Finance, Personal

10 Budgeting Tips For Students in Canada 2023

Being a student in Canada can be an exciting experience, but it can also come with financial challenges. 

Between tuition fees, books, rent, and daily living expenses, it can be tough to keep your budget in check. 

However, with a few simple tips and tricks, you can easily manage your finances and still enjoy all the amazing experiences Canada has to offer. 

Budgeting Tips For Students in Canada
Photo credit: Karolina Grabowska

Here are 10 budgeting tips that can help you stay on track and make the most of your student years in Canada.

1. Get Rid of Impulse Purchases

Impulse purchases can be a major roadblock to achieving your financial goals. 

As a student, you’re likely on a tight budget, and every dollar you spend on unnecessary items can be detrimental to your overall financial well-being. 

While it can be tempting to splurge on that latest gadget or impulse buy a new outfit, it’s important to resist the urge and stay focused on your budgeting goals.

One way to avoid impulse purchases is to create a shopping list and stick to it when you go to the store. 

Another tip is to give yourself a cooling-off period before making a purchase. If you’re unsure about whether you need an item, wait a day or two before making a decision. 

This can help you avoid the emotional attachment that often comes with impulse purchases.

2. Eat at Home 

Eating at home is much cheaper than eating out. Restaurants and cafes charge high prices for their food, which can quickly add up and consume your budget. 

On the other hand, preparing your meals at home is not only cheaper, but it also allows you to control the ingredients and quality of your food.

So in addition to saving money, eating at home can also help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. This can help you avoid unhealthy and processed foods that can hurt your health.

3. Spend With a Cashback Credit Card  

Cashback credit cards reward cardholders in the form of cashback on purchases made with the cards.

This means that students can earn rewards on the purchases they are already making, which can add up to significant savings over time.

Another benefit of using a cashback credit card is that it encourages responsible spending. 

You can track your spending by reviewing your credit card statements each month to identify areas where you may be overspending. 

Some of the best cashback for students in Canada include Students – BMO CashBack Mastercard and Scotiabank L’earn Visa Card.

4. Take Advantage of Student Discounts 

Student discounts are a great way for Canadian students to save money and stretch their budgets. 

Many businesses and services offer special deals to students, including discounts on food, clothing, entertainment, and technology. 

You can find student discounts at UNiDAYS, Studentbeans and Student Price Card (SPC).

You can also research online to find out which stores and services offer discounts in your area.

Many businesses will ask for proof of student status before offering a discount, so it’s important to always have your ID on hand. 

Another way to save money as a student is by using student-specific products and services. For example, many banks offer student accounts with lower fees, better interest rates and terms. 

Student discounts can also be found on travel and transportation. For example, many bus and train companies offer student discounts on tickets, and some airlines offer student rates on flights. 

READ ALSO: 10 Best Grocery Coupon Apps in Canada 

5. Save on Textbooks 

According to CBC, the average student in Canada spends up to $1,000 per semester on textbooks.

Fortunately, there are several ways to save on this cost. One of the most obvious ways is to buy used books. 

Used books are typically sold at a significant discount compared to new books, and they can be found at most university bookstores or online retailers. 

You should also consider renting textbooks instead of buying them. This can be a cost-effective way to access the materials you need without having to spend a large sum of money.

Another way to save on textbooks is to use electronic versions. Many publishers now offer digital versions of textbooks that can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a print book. 

Moreso, consider sharing textbooks with classmates or swapping books with other students. 

READ ALSO: 15 Best Household Items You Can Sell For a Quick Cash in Canada

6. Partner With Roommates

One of the best ways to save money as a student is by collaborating with roommates. 

This means that you work together to share expenses, such as rent, utilities, and groceries. 

You can also plan your meals with your roommate. Instead of each person cooking for themselves, you can plan meals that everyone can contribute to. 

This will not only save you costs but will also help foster a sense of community and make living together more enjoyable. 

It is important to be open and transparent when it comes to partnering with roommates. Ensure everyone is aware of the expenses and their responsibility.

7. Use a Budgeting App

A budgeting app helps you simplify the budgeting process and manage your money with ease.

One of the key advantages of using a budgeting app is that it allows you to track your spending in real time. 

With a budgeting app, you can set a budget for different categories such as groceries, entertainment, and transportation, and the app will automatically track your spending in those categories. 

A budgeting app also helps you automate transfers and payments. This ensures that your bills are paid on time and your savings grow hands-off.

Some of the top examples of free budgeting apps in Canada include:

  • Mint
  • Pocketsmith
  • Wally
  • PocketGuard

8. Save on Transportation 

With the increasing cost of gas, fuel and car maintenance, using your vehicle can drain your budget. 

To save money, consider using alternative modes of transportation, such as public transportation, biking, or walking.

Using public transportation, such as buses and trains, is often much cheaper than driving your car. 

Biking or walking is also a great way to save money on transportation. Not only is it good for your health and the environment, but it’s also cheap or free!

9. Take Advantage of Freebies

Another major budgeting tip for Canadian students is to look for freebies. 

With so many companies and organizations offering free samples, trials, and giveaways, you can save a significant amount of money as a student.

From free food and drinks to free samples of products, there are many ways to try out new things without having to spend a dime.

Additionally, many universities and colleges in Canada offer free access to gym facilities, libraries, student services, and events.

10. Find Part-Time Job

This will not only provide you with extra income, but it will also teach you valuable life skills such as time management, responsibility and work ethics.

Working part-time as a student will also help you build networks and connections that will help in your future career.

Many universities and colleges offer jobs for students, such as working in the library or working as a research assistant. 

Another option is to find a job off-campus, such as working in a restaurant or retail store. This type of job may pay higher than on-campus jobs, but it also requires transportation, which should be taken into consideration.

Other places you can find off-campus jobs include online job boards like Glassdoor, Indeed, and Monster.


Benefits of Budgeting For Canadian Students

There are many reasons why you need to budget as a Canadian student. Below are the major ones:

  • Live within your means: Living within your means will help you prioritize your expenses and ensure that you are not overspending on things that are not important.
  • Avoid debt: Debt is a common problem for many Canadians, including students. Budgeting helps you avoid debt by giving you a clear picture of your financial situation and expenses. 
  • Save: By creating a budget, you can see where your money is going and make adjustments to reduce expenses. This can help you build wealth over time.
  • Reduce financial stress: Budgeting can help you reduce your financial stress by giving you a clear picture of your financial situation. By knowing exactly how much money you have coming in and going out each month, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by unexpected expenses or bills.
  • Build good financial habits: Budgeting can help you build good financial habits by tracking your spending and making adjustments to reduce expenses. These habits can help you achieve financial stability and independence.

Final Thoughts 

Canadian students face unique challenges when it comes to budgeting, such as limited income and student debt. 

However, by following the above budgeting tips, you can effectively manage your finances and prepare yourself for a bright financial future.

By prioritizing expenses, monitoring spending, and utilizing various resources, you can reduce your financial stress and focus on your studies. 

As a student, you should start building an emergency fund from your budget savings to ensure you’re prepared for unexpected expenses.

With these tips and a little bit of discipline, you can turn your financial struggles into financial stability.

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About John Adebisi

John Adebisi is a CPA, FCCA and MBA holder with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting & Finance. He has over a decade of experience in writing personal and business finance content for audiences across North America, Europe, the UK and Africa. In addition to his writing experience, he also has a strong background in financial research and analysis, giving him a unique perspective of the financial markets. John derives pleasure in helping people make smart financial decisions, and he believes that knowledge and experience can be valuable resources for anyone who wants to learn how to manage their money.

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