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Saving Money as a College Student

Written by Laurel Xiao in Student Life on April 3, 2019

Some students might find that saving money while in college is pretty hard and that is completely understandable. Being in college is a great time to learn important steps in budgeting, and how to properly manage your finances. Financial independence is an important skill to develop while in school and to prepare you for life.

Here are some tips on how you can save money as a college student:

Piggy bank sitting on top of a stack of money
Student counting their monthly expenses

1. Keep Track of Your Expenses

Keeping track of your daily, monthly and yearly expenses will help greatly in making decisions on budgeting and having a grasp of where your money is going.

You can do that by making a worksheet of your expenses, or use the worksheet provided by the Government of Canada

Try your best to fill your expense sheet out every month.

After three to four months, look at the changes in numbers in each section.

If some expenses are extremely high in one month, think about why, and whether you can avoid them.

If some expenses are low in one month, also think about why and whether the saving can be replicated.

2. Make Informed Financial Decisions

In college, there will a variety of things you may sign up for. It could be credit cards, bank accounts, or phone plans. All these instances require you to do your due diligence in researching and reading agreements carefully to make informed decisions.

For example:

Read the contract carefully before you sign up for a cell phone plan. Understand what is included and what is not. Choose the package that suits you best. Download the carrier’s app on your phone and track your voice and data usage frequently.

In addition to that, it’s important for your budgeting and credit score to always pay your bills on time. This avoids late fees and keeps your credit score in check!

3. Save More Where You Can (Food & Shopping)

There are various ways that students can save more in regards to daily expenses such as with groceries, food and shopping!

Here are a couple tips to save when it comes to food:

– Avoid over-spending on expensive restaurant meals.

– If you want to dine out, try to do it with a few friends so you can split the bill.

– Keep an eye out for free food at the college, such as Multicultural Lunch Days. 

Man stacking pennies
Student taking note of amount of money

Here are a couple tips to save when it comes to shopping:

– Research into discount information before you go shopping. Holidays such as Black Friday and Boxing Day have great sales. Having patience and waiting for sales to make purchases for things that you don’t need right away are definitely worth it!

–  Use coupons whenever possible. Take advantage of student discounts if you can. Be a smart shopper by avoiding paying for just the brand but making sure that the quality is worth the price. Sometimes you can get the same quality at a significantly lower price.

–  Avoid impulsive shopping

– Avoid buying things that you will never use. It’s good for your budget as well as the environment. Clearly distinguish what you want from what you need.

4. Research into free options for study materials

Textbooks can get expensive!

Instead of purchasing new textbooks every semester, there are open textbooks for some courses.

Be sure to ask your instructors for information of resources that are free of charge. Look into the second-hand book market online before you buy a brand new one. In addition, be sure to check with the library before you buy any new books as there might be some available to borrow.

PS: It also helps to study hard so you don’t need to pay tuition fees for the same courses again.

5. Remember that saving money doesn’t mean living an unhealthy lifestyle

A common misconception in college is that in order to save money, we need to cut down on things that contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle. That is definitely not true! There are various ways to maintain a wholesome, healthy lifestyle on a budget.

Person hiking on rocky trail
Grocery cart in aisle

Some ways to do that :

– Drink water instead of sweetened beverages

– Run in local, popular parks instead of paying for expensive gym memberships

– Buy groceries at cheaper, more cost effective grocery stores instead of specialty stores

These are just several ways that you can implement in your lifestyle to start saving money while being a college student!

Visit the AC Economics page as well to learn more about the Economics courses offered at Alexander College!


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Economics Instructor at Alexander CollegeAuthor: 

Laurel Xiao obtained her Master of Arts degree in Economics from Simon Fraser University after she got her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Finance and Law in China.

After graduation, Laurel had worked in accounting and mortgage industries before she started to teach economics at Alexander College in January 2010. She has taught a variety of first and second year economic courses at the college, including microeconomics, macroeconomics, labour economics and environmental economics.

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