Top 10 Money Tips Before Heading off to College or University

Photo of five young adults working together around a table and laughing.
  1. Stay on top of your finances by using all channels to access your money while you’re away from home: KCU online banking and the mobile banking app for day to day transactions and account balances, chat for any questions you may have, and the Exchange Network ATM locator app to help you avoid unnecessary withdrawal fees. Finally, don’t forget that the Breakfree package includes unlimited Interac transactions. 
  2. If you take out a student loan to help pay for school, don’t let it give you a false sense of being flush with cash. If you don’t have a plan to repay the loan within a reasonable time, school debt can hang around for years and delay your ability to start saving for other “grown-up” goals, like a down payment on a house, a vacation or retirement.
  3. Use a high interest savings account or a KCU Redeemable Investment Certificate to hold your school funds from all sources (Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) withdrawals, scholarships or bursaries, loans, savings, etc.)
  4. Create a budget for the one-time, upfront costs of setting up your dorm room or off-campus apartment. You may need bedding, toiletries, a laptop (if you don’t already have one), extension cords and power bars, speakers and headphones, laundry and cleaning supplies and storage containers, just for starters!
  5. Create a budget for ongoing expenses like tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board (residence or off-campus), entertainment and recreation, and transportation. Monitor your budget closely using tools like YNAB or the KCU spreadsheet. Remember that budgets are flexible, so if you overspend in one category, try to cut back in another. But keep in mind that some expenses, like rent or tuition, are fixed.
  6. Create a monthly pay day for yourself by transferring money each month from your savings account to your chequing account to cover your budgeted expenses.
  7. Don’t sucumb to credit card offers unless you’re very disciplined and know how to use a credit card responsibly. If you want a credit card for convenience or for emergencies, get a low limit and pay off your balance each month.
  8. Try to avoid debt, especially high interest credit card debt. Tracking your spending and sticking to your budget are the best ways to bring more awareness and discipline to your spending.
  9. Look for ways to save money. Your tuition may include a public transit pass, which will be much less expensive than cabs or Uber®. You may be able to opt out of some tuition-related fees like medical or dental insurance, if you’re still covered under your parents’ plan (many full-time students under 25 are.) Rent textbooks instead of buying, or if you do buy, sell them when you no longer need them. Review your syllabus and ask other students if all the textbooks are actually necessary.
  10. To supplement your income, consider a part-time job. There are many job opportunities on campus, from markers and teaching assistants, to servers at the campus pub, that offer flexibility for students. Not only will a job generate extra money, but it may also help you learn time management skills, provide a change of focus from your school work, be a great networking and skill-building opportunity, and also lead to positive references for future employment.

 Want to talk to us about your particular needs? We’re here to help. Visit a branch, call our contact centre or chat with us.

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