Financial Advice to help make the jump from Living At Home To University Life a little easier.
With the start of the fall semester and in-person lectures returning to Concordia, this week not only marks the first time that many freshmen and sophomore students will be on a university campus, but also the far more important experience of leaving home for the first time. When the initial excitement of beginning university wears off, being faced with the challenge of having to be financially independent can be quite intimidating for many students.
As a fourth-year student, I remember how difficult the change was from living at home to suddenly having to “fend for myself.” I, like many of my peers, found myself in a sink or swim situation.
Something I wish I’d done sooner was applying for as many bursaries, scholarships, and grants as I could, as early as I could. This is something I wish I did sooner. Scholarships and grants are fantastic ways to mitigate the financial burden of tuition and can also help build up an emergency fund.
As well, it may be worth your time to do some research into specific scholarships and grants that may apply to you. POC and members of the LGBTQ+ community experience financial instability at a higher rate than the national average. Many Non-Government Organizations and bursary funds provide specific scholarships to students that are a part of marginalized communities, such as the Black Canadian Scholarship Fund, the Jeremy Dias Scholarship, and the RBC Royal Bank Scholarship for Aboriginals.
Students who are registered with the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities are also eligible to receive numerous grants and scholarships from both government and private institutions, such as the RBC Capital Markets Canada Pathways Diversity Scholarship Program and the Canada Student Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities.
First-year students should also be mindful of the transaction limit on their debit card. To stay within your transaction limit, use cash for day-to-day purchases and your credit card to finance larger expenses. While credit cards have no transaction limits, they do have a spending limit. Stay well below your maximum allowed and by paying your monthly balance on time no additional interest will accumulate on your credit. As well, the physiological impact of paying with cash causes a significant decrease in spending than paying with a card.
Another simple trick I recommend is uninstalling food delivery and ride apps from your phone. The added step of needing to reinstall these apps helped me to cut back on my spending and reduce my monthly credit card bill by almost 50 percent. Your billing information is saved to your account, so reinstalling these apps before a night out with friends or a date with your significant other is quick and easy.
Concordia itself has a number of great organizations dedicated to helping support students with their day-to-day financial expenses. Organizations like The People’s Potato vegan soup kitchen provide free lunches to all Concordia students every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12:30 and 2 p.m at the Henry Hall building in room H-700.00.
Whenever you can, buy your textbooks from the Concordia Co-op Bookstore instead of the Concordia Book Stop. The Co-op Bookstore also provides members with a discount on every subsequent purchase for a single upfront charge of ten dollars. For students studying in the humanities or in the fine arts, this upfront charge can typically be earned back in the money saved on required readings for just a single semester.
While money doesn’t buy happiness, financial stability provides freedom and opportunity that will have a profound impact on your wellbeing. It defines the difference between choosing to work versus having to work a part-time job during the school year. It provides the ability to leave a toxic and/or abusive living environment without having to worry about debt.
Financial means can grant access to resources like therapy and medication which, sadly in our capitalist society, become far harder to access without. It’s the ability to have your avocado toast worry-free and eat it too.
Disclaimer: This is not professional financial advice. Please consult your financial advisor to associate the risks involved.
Feature photo by Catherine Reynolds