you need more income coming in.
Use credit wisely
Good credit habits need to start now, because a few slip ups and you’ll be haunted by a bad credit score later in life.
Resist the temptation to sign-up for every student card or line of credit that’s out there. Instead do some research, talk to a financial advisor at your credit union and find the product mix that’s right for you. Credit unions offer some of the lowest rates out there for students and many have student accounts with zero fees, so your local branch is a good place to start.
Apply for loans, scholarships and bursaries
Typical advice, but how many actually sit down and do it? Set aside some time during summer break, reading week or on the weekends and approach this task like a big assignment.
There are many funding programs out there and they often require something as simple as a copy of transcripts and a short essay. Check out ScholarshipsCanada.com for a comprehensive list of what’s out there and remember that if you’re a credit union member you might be eligible for a scholarship or bursary from your financial institution as well – learn more about credit union scholarships here.
Look for ways to save
Maybe it’s student’s night at the local pub or cheap movie Tuesday or the yearly used textbook sale; there are plenty of deals to be had for students. Remember you can still have fun and be thrifty if you make a budget and stick to it.
Take advantage of things like transit passes or health insurance that may be subsidized by your student union and use social media buy and sell groups to find textbooks, supplies, even clothes and furniture for cheap. With a little planning and purposeful (not mindless) spending, you can keep your finances on track.
Get a job
This may be controversial advice – isn’t school about studying? – but finding a part time, temporary or co-op job is not only a great way to earn extra cash, it can help you find a full-time role in your field after graduation.
Be cognizant of your schedule, and plan to work when your semester is lighter or you’re on break and don’t have classes. Make use of your program’s co-op education program if they have one, or ask your professor’s if they are hiring interns or teaching assistants. Even if wage is low, these jobs may lead to valuable experience and a network in your field.
For more financial advice that puts you – and where you’re at in life – first, talk to your local credit union today. Find a location near you here.