Five tips to first-year financial stability

Jelani Grant
Senior Reporter

From new social circles to new living situations, college and university can be overwhelming for most first-year students. Throughout the years, tuition fees have stood as one of the greatest challenges to post-secondary participation.

After their first year is complete, most students get the idea but for a majority of freshmen, handling scholarships and loans can be difficult during the first semester. For any students concerned about how to keep control of their newfound wealth, Mississauga District Vice President Chris Stager has presented Scotiabank’s five tips to help students manage their finances.

1. Create a budget

Stager says if students can map out their regular expenses, tuition costs, and expected income as early as possible, they can be more prepared for the regular costs that are sure to come. “It doesn’t have to be complicated,” said Stager. “But independence does come with a price.”

The cost of financial freedom is finding a way to live through your own income. Of course, maintaining the budget is the real test when determining financial success during the school year. So Stager encourages students create the budget, but also track spending throughout the year to guarantee they are on track money-wise.

2. Get a rewards card

With the costs of textbooks, transportation, and food, it may not always feel like there is enough money in the bank to attend classes and still enjoy stress free activities. “Costs can add up,” said Stager. In between classes and after the day is over, students need a chance to vent their frustrations from the day but the costs may cause hesitation with some. Among the rewards cards offerings from a wide variety of retailers, restaurants and service companies, Scotiabank’s SCENE debit card offers customers the opportunity to watch movies for free, as well as discounts in grocery, retail stores and various local restaurants.

3. Seek professional financial advice

If students don’t believe they or their parents can formulate a foolproof plan for staying on top of their funds, reach out to the school to meet with a financial advisor. Stager says they will most likely urge undergrads to open an account, meant specifically to hold loans, scholarships, grants and bursaries. This is a good starting point, but “every student’s financial and living situation is different so speaking to a professional financial advisor,” said Stager, can make the cost of living feel a little easier.

4. Take advantage of student discounts

Most cities with universities and colleges acknowledge their large student demographic and offer many student discounts. A little extra homework, researching student sales, can go a long way in saving a few dollars with every purchase. Both Sports Chek and Roots Canada offer discounts to students.

5. Go mobile

In order to track weekly income and costs during the school year, students can simply refer to their smartphones. Banks have adapted to fast-paced society by creating free apps where customers can view all of their bank information, make transactions as well as receive mobile alerts concerning their account.

Stager said the new responsibility of handling all your own income is not easy at first but following these five strategies can make the post-secondary experience smoother.

Of course these guidelines do not apply exclusively to students starting their post-secondary journey. Stager said these tips could be valuable to anyone who has recently become financially independent.

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