With OSAP money starting to roll in, it can be hard to think ahead and start saving. As the term progresses it gets harder to save money, especially if you go on an OSAP spending spree in September. You may not be able to pinpoint the exact moment your funds begin decreasing —before it happens all at once.
It starts slowly: with the purchase of a nice sweater, a few treat-yourself-dinners at 168 Sushi, and a bubble tea now and then. But before you know it, you’re spending a cold winter living off of packaged ramen noodles and off-brand mac and cheese. In one fell swoop your savings and your nutrition take a hit.
We’ve all been there once or twice though! Typically, it’s due to overestimating your budget at the beginning of the year. Fear not, here are five helpful tips that will ensure you spend smarter.
1. Save for a rainy day
This age-old saying is still relevant for a reason! Setting aside some money for emergencies is beneficial for Future You. This way, you can build a nice cushion of cash to take from when you have unexpected expenses you need to pay for down the line. Consider that last-minute club event, grocery tab, or extra charge on your hydro bill paid for!
Student Awards and Financial Aid has an easy-to-use budget calculator. Calculate for what you know you'll need — then set a goal to save a little extra every term.
2. Keep tabs on your bank account
If you are someone who pays first and asks questions later, it may be time to start checking the status of your bank account before you spend. If you’re usually on the go, you can download apps like Mint, Wally or PocketGuard that help you manage your money.
Knowing exactly how much you are spending per day will you maintain a realistic perspective on your available funds — and make you re-think buying a venti Starbuck’s latte and considering an 80 cent coffee from the Math CND instead.
Organize your meals weekly
Deciding what to eat beforehand is easier said than done. As a student, sometimes all you have time for is to grab a quick meal out. However, buying food in bulk and portioning out your meals for the week will save you time, and even money.
Be on the look out, because most grocery stores around the University offer student discounts on certain days of the week. Simply pick a day when you have a light workload, buy some fresh ingredients and get to cooking!
Actively look for sales and discounts
A life-saving hack for student life is to clip coupons and get store notifications sent to your email about sales. You can even get student discounts on recreational activities. Swing by THEMUSEUM in Kitchener on Wednesdays and you only have to pay $5 for admission. Or check out Princess Cinemas in Uptown Waterloo, and watch a feature film for only $9 with your WatCard present. With deals available all around Waterloo, you no longer need to pay full price to get what you want.
Have fun without breaking the bank
It can be tempting to go out to lunch every day or go to the mall with friends, but you don’t need to spend money to have a good time. You can enjoy a night in cooking together, baking cookies, or playing cards. You can throw a watch-party for the newest season of your favourite Netflix show, or spend a day out exploring Waterloo on foot, visiting its beautiful parks and trails.
As the term continues, using even one or two of these tips can help you increase your savings. Planning ahead and adjusting your spending now and then is guaranteed to help you in the long run, and to keep you cozy during the winter. Future You will definitely be grateful!