Tips for managing finances at university

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Course work is not the only lesson students have to learn at university. Managing finances can be equally as challenging as other areas of study.

Now that tuition is paid and September is over there are still many months left of the school year. Budgeting the money from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), job earnings and RESP funds can be a tricky balancing act.

“Being off campus it’s hard to balance spending for car insurance, gas money, free time spending and food purchases. Also, having to consider saving money for next terms tuition and books is tricky too,” said Jade Weaver, a first-year Kinesiology student.

These tips may help with navigating those tricky finance issues.

There are tools available to assist with budgeting, such as apps that can provide visual guidance in order to see where funds are going. Some apps track spending, others offer virtual envelopes that track moneys taken out and other apps allow for listing personal monthly or weekly allotment of funds that the user allocates to specific areas, such as phone payments or groceries.

There are money lending sources available as well.  A word of caution on money lending sites with high interest rates, be sure to read the fine print and know what the terms of the agreement are.  Ask another person to help when investigating this option. If money lending doesn’t feel right for you then avoid these services.

If students find themselves short on cash there is also the option to find a part time or full time job through Career Zone. They have job postings for students at  Look for job fairs around St. Catharines as well. Landmark Cinemas will be holding a job fair on Sunday November 4, 2019 at 9:00 a.m.

Student Accounts and Financial Aid (SAFA) also offer advice on money management.

“Establish your needs versus wants, create a budget, track your spending and stick to your budget.  Watch your spending on food and groceries, shopping and entertainment,” said Audrianna Kervoelen, a student financial services officer at SAFA.

Other tips from Kervoelen include preparing meals instead of dining out, applying for scholarships and bursaries and awards through OneApp and shopping using coupons or a money saving app.

Budgeting does not come easily to many people and it takes a little practice to make it work.

“Managing money is a skill, not an inherent talent. Make sure you take time to establish good spending habits and remember small purchases add up. The goal is to create a money-saving habit,” said Kervoelen.

OSAP may not cover educational expenses, especially with the recent cuts, so managing money, making wise choices in spending and supplementing with other forms of income will help keep finances in check.

SAFA hosts financial drop in sessions to answer questions about OSAP, scholarships, budgeting and other topics. Sessions run every Thursday from Sep. 26 to Dec. 5, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Plaza building room 410.

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