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WTF Is a Budget?!: How to be a Not-Broke Student

The balance between well being and managing money for a student is a tough one. Often times you find that you missed breakfast when you didn’t get enough sleep, but your wallet says you can’t buy food on campus either. You’d like to get a job, but your class schedule may not be flexible – so now what? It’s time to get real about the money… it’s time to start a budget, and here are the tips to help you get started!


General Tips

1. Figure out how much money you have: Are you working part time or occasionally through the year? Did you save some cash over the summer, winter break, or previous co-op term?

2. Track your spending: Create an excel or paper chart to track how much you’re actually using – the number will surprise you! Once you see how much money is going OUT of your account, you’ll definitely be inclined to make some changes (trust me, those Tims runs add up fast)

3. Cut back on the non-essentials: How many automated payments are you making to Apple music, Spotify, Netflix, etc.? Can you cut down your phone plan to less data? Do you really need that grande non-fat, less sweet, vanilla latte each morning? Probably not. Cut back to two drinks per week, let go of some of your subscriptions and see the difference it makes – you’re rich now!

4. Make lists – then stick to them: Whether it’s Christmas gifts, groceries, or running errands, always have a list and a budget in mind. You’ll find that you’ll spend less when you only get what you need and you aren’t aimlessly grabbing things as you go. Meal planning and prep is a great tool to help you stick to a list, and stay mindful about eating habits too!



Other Hacks

1. Check online! People love to save money and then talk about it. There are lots of great tips and tricks you can do to cut back! I’ve found the Flipp app to be extremely useful when buying groceries each week. Whoever invented price-match is my saviour!

2. Try thrifting! Thrift shopping is definitely trendy right now, and it’s super affordable! You can find lots of great clothes and things for less, or better yet, you can sell and exchange the old things you don’t want anymore too! My personal favourite is Plato’s Closet in Kitchener. They post great finds on instagram for the days you can’t go in to browse, PLUS it’s accessible by bus and not too far from school, talk about a win-win!

3. Shop DEALS. If you’d still prefer to shop new and off the rack instead, make sure to subscribe to your favourite stores email lists. This way you’ll be the first to know about great deals so you can still shop smart. Or, to take it to the next level – shop holidays only! Black Friday is around the corner and you know you’ll get the best deals then!


Starting to budget can be daunting, but it’s a tool that will help you forever – you can only get better at managing your money! Plus, with the holiday season fast approaching, it’s better to get ahead of the curve and start saving for the most wonderful (and expensive) time of the year. Let us know what you think, share this article on your social media – we’d love to hear about your own tips and tricks too!


Photo Credits: 12, 3

Hey! I'm Kim, an undergraduate Health student at the University of Waterloo. I am passionate about health communication and policies, and I love making information beautiful & fun to read in all disciplines. My hobbies include watching Netflix, reading fictional novels - especially teen drama (there's no age limit on twilight), and buying stationery that I never seem to use. I hope you enjoy the content I've worked on, feel free to connect with me and let me know your thoughts!
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