Bowl of ramen noodles

It doesn’t just need to be ramen noodles

Money can be stressful when you’re a student but that doesn’t mean you need to live off ramen noodles. We sat down with Braden, a University of Saskatchewan student, to learn more about how he manages money while going to school.


We all know post-secondary education can be quite expensive. In the 2016-17 academic year, a Canadian undergraduate student paid, on average, $6,373 in tuition. And that’s not including the additional costs related to textbooks, school fees and living expenses.

When having the #MONEYTALK with students across the province, we heard over and over the challenge of managing money while going to school. What can a student do to reduce money-related stress caused by tuition and living expenses?

We recently sat down with Braden C., a 3rd-year University of Saskatchewan student and Conexus member, who told us how he manages money while being a student.

Tuition can be expensive. How have you been able to manage the costs of tuition?

My parents have helped me out greatly when it comes to paying for tuition. They’ve been putting money into an Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) since I was born, knowing I would need it at this point in my life. This has definitely relieved a lot of stress when it comes to paying for school.

That’s great to hear! What else can a student do to help cover the cost of tuition or save money for things such as textbooks?

Scholarships are a great way to reduce your tuition costs. There are many different scholarships available from the schools, local businesses, etc. It can take some time to apply but can be worth it in the end by offsetting some of the costs you need to pay.

When it comes to textbooks, a great way to save money is buying used. For example, the U of S has a program where you can sell your textbooks back to the store. Often you can find a used textbook at a lower price than a new book and from my experience, many of the used books look like new.

What about other expenses such as living costs – how do you make or save money for all of the additional expenses you face?

To allow me to focus on my studies during the school term, I only work during school breaks, such as the summer, and put the money I make into savings. I work as many hours as I can in the summer to provide enough money I’ll need for the eight months I’m in school. I know not everyone can do this, and some may need to work part-time while going to school, but I recommend putting as much as you can into savings during the off months so you can work a bit less during the school term.

Are there any tools you use to help you manage your money?

I use several tools including online banking and Conexus’ Personal Financial Management tool. It allows me to set budgets and track how much I spend relative to those budgets. Each month, I look at what I spent in the previous month and make decisions and changes based on what I think will be coming up in the next month. For example, if I know a band I want to see is coming, I adjust my budget so that I have some money set aside for entertainment. This may mean I don’t eat out a couple of times that month, but I’m also not going over my budget.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a student with your money?

My biggest challenges with money are probably in the area of groceries. When I know the upcoming week is going to be busy for me, I tend to buy foods that require little to no preparation. I have found, over the past three years, these meals are usually less healthy for me and also cost a little bit more than if I were to buy basic ingredients and make the meals from scratch. I also tend to impulse-buy things when I have cravings.

What tips do you have for other students that are needing to manage their money while going to school?

The biggest thing is to set a budget and track your spending. When you are able to see where your money is going, you can get a better understanding of your needs but also find areas where you maybe don’t need to spend so much such as eating out or buying coffee.

 

Thanks Braden! Money can be stressful when being a student but that doesn’t just mean you need to live off of ramen noodles. With a bit of understanding and planning, you can set goals, budget and take control of your finances. Here are a few more ways students can save money:

  • Taking advantage of school discounts. There are many places on campus as well as local businesses that offer students a discount by showing their student card.
  • Walking or taking the bus to school. You can save money on gas and parking!
  • Using loyalty reward program cards for places you shop at frequently. For example, Superstore has a PC Plus program that allows you to earn points you can use to take money off your next grocery bill – and it’s free.
  • When shopping for necessities such as groceries, make your meal plans based on what is on sale. Sometimes you may need to buy in groups, but then that just means you can use for another meal the next week.

What other tips do you have for managing your money while going to school? We’d love to hear them – share in the comments below.

woman looking into the distance

Getting out of the pay cheque to pay cheque cycle

Almost half of Canadians say they live pay cheque to pay cheque. Does this sound familiar? What is the secret to getting out of this pay cheque to pay cheque cycle?


A 2017 survey by the Canadian Payroll Association showed that almost half of Canadians say they live pay cheque to pay cheque. Here in Saskatchewan, 44% of employees agree and stated if their pay cheque was delayed by just one week, they’d have a hard time meeting their financial obligations. So what is the secret to getting out of this pay cheque to pay cheque cycle?

The answer… there is no secret or quick win when it comes to your finances. Everyone is different – the bills we pay, our rent or mortgage payments, the food we eat and the things we like to do – one solution that works for someone else may not work for you. In order to break the cycle, you must first determine your individual situation and develop a personalized plan from there.

“The biggest mistake people make with their finances is trying to do it alone,” said Krista Schmaltz, Manager Financial Services, Conexus Credit Union. “The most important thing you can do is talk with your financial advisor regularly. They’re experts in their fields and can help you create a personalized financial plan for success.”

Schmaltz also says in order to be successful in reaching your financial goal, you need to be open and honest when talking to your financial advisor. When it comes to your finances, there is nothing to be embarrassed about. By being honest with your financial advisor, and yourself, you are able to understand your finances better, allowing you to identify areas of strength and things that you may need to work on. You can then set goals and create an action plan to help reach those goals. Taking the steps to reach these goals though, will be on you.

Accountability is key in order to see results. It’s not just about saying you’ll do it but actually taking actions to break bad habits or changing behaviours. For example, if you’ve identified eliminating your morning coffee purchase from your routine as a way to save money, you must change your behaviours. To break the spending habit, consider making a to-go coffee every morning to take to work. Not only will you remove the temptation to stop and purchase a coffee, but you will also save money to put elsewhere within your budget.

When it comes to your finances, there is no one-size-fits-all solution or quick win. In order to see change, you must first be honest with yourself and your finances. You can then set goals and an action plan to help you reach your goals. Once set, hold yourself accountable to get results.

So what are you waiting for? Contact your financial advisor and start the conversation today!