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Tips for staying on budget in college

Tips for staying on budget in college

Heading off to school is exciting. For the first time in your life, you are given true independence. However, this newfound freedom comes with a lot more responsibilities.

Post-secondary education is expensive. There’s the cost of tuition, books, housing, food, etc. It can be difficult to manage all these costs on a limited budget, especially if you’re just learning how to manage your money.

Today we’ll be providing several ways you can save money while in school, so you don’t exceed your budget.

Track your spending

In order to stay on budget, you must track your spending. Thankfully, there is a multitude of ways you can do so. Downloading a personal finance app like Mint allows you to stay on top of your spending from virtually anywhere. It even sends you tips to maximize your money every day and alerts when you’re getting dangerously close to your budget limit.

If you’re not comfortable with an app you can record your spending in the notes section of your phone, in an Excel spreadsheet, or even in a notebook. Just remember to record your purchases shortly after you make them, so you don’t forget any.

Search for free events

You don’t have to spend money to have fun! There are countless free or low-cost events just waiting to be discovered. Check with your college or university and local municipality for free or low-cost events.

If none of the scheduled events capture your attention, grab some friends and orchestrate your own.

Grocery shop instead of dining out

While eating out is nice once in a while, doing so on a regular basis can become quite costly, especially on a student budget.

To save money, consider planning your meals ahead of time. Once you’ve made a meal plan you can then make an appropriate list and head to a nearby grocery store.

When grocery shopping, avoid overbuying, especially perishable items that tend to go bad quickly. Instead, purchase a mix of fresh and non-perishable food items. This saves you money while working towards eradicating food waste.

Shop deals, use coupons and price match

Searching for coupons and deals may not sound thrilling but doing so can save you quite a bit of money.

Whether you browse flyers to locate the top deals, search for coupons online, price match or all three, a little bit of time spent researching can offer big savings in the long run.  

Be cautious with credit

Credit cards are a big responsibility, especially for someone managing a budget for the first time. Before you choose just any credit card, do some research to determine which one is best suited for your needs. Just remember to be mindful of annual fees and high-interest rates.

Once you have your credit card, remember to tread lightly. Keep track of your balance, pay your bills on time and never charge anything to the card if you don’t think you’ll be able to pay it back right away.


Crawford, Smith and Swallow has been providing debt relief solutions to the city of St. Catharines and the Niagara Region for over 75 years. Our professionals are dedicated to helping individuals regain control of their personal finances through debt consolidation. If you’d like more information from a Licensed Insolvency Trustee, contact us today.

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