Whether it’s paying for this semester’s tuition or paying off those pesky credit-card bills, money is always a problem. With the help of four experts from distinct financial backgrounds, we’ve collected some tips that you can use to get back on track after a dollar-draining holiday.
1. FIND THE NUMBERS AND SAVE
Coleen Clark, a Ryerson finance professor and an expert in personal finance, has written two textbooks on saving money: Risk Management and Insurance in Canada and Retirement and Estate Planning in Canada. She urges students to track their money – every single dime – for about a month to determine where it’s going.
“The first thing you need to know is what the numbers are. From there, you need to make a decision,” Clark says. “Do I really want to be spending $20 a week on coffee?”
She says it may sound silly for students to save money when they have so little, but it’s important to get into the habit. “Putting something as modest as five dollars a week into a savings account can make a difference,” says Clark.
2. BECOME A PRO AT BANKING
Saransh Bhatt, a financial advisor at TD Canada Trust, says the first step to getting student expenses on track is to do some research and determine which bank will give the most back since banks tend to compete with each other for student business.
“It’s a good idea to visit a bank and start building a relationship with an advisor so they can set you up for as much financial success as possible,” he says. Bhatt also suggests opening multiple accounts to manage money for different purposes. “Personally, I have four accounts set up – gas, insurance, entertainment, and savings. Just like drawers in a cupboard, they keep me organized,” he says.
3. APPS THAT SAVE
A Canadian-based start-up company, Reebee, provides its users with local retail flyers that automatically update based on the user’s location. Co-founders Tobiasz Dankiewicz and Michal Martyniak say the app is very popular around campuses since its smartphone format is easier for students to adapt to than older generations.
“When you go to university, you fend for yourself,” Dankiewicz says. “Flyers aren’t delivered on campus, so being able to take them with you wherever you go can help students shop economically.”
“A little bit of planning can really save quite a bit of money,” Martyniak adds.
The app also allows users to search specific products rather than browse through an entire flyer.
4. REALLY REALLY START BUDGETING
Shinthu Sivabalan,the president of Ryerson’s finance society, says tracking the movement of your money will help identify the areas to spend less or more in.
“Start simple. Think about your typical day and where you spend the most. Then, compare your total to your income and you’ll see that it may be time to make some adjustments,” she says.