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Saving and budgeting as a student

By Jillian Cung, October 29 2022

You have probably heard all the basics about budgeting, but as university students, many of us are financially vulnerable, making budgeting even more significant in our lives. Saving money as a student has become especially relevant due to tuition increases with the cost of living starting to become more than the average person can manage. Budgeting becomes even more important as we get into issues like inflation where the cost of living is skyrocketing, making it more difficult for university students in particular to cover all the costs that they need — especially if wages are stagnant. The concerning number of houseless people and, in particular, houseless students is illustrating the realities of a high cost of living.

Thinking wisely about your financial means is important, especially for expenses like groceries. However, what is the perfect balance between sticking to a budget without feeling overwhelmed with the cost of every purchase and buying what you need? Sometimes people get anxious about purchasing necessities because the money accessible to them is scarce. Since I started living on my own and was — unfortunately — no longer reaping the privileges of free-loading from my parents, I found myself feeling overwhelmed with how pricey necessities can be. One thing I have been doing heavily is reducing my meat consumption — my whole world feels preoccupied with beans, eggs and tofu. Since I started living on my own, I have been exploring low-cost simple vegetarian meals to help save on the expense of meat when I can. However, changing your diet to reduce costs is not feasible for everyone, especially with students that have pre-existing health conditions. 

Besides attempting to reduce their grocery bill, where else can students manage their budget wisely? It’s hard to reduce living expenses further than finding cheaper alternatives to groceries but some students have other things to consider like transport. In high school, I could borrow my parent’s car when I needed it, however, after living on my own I only had two options — purchase a car or learn to love public transit. I was blown away at the amount of money I was saving using public transit in comparison to purchasing a car, maintaining it and dishing out insurance fees. As students, we purchase a U-Pass through the university anyways so if using public transit does not cause any problems for you other than a learning curve — I think it’s worth giving it a shot. 

Living on your own is also mentally taxing — so mental health services are definitely a necessity so we do not all fall into the void of burnout. Some people prefer getting active while others prefer to relax with their favourite film. Do you love using the gym facilities but do not want to spend the extra money to get a membership? No worries — your U of C expenses already include an Active Living membership that you are not allowed to opt-out of. 

I hope these saving tips and tricks leave a bit more room in your wallet as the colder weather approaches us.

This article is a part of our Voices section does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.

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