During your post-graduate course in Canada, you will most likely be thinking of your plan of action after you graduate; whether it is continuing studies as a PhD candidate, working full time, or getting another Master’s degree. And of course, finances will be at the back of your mind too. Many students find that jobs are difficult to get without prior experience, and entry-level salaries often come up as less than expected. To help get your finances in order, there are some financial steps you can take during your post-graduate course –
Plan a budget
Usually when you are creating a budget for the year, you cover the big items – tuition, room and board, text books. Many students fail to include the smaller things which add up significantly. While it is difficult and almost impossible to include every single future purchase in your budget estimate, think about an average day in your life and predict what you end up spending on. Do you own a vehicle? Factor in maintenance, fuel, insurance, and parking fees. Maybe think of using public transport on certain days to save on fuel by getting a monthly pass for all areas of the city.
Have a look at your current phone plan. Are you using enough of the given call/SMS/data quotas to justify continuing the plan? Maybe cheaper options for similar quotas have been introduced in other networks, so it’s best to shop around for the best options. The same applies for cable – if you watch a lot of TV, it might be more economical to just get a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription.
And finally, the part where the budget stretches the most is for food and entertainment. It’s easy to splurge on food, movies, concerts, museums, and all that the city has to offer. Try to follow a strict budget but do keep room for emergencies and last-minute plans.
Manage your cards
Once you open a bank account in Canada, you’ll receive a debit card to use immediately. You’ll also get many offers on credit cards for students. Although it may seem like a logical step to obtain a credit card after you get a debit card, watch out for the terms and conditions that come with the offer. Many banks offer no minimum amount in the bank account but charge a high late payment fee; others may charge high interest as well. In addition, it’s easy to overspend when you’re just swiping a card and not thinking about cash – if you’re not careful, you may reach the end of your monthly budget in just 15 days.
Whether it is a part-time gig as a librarian during the school term, or a summer job as a research assistant, earning extra money during your degree is always good for the long term. It will give you an idea of how to manage your expenses and savings according to your salary.
Don’t ignore student loans
while many banks offer low interest rates and payment plans to match your income and background, you should still have a long-term plan on how to repay them in time, as interest accumulates.
Find ways to have fun on a budget
Instead of having dinner with friends at a fancy restaurant, offer to hold a potluck at your house, or organize a movie night! It’s definitely much cheaper than going out and you can spend quality time with your friends as well. In addition, you’ll find plenty of cheap and free activities to do around your residence, university, and city. Join student clubs and check out local museums, art galleries, beaches, and hiking trails for a diverse range of fun activities on a budget.