Because it is excruciatingly and increasingly hard to make ends meet while in college and university, student debt is on the rise in Canada. Across the Canadian provinces in 2015 for instance, the share of insolvent debtors under 30 hovered around 10 per cent in 2015, according to data from Statistics Canada. Of those statistics, student loan debt accounted for approximately 33% of the insolvencies. Furthermore, most students live on limited resources nearly below the poverty level. A student’s source of funding are typically student loans, financial help from family, and part time jobs. In order to make ends meet, most students must watch every penny they spend. What this means is watching entertainment spending, cutting back on clothing expenses, cutting back the grocery bill, and limiting overall spend. There are multiple avenues to saving money in order to prevent having to take out maximum student loan, bank loan, or add to credit card debt. Gathered from personal experience, following are some tips for living on a budget as a student in the city.
Cut the monthly utility bill by unplugging appliances
When appliances are plugged in, they consume power. Again speaking from personal experience, you can reduce your electricity bill by as much as 30% by unplugging unused appliances such as the coffee machine, living room lamp, and blender, for example. You will also be friendlier to the environment by consuming less energy.
Get the cheapest cell phone contract possible
Cell phone bills can be so expense but that doesn’t have to be so. Because there is so much competition in the industry, many providers offer to undercut the competition. Also, don’t be afraid to shop around and bargain a bit. When signing a new contract with a new cellphone, often the provider will throw in free bees like car chargers and cases. Continue to stay on top of new offers by keeping in contact with your provider. Sometimes cell companies will phone to let you know of changes and offers but many do not.
Coupon clip and flyer browse
You would be surprised at how much money you can save on toiletries, hair products, and kitchen items when you cut coupons. Retailers are always offering deals to get the attention of consumers and their dollars. Smart Canucks is a great website coupon clipping and offering the latest deals from retailers – see the link here
Eating meat every day can be expensive. Try to opt for cheaper sources of protein a few times a week instead of meat or seafood a few times a week. Healthy and cheap sources of protein include nuts and seeds, beans, and tofu. Not only will your body and mind thank you for it, but so will the planet since cutting back on meat has many positive environmental implications including less water consumed to sustain livestock and less carbon monoxide into the earth’s atmosphere that is released from animal waste.
Have a monthly entertainment budget
Eating out, movies, and theater costs all add up. Following a budget that cuts back on entertainments will make a big difference in monthly spend. For example, limit yourself to one meal out every other week or to two movies a month, for example. Find cheap entertainment ideas like streaming movie sites, or subscribing to paid streaming sites. Or if you are really lucky, someone you know may offer their log in details for their Netflix account.
Have a monthly clothing allowance
Clothing is so expensive especially when you go out and shop frivolously. As a student, you must have a monthly clothing allowance. If you really have a penchant for saving, you’ll be even thriftier and shop in second hand and consignment shops.
Buy clothing, computer, books, and general necessities used if possible
Along with being environmentally friendly, buying used items is far cheaper than buying new. You can save so much money by buying things used. Try online resources such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to search for used items.
Cut back on unnecessary memberships
Do you really need that yoga pass? Or your extra gym membership? Take advantage of the gym in your building or pony up with a friend who has one in theirs. Also, community centers often have cheaper memberships than the mainstream companies.
Bulk shop and split the bill with friends
Buying items in bulk can be a good idea especially if you split the bill with friends. As well, not everyone needs 20 cans of tomato paste or 30 rolls of toilet paper. Costco and select grocery retailers often have a bulk section for those who like to save money.
Get a roommate
Rent is one of the biggest living expenses for anyone but can be very financially tapping for students. Cut the rent bill and the utility expenses in half with a roommate. Also, you may find that the roommate can be your study partner or friend besides helping to cut down on living costs.
Take advantage of student discounts
Just about every retail and service provider out there offers student discounts. Restaurants, gyms, retailers, etc try to make it easier for students living on a budget. Don’t be afraid to ask for that discount either if it isn’t obvious – if you don’t ask, you may never get as the saying goes.
Get a part time job or volunteer
Getting a part time job or volunteering where you like to shop or obtain your services or goods can mean extra discounts or free things. For example, working as a volunteer at your favorite yoga studio could mean a free pass. Getting a job where you shop for food or clothing means discounts or free services.
Eat a brown bag lunch to save on food costs
Save money and eat healthier by brown bagging! Eating out every day or every other day adds immensely to the grocery bill. For example, lunch out every day, even a little say, $10 per day could add up to $200 per month. Do the math on the yearly bill! Your pocketbook and your waistline will thank you for it.
Don’t be afraid to shop in discount bins at the grocery store
Most of the time, grocery stores discount items that are near or at their best before due date and most of the time, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the food. However, if meat is discounted, it should be consumed relatively quickly so that it doesn’t spoil. Produce also goes bad fast and again, should be consumed right away. Often times, a grocery store discount bins damaged canned items as well. Again, Mother Earth and your pocketbook will love you for this as there is far too much food that is wasted due to items thrown out because of being over or close to their due dates
Use points and rewards programs
The points and rewards program era is on fire. Again, retailers want to capture the attention of consumers. Shop at places that offer rewards and coupon clip for reward and point specials. You can get free items and save lots of your hard earned dollars including free movies, food, and travel.
Only buy things on sale if possible
As a student and even today, I would never buy things or impulse shopped unless I needed them or I was treating myself. As a student, if I reached a milestone in my studies or passed an exam, I would treat myself. Today, if I reach a personal benchmark, I will also treat myself. It is so easy these days to impulse shop. As well, as consumers, we are constantly being bombarded with through media and social media with advertising messages to capture our money and attention.