Maybe you’re stressed because this is your first year away from home and you’re now responsible for managing your money. Or this is your umpteenth year in undergrad and you still haven’t figured out the trick to frugality. Either way, let’s start with the basics.
Budgeting is the best way to get a handle on your finances. Write out how much money you have to live off of whether that be from a part-time job, student loans or the bank of mom and dad.
Next, consider your expenses. Make sure you can cover the basics: rent, utilities, groceries and your phone bill. After that, be realistic about your monthly spending habits.
If after looking at the rough numbers and the nauseous feeling is still lingering in your stomach, it’s time to look at ways to increase your cash flow or ways to cut back. Look for where a significant amount of money is being absorbed.
Be it movie tickets, video games or bath bombs, everyone has their own preferred way to spend extra cash. While depriving yourself completely of these things would make for a bleak existence, it’s worth limiting your indulgences if you’re having trouble making ends meet.
Focus on cutting back anywhere that will make a significant difference in your monthly budget. Anything that costs under $10 is something you could potentially ignore.
Love avocado toast? Go for it. Can’t ditch your morning latte? Then don’t.
Even if you did cut out your weekday vice, you wouldn’t save yourself much more than $100 a month anyways. Same goes for shaving pennies off on each grocery item by choosing the generic brand because it’s not going to make much of a difference in the long run.
Reducing costs is one option but increasing your input might be more popular than frugality. For example, spending money on going out each weekend is fine as long as you strike a balance by working one shift a week to fund your bar star lifestyle.
No matter what your financial circumstances are, the burden of classes, textbooks and everything else is enough to make most students stressed at the beginning of the year.
As the leaves start changing colours, the ritual of back-to-school shopping begins. The temptation to buy an outrageous amount of school supplies each fall is like a siren song calling from the aisles of Staples.
Check out the stationary you have at home first before going. If you’re new to campus, don’t worry about needing to deck yourself out with the gear to match. Keep it simple with a couple binders, paper and pens.
If it’s more the upfront costs of classes and textbooks that are distressing you, consider taking a student loan. Or at least opt-out of the loans and request only non-repayable grants. The amount depends on how much you are assessed for, but it could be as much as tuition for a term.
Budgeting only goes so far. Even though you might think you anticipated all costs, there is always something that will come up. Set aside some miscellaneous funds. For example, chances are the laptop you start university with won’t make it out with you.
And finally, we have come to the one thing we all have in common — overspending on campus food, as the absurdly alluring smell of food from Lower Place during midterm season could throw any well-meaning student into the red.
Plan for failure and keep a $20 bill in your backpack for when you need food between classes because life is short and you need to cut yourself some slack.
Nykole King / Editor-in-Chief
Graphic: Shawna Langer / Graphics Editor