Minding your money 

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A cartoon drawing of a person looking at their bank account summary on a mobile app. There is a big question mark where their face should be.
Once again it is time to review how much money I do not have that has been spent on things I did not need. Lee Lim

Watching expenses is hard, but worth it

by pall agarwal, contributor

Budgeting as a student can be difficult, especially when you do not know how. A lot of students face this issue during their university life and eventually see themselves drowning in debt. But there are different ways one can save money and manage it well as a student. The most fundamental element of budgeting is keeping track of money.  

We often struggle in knowing where and how much of our money is being spent. Keeping track of all the money that comes in and goes out is the basis of budgeting. This can be done electronically through bank applications or manually through apps like Money Manager, Wally, Goodbudget, etc. They not only classify your expenses into different categories, but also show you via graphs and charts the cash flow projections observed till date. We are often drowned with assignments and other commitments, and struggle with keeping regular track of our finances. It is essential to have a biweekly or monthly check of expenses through bank statements.  

Moving on, as students, we do have one weapon in our hands – student discounts. We can make use of these through various channels, like in some online shopping, or discounts through Unidays, ISIC, etc. Places all over Canada have offers for students, typically to attract the younger crowd. Thus, using it to our advantage is one of the best ways to get through student life thriftily.  

It is a good habit to first understand the difference between needs and wants. This can give us a lot of clarity in our purchases. Before making a purchase, it is essential to take a step back and think whether that element is actually a need or want. This drives all our purchasing decisions. We find it easier to spend on objects than on experiences, whereas those experiences are the more essential elements that can give one the actual taste of life. So, you might be thinking whether saving up for a skydiving trip is better than the Nike shoes that you have had your eyes on. Well, the choice is yours.  

As students, we often spend a lot of money away from home on fast food and coffee. Maybe it is time to change those habits and build the discipline to cook more often at home to save that extra buck? It doesn’t seem much at the moment, but when compounded over a year or so, it can definitely add up to a significant amount.  

It all eventually boils down to one’s capacity to rethink and adjust accordingly. Budgeting and saving can be both exhausting and enticing at the same time, if done right. Start with small decisions like “Should I go to Tim’s today or wake up earlier and make my own coffee?” This could be all it takes to start, while being mindful to not overwhelm oneself with too many changes at the same time.  

The best time to start is now. Budgeting isn’t something fancy, it’s a basic life skill that gives one an edge. It makes things simpler and at the same gives clarity to all the possible expenses that can come in one’s life. Setting aside an emergency fund is another great place to start, so continue moving forward from there. Ask yourself this: is budgeting really impossible? 

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