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Money-Saving and Budgeting Tips as a Student

Hello everyone! My name is Anushka, I’m in my third year of the Biology and PNB program, and I’m the Social Logistics Coordinator for the Life Science Society this year!

We can all recognize that university is expensive - between tuition, books, living costs, and perhaps even the commute, there seems to be no way around it. This also happens to be a time in our lives where we begin to want to start saving and investing, which feels like a really tall order. Fear not though, because here are some relatively feasible tips to help you save money as a fellow student!

1. Find scholarships and grants, then apply, apply, apply!

As students, tuition costs often end up being some of the most significant ones incurred. One of the best ways to save money here is to find scholarships and grants to help cover these tuition costs, and perhaps even other expenses. There are many different types of scholarships and grants available that are awarded on merits ranging from academic achievement to community involvement, so do your research to see what you are eligible for. You can start by checking out Mosaic’s own dedicated AwardSpring section, which has numerous scholarships and grants that you can apply for all in one place, and then doing some more research on sites like Scholarships Canada. Additionally, having your updated CV and a generic cover letter outline that you can modify for each application prepared can significantly cut down the time it takes to apply. While scholarships and grants can often be quite competitive, the key is to keep applying and not giving up!

2. Cut costs on everyday expenses

There are plenty of ways to cut costs on everyday expenses as a student. For instance, while it might be really tempting to pick up a drink from Starbucks or Tim Horton’s whenever you walk through MUSC, it’s a lot more economical to buy a pack of coffee or tea and bring a thermos with this homemade drink to campus with you. Taking public transportation instead of driving (especially with the current gas prices 😓) and buying used textbooks instead of new ones are also some great ways to cut costs. Also, keep an eye out for back-to-school sales, promotions, and coupons for your favourite stores - the MSS Card is a great way to save at some popular close-to-campus locations! Every little bit can go a long way, so always make it a point to save whatever you can on your daily expenditures.

3. If possible, get a part-time job!

If you happen to have some free time, consider getting a part-time job at the start of the academic year (or semester) to help offset the costs of living as a student. You can work in a variety of places, from retail stores to restaurants or grocery stores, or even online. The campus also has several jobs that you can apply for, and these can be found on Mosaic under the Career Opportunities tab. There are several opportunities available, so if you have the capacity for it, you can try to find one that works best for you and your schedule. A part-time job is also a great way to gain experience to put on your résumé for future endeavours!

4. Take advantage of student discounts!

Many businesses offer student discounts, so be sure to take advantage of them wherever you can! These include discounts on clothing, food, travel and more. For instance, Fortinos and Food Basics offers a 10% student discount on Tuesdays if you present your valid student ID at checkout, as does Shoppers Drug Mart on Thursdays. The MSS Card, which is something all Faculty of Science students are eligible for, and the SPC Card are also great ways to get discounts at common locations! It also never hurts to ask store employees, either when you go to checkout or otherwise, if they have any ongoing student discounts or promotions!

5. Create a budget

One of the best ways to save money while in school is to create a budget, and more importantly, stick to it. Figure out and track how much money you have coming in and going out each month, then adjust what you’re budgeting for as needed. This will help ensure that you don’t overspend and end up in debt. For instance, if you know you have $500 in monthly expenses but only $450 in monthly income, then it’s time to find ways to either cut costs or bring in more earnings. Creating a budget, whether that be on paper or on software like Google Sheets, is a great way to visually keep track of your finances and make sure that you are making the most of your money.

Saving money in university can be challenging, but barring extenuating circumstances, it is very much possible. With a little bit of discipline and planning skills, and following the above-mentioned tips wherever possible, you can minimize your expenses and maximize your savings, ensuring as financially successful an academic year as possible!

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