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Growing Up is Hard to Do

Attending postsecondary school might be the first independent adult thing you’ll have to do, or maybe you’ve already done it. Either way, postsecondary school is the start of a new chapter in your life and that means you’ve already made one of the best and hardest decisions for your future. No matter your situation, setting goals can be a great way to understand what you need to gain from your experiences and can motivate you toward accomplishing your goals.

Once you understand what your goals are, prioritize them! Try to visualize what you want to achieve during your school experience and shortly after graduating. But, be realistic; your goals don’t have to be huge or finalized because the reality is, your goals will probably change after you earn your degree.

If you don’t know what your future is going to look like, always remember that your goals can grow. Consider growth as your path towards independence. One way you can become independent is by managing your finances. Being financially savvy will help you save money, so take this time to understand investing and establish your credit. Trust me when I say, this will significantly help you in the future.


woman holding tall stack of books
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Do You Even Coupon, Bro?

From spending money on student loans, fast food, Uber rides and cell phone bills, our parents are always warning us to save money. But, how can we when we can’t even make enough to pay our bills? These are some of my favorite money-saving strategies that were designed to help students succeed.

  1. Apply for scholarships, grants and bursaries – you’d be surprised at how much money schools try to give away.
  2. Let your family help you where they can – don’t be ashamed to mooch off your family as much as they will allow.
  3. Insurance and benefits – utilize the services provided by your institution that you pay for through your tuition, and inquire about removing payments for services you won’t use so that you can reduce your tuition cost.
  4. Use your student discounts – learn to be a bargain shopper! Make use of every place that offers student discounts but make sure their original prices are not inflated. Try to borrow or buy used textbooks (especially those with margin notes), find banks with free student banking, shop second hand, be conscious of your waste, and cut back where you can.
  5. Take advantage of free downloads – schools usually offer free downloads for a variety of writing, editing, and creating programs, so don’t miss out!

Do your best to save money where you can but remember that cheaper doesn’t mean better. For example, when it comes to things like student living and tenant insurance, make sure you are protected. Signing a tenant agreement can protect you from unethical treatment by your landlord and provide you with a rental history. Always look after yourself!


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Make Good Money Moves

There are a few things that every postsecondary student should do to start establishing their financial profiles and investing is high up on that list. Investing is often overlooked because of the high entrance fees and risks involved, but don’t worry because I have some tips that can help you overcome these barriers.

  1. Investing doesn’t have to be intimidating – if you don’t understand what investing is and how to do it, speak to a financial advisor (this service is free at most banks).
  2. RRSPs and TSFAs are your way in – these are great accounts for beginners investing. Keep an eye on them and use them to learn.
  3. Find the money – if you don’t have to spend all of your student loans, use it to invest.
  4. Don’t fall for investment traps – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Investing is all about making the right money moves. The sooner you get started, the better, because low-risk investments can take years to become profitable. If you don’t have a lot of savings, try saving some of your student loans. Don’t be afraid to pay low-interest rates to get started; if the returns are high enough, you can move money around to pay interest rates and still see a profit.


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Build Credit

Whether you’re just spending money on textbooks, lunch, gas or even cat litter, every student spends money from time to time. But just because you have the cash to pay for these items, doesn’t mean you should be paying for them right away. Credit cards can be a great way of deferring payments and establishing credit as long as you don’t get carried away. Being a post-secondary student has its perks, so learn what they are and how to use them.

  1. Never pay interest on a credit card – keep a low limit if you know you’re a spender and only charge to your card what you have in cash.
  2. Always make your minimum payments – once you receive your statement, set up your account to automatically pay your credit card a couple of days before the due date so that you can allow for processing.
  3. Postsecondary institutions usually have connections with banks – get an account with a bank that offers lower rates to students and other benefits like insurance discounts or cashback.
  4. Try to get a student line of credit – if you must hold a balance use lines of credit over credit cards. The interest rates are lower and you can often get a larger loan.

Credit doesn’t have to be bad as long as you learn how to use it. Be diligent in paying your bills, don’t overspend, and only accept as much credit as you can handle. Establishing two lines of good credit will help you qualify for a mortgage, a business loan or other future loans you may need.


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You’re in Control. Don’t Let Anything Hold You Back

Education is never a waste of money, so don’t delay going to school because you don’t have the cash. As you can see, there are a lot of ways to find and save money as a student. So, the sooner you start your education journey, the sooner you can progress in your adult life. 

Don’t forget student loans have low interest rates and low minimum payments. These are bills that you can hold on to and not feel guilty about paying interest on. Remember to make the right money moves! If your investments are averaging higher profits than the cost of interest on your loans, don’t worry so much about paying them off faster, just keep making your minimum payments.

Patricia is a fourth year Bachelors of Environmental and Urban Change student at York University. She enjoys getting into trouble with her friends, reading poetry, gardening, baking and spending cuddle time with her fur babies. Don't wake her up too early unless you have breakfast ready, she likes to sleep in and get a relaxing start to the day with fresh fruit, tea and a good stretch. Read her articles, you will enjoy them. :)
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