Five tips on managing your student budget

With bluer skiers and sunnier days, it becomes a lot easier to spend frivolously and lose sight of your budget. Let’s face it, once summertime rolls around, we’re all heading to our favourite patios, attending music festivals, and planning vacations. Summer activities come with high costs, and managing these costs can be overwhelming while on a student budget.

Here are five tips on how you can have a great summer while also maintaining your budget.

1. Recognize your income and expenses

To budget is to create a financial plan for yourself. In order to do so, it’s essential to know where all the money is going. Creating a spreadsheet with your expenses can definitely help you keep track of your monthly bills. By knowing what your mandatory payments are, you will be able to assess your disposable income, which will tell you whether or not you can afford a specific activity. As students, it’s tempting to avoid our bank statements, but when it comes to budgeting, let’s remember that ignorance is not bliss!

Income versus expenses scale

2. The University of Waterloo’s Interactive Calculator

If Excel is not your strong suit and you aren’t comfortable with making your own spreadsheet, check out this Interactive Calculator provided by UWaterloo’s Student Awards & Financial Aid Office. It is an excellent and easy-to-use resource for students who would like to calculate an accurate depiction of their expenses.

3. Prioritize your spending

James W. Frick once said, “Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.” If you have ever taken an economics class, you’d know the importance of opportunity cost: that is, assessing alternatives for every financial decision you make.

Revert back to your expenses and ask yourself: Can I afford this? Is this worth it? The bottom line is this: you have to prioritize your needs over your wants.

4. Less is more

It’s simple: spend less and save more. Saving money is arguably the hardest task for a student on a budget, but it’s a pivotal for financial success. Remember, there are always cheaper alternatives. Instead of eating out on a nice patio, try making your own food and having a picnic. Or find some bargains! You can find a ton of discounted items in places like the UWaterloo Free & For Sale group on Facebook.

5. Take advantage of employment opportunities

If you want to spend money, you’ve got to make it! UWaterloo offers a plethora of opportunities for student employment. We offer a work-study program for full-time students, and you can also find numerous job opportunities on LEADS or with Feds!

excited to stay in budget meme.

Maintaining a budget can be a challenge for students, but it doesn’t always have to be! Use these tips to help guide you through your financial-making decisions; remember, the choices you make today will affect what you can afford tomorrow, so budget wisely.

Happy budgeting, Warriors!

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