Budgeting for the Academic Year
As each new school year begins, it is important for students to evaluate their financial situation and prepare a financial plan that will cover their costs during the academic year.
Budgeting is about understanding the difference between income and expenses. To budget effectively, a person must realize the difference between the amount of resources available to them (earned or saved) and the total cost of their essential expenses. Suggest that your student visit McMaster University’s Office of Student Financial Aid & Scholarship’s website to try their online interactive budget builder and play the online budgeting game… Budget BONANZA. Both contain tips and advice to help students build a budget and make wise choices to get them through their academic year.
An effective budget will balance expenses with resources. If a student’s expenses exceed resources, the student must immediately formulate a reasonable plan to either decrease expenses or increase income.
Share these ideas with your son/daughter to assist him/her in balancing their budget.
Tips for Decreasing Expenses
- Clip store & manufacturer coupons to save on the cost of grocery and personal items. Read advertising flyers to search for the best deals on items.
- Stick with BASIC services. Avoid expensive elaborate options for cable, TV, & telephone service.
- Reduce minimum monthly required payments by using credit cards only in emergency situations.
- Use your student bus pass. A great alternative to spending money on gas & parking.
- Carpool with friends if commuting.
- Eat nutritious meals at home instead of splurging on meals at a restaurant. (e.g. You can buy a whole bag of bagels that will last you one week for the same cost as purchasing one bagel at your local donut shop. Those daily coffees can add up too! Make coffee at home to take with you on the go.)
- Purchase used textbooks.
- Pay student account and other bills on time to avoid unnecessary interest charges.
- Look for 'student discounts' offered by many merchants.
- Return library books on time to avoid unnecessary late fees.
Tips for Increasing Income
- Work part-time. Apply for a workstudy job on campus.
- Search for external scholarships & bursaries… http://sfas.mcmaster.ca/search/scholsearch.htm
- Ask family, friends or neighbours if you could help them with additional chores for a fee.
- Apply for a McMaster bursary.
- Apply for OSAP and/or visit a counselor if OSAP eligibility is not at maximum level to discuss available appeals.
- Apply for a student line of credit at your financial institution. (Although this increases your current resources, a line of credit represents additional debt overall and not additional income so use it wisely!)