Student Life

University Finance 101: budgeting tips that don’t involve slandering avocado toast

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


Shuffling from SGW to Loyola

Concordia students and staff raise money for student bursaries and scholarships

Students and staff of Concordia University participated in Concordia’s 27th annual Concordia Shuffle— a 6.5 km walk from the Sir George Williams campus to the Loyola campus aimed at raising money for student bursaries and scholarships.

Shufflers gathered at Loyola to be welcomed to the President’s Picnic. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

University spokesperson Chris Mota said over $78,000 and counting has been raised in pledges from this year’s shuffle. She added that it was “the best year for the shuffle.”

Concordia University News reported Concordians raised $65,000 during the shuffle for student bursaries and scholarships last year.

Shufflers arriving at Loyola campus. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

Participants can also bicycle, run or rollerblade during the shuffle, said Faye Corbin, a Shuffle volunteer and a member Concordia’s library staff. “This year we have a group of people who are using the Bixi [bikes], and [their group] actually donated bixis for the event,” she said.

Students must raise a minimum of $25 to participate, and for faculty and staff it’s $40, said Corbin. She added that people can gain sponsorships from family, friends, professors or even by sponsoring themselves.

Shufflers pose at the President’s Picnic. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“With the minimum sponsorship, they get the shuffle kit, which [includes] a T-shirt. This year, it also [comes with] sunglasses with a few passes to restaurants, yoga and Le Gym,” said Corbin.

At the end of the walk, participants were welcomed with the “President’s Picnic” at the Loyola campus, where they were greeted with food and prizes.

Shufflers refuel after their 6.5 km from SGW campus to Loyola campus. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“We always try to do the best we can and surpass the previous years,” said Valerie Roseman, organizer of the 27th shuffle and development officer of community programs. She said there was no set goal for how much money the Shuffle aimed to raise this year.

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