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For some people, saving money comes a lot easier to them than it does to others. For me, I’m definitely in the group where it’s been easier to spend money than it has been to save money. While spending money is fun and necessary at times, it is an important skill to learn good money saving skills, especially in university. In this article, I am going to share some advice that I have learned recently for saving your money.

Tip #1: Have different accounts for different needs

This one is pretty basic but very helpful. If you set up different accounts for your different needs, it will hold you more accountable for your spending. For example, you could have a spending account, a general saving account, a travel funds account, an investment account, etc. Another good rule is to avoid constantly transferring money from your different accounts. If you’re always transferring money from your savings account to your spending account, then it kind of defeats the whole purpose of having a savings account. 

Tip #2: Track your spending

While this can be boring and tedious, it is very helpful to see where all of your money is going. I just recently started doing this, and I’ve found that it does help me. I use the app ‘Buddy’, but there are plenty of apps out there that can help you do this. Each time I make a purchase, I track it in this app. At the end of the month, I can see the different categories for what I’ve spent my money on and if I’ve spent too much in one area. For example, if I’ve spent a lot at coffee shops, I’ll be more conscious of that and try to cut back on it in the new month. 

Tip #3: Have something worth saving for

It’s nice to say that you have a goal of saving ‘X’ amount of money, but what is even more helpful for me is if I have a specific goal that I’m saving for. That could  either be for a trip, for a new pair of shoes, for a cool experience, or anything that will help to motivate you. This also helps because whenever you think of purchasing something, the thought will always be in the back of your mind that you could be saving it for that specific item. There is no downside to this because even if you don’t end up purchasing that certain item, at least you will have a bunch of money saved.

Tip #4: Pay yourself first

One good trick that I’ve heard for saving money is to ‘pay yourself first’. This means that when you get your paycheck/source of income, to always put some away in savings before spending it on wants. There is a rule called the 50-30-20 rule: 50% on necessities, 30% on wants and 20% into savings. You can adjust this to how you see fit for your lifestyle, but having a ratio to stick to will keep you on track with your savings goals. 

Tip #5: Cook meals at home

You often don’t realize how much the small purchases build up until you look at your bank statement and all of sudden, realize that you’ve spent $200 at Starbucks in the last month. A good way to keep the small purchases to a minimum is to make your coffee and meals at home. I know how fun it is going to coffee shops and eating out for meals, but cooking for yourself saves a lot of money in the long run. 

Tip #6: Thrift shopping and buying second hand

Pretty self explanatory, but thrift shopping and buying clothes and other things second hand from places such as Facebook marketplace and consignment stores are great ways to save your money and even vamp up your style! I’ve found so many cute pieces at thrift stores for a good price. Also bonus, if you donate some of your old stuff to Value Village, they often give you a coupon for 20% of your next purchase; even more savings!

Tip #7: Keep track of all your subscriptions

One way that companies can get you good is with automatic payments from subscriptions. With so many subscriptions available nowadays from Netflix, to Disney Plus, to TSN, and more, it can be easy to lose track of just how many you’ve subscribed to. Make sure that all of the ones you are subscribed to are being actively used. Also keep a lookout for student discounts – those can save you a lot!

Tip #8: Don’t make spending money a coping mechanism

Something that I’m working on is not making spending money a coping mechanism. Let’s say that you’ve had a bad day and going to get a new pair of shoes would make you feel so much better. That’s fine to do every once and a while but if you’re doing that everytime you feel down, it’s going to turn into an expensive habit. To avoid that, try picking up a hobby that is free or less expensive such as journaling, going to the gym, talking to a friend, listening to music, etc. 

Tip #9: Open up a TFSA and RRSP

A TFSA is a Tax Free Savings Account that can help you generate money, free of tax. You can hold cash, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in a TFSA and withdraw from it at any time. Each year the limit for contribution is determined and if you don’t contribute up to the contribution limit for that year, it is carried forward into the following year. On the other hand, an RRSP may not be as applicable right now, but the earlier you start saving, the more your future self will thank you. An RRSP is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan and it works similarly to a TFSA, except for an RRSP, there’s a tax deduction when you put in money, but to withdraw money, you do have to pay taxes.

Tip #10: The credit card rule

The older you get, the more necessary it may be to get a credit card. However, one thing that I’ve learned with credit cards is that if you can’t afford it with the money in your bank account, then you shouldn’t put it on your credit card. There are of course exceptions to this, but for the most part, you shouldn’t count on using your credit card all the time. Also, make sure to pay off your credit card on time. The interest will build up and you’ll have to pay more.

I hope that these money saving tricks can help you out if you’re more of a spender like me. It’s never too late to learn new money skills. Happy saving!

Claire Moser

Dalhousie '25

a work in progress.