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When I was a student, I never thought much about my finances. Sure, I had a part time job which gave me some spending money, but I didn’t think long-term. Looking back now, I realize that if I had the right foundation in place as a student, things would have been a little easier once I graduated.

I’m not talking about saving a ton of money, investing, or getting a high-paying job right away. I mean simple things that anyone can do right now. These five tips will put you on the right financial path.

Money tips every student needs to know

Make a budget

It doesn’t matter how old you are; you should always have a budget in place. Sure, as a student, you won’t have much income, but you still need to know where all your money is going. Take your income and subtract all your expenses. As long as you’re not in the red, you’ll be in good shape, but don’t forget to budget for savings.

If your expenses are more than your income, then it’s time to make some cuts. Take a look at all of your spending and start figuring out what needs to go.

Use credit responsibly

I always recommend students get a credit card; it’s the best way to build a good a credit score. Having a good credit score is important if you ever need to borrow money in the future (for a home or car). Lenders will want to know how creditworthy you are, and that’s determined by your credit score.

Making sure your credit score is in good shape is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is make purchases with your credit card like you normally would, and then pay your bills on time. Obviously, paying your bills in full is the best thing to do since you’ll avoid any interest charges, but at the very least, make the minimum payments since it won’t affect your credit score.

Pick the right credit card

Choosing the right credit card is something you should take pride in doing. Instead of signing up for a random credit card in the grocery store for free cookies or in the subway for a free T-shirt; look for a credit card that benefits you directly.

There are many student credit cards out there including the BMO SPC MasterCard which has no annual fee. Not only will you earn 1% cashback on all purchases with the card, but you’ll also be eligible for additional SPC discounts at hundreds of retailers and restaurants across Canada. Again, always pay your bills on time, rewards are never worth if you’re paying interest for them.

Build your emergency fund

An emergency fund may not sound important as a student, but it’s one of those things you should always have just in case. Usually, you would want to put aside 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses in the event of an emergency, but as a student, that might be a bit tough. A more realistic number is $1,000.

Just make sure you’re not spending your emergency fund on random things like going out. This money should be saved for real emergencies like if your laptop died. You don’t need to save all that money at once, start by putting aside $25 every paycheque. It may not sound like a lot, but your savings will quickly grow.

Understand the resources available to you

If you’re ever struggling with your finances, don’t panic; there might be some resources available to you. Your student financial aid office is a good place to start as they can tell you about any grants or bursaries that you may qualify for. They might also be able to defer some of your payments if you have a legit reason. Just seek them out so you can find out your options.

Your bank can also help you with your day-to-day banking. At any branch, a rep should be able to set you up with a student account and student credit card that has no fees. Don’t forget, all BMO customers get exclusive extra deals through the SPC app for iOS and Android.

If you require additional financial assistance, you could also ask your bank about a student line of credit, but only do this after you’ve looked into the provincial and Canada student loan programs.

Final word

Being a student is tough, start practicing good financial habits now and you’ll hopefully be stress-free later. For more student money tips, check out this video I shot with BMO.


1 Comment

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