Student budgeting

How will you pay for your living expenses while you’re at school or training for a job? A budget is a tool that will help you plan and manage your finances.

Creating and following a budget lets you control your finances to meet goals like finishing your education. Many services, such as the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, offer advice to help you manage your expenses. You can also contact the financial aid office at your educational institution for budgeting advice.

Use these simple tools to help manage your money.

Use Your Budget

Create a realistic budget to see what you need to do.
  1. Add up your total income, including money you get from working, gifts from family, grants, student loans or other assets.
  2. Calculate your expenses for your school term. Include things like tuition, books, a computer, food and rent. StudentAid BC and the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada can help you estimate costs ranging from tuition to laundry.
  3. Subtract your total expenses from your total income.
    1. If you have leftover money, budget it for emergencies or optional expenses like entertainment.
    2. If you have a shortfall, look for ways to reduce expenses or get more money.
  4. Use a spreadsheet or expense tracking software to track your expenses and your income.
    1. Student expenses are irregular, because you need to pay for tuition, books and supplies all at once. After that, your expenses will be much lower. A spreadsheet makes it much easier to keep track.
    2. Monitor your balance weekly or monthly. If the money you have left won’t cover your remaining expenses, look for adjustments you can make.

Manage Your Costs

Adopt habits like these to reduce your costs and keep more money for the things you really need:
  • Reduce extras like daily coffee and eating out so they don't add up and throw off your budget.
  • Cut phone and transportation costs by switching to the minimum package that meets your needs.
  • Buy used books instead of new.
  • Use debit instead of credit. Pay off your credit card balance each month or use a low-interest credit card.
  • Switch to a student-banking package with no monthly fees and unlimited transactions.
  • Use student discounts and coupons for products and services on and off campus.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has more helpful tips.