How to Handle Finance – Budgetting for Students in Canada
Every year, Canada welcomes several hundred thousand students who arrive with aspirations of graduating from some of the world-renowned schools and universities located across its various provinces. As of the end of 2021, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reported that over 600,000 international students were pursuing their studies in Canada with valid study permits.
International students face many financial challenges, including the high cost of living in Canada, the need to adapt to a new culture, and the difficulty finding affordable housing. To avoid debt, it is important for international students to budget carefully and seek financial assistance from their school or government programs.
As international students, budgeting offers several advantages:
- Self-education: Budgeting provides valuable insights into your spending habits, allowing you to identify and cut unnecessary expenses.
- Monitoring and tracking: It helps you maintain control over your finances and acts as a roadmap toward achieving financial independence.
- Future readiness: It ensures you have a financial plan in place to handle unexpected events, significant purchases, or life-changing moments.
Mastering Student Finances: A Three-Step Guide
Step 1: Create a Clear Financial Picture
First things first, let’s get a handle on your income sources and expense categories. This initial step offers invaluable insight into your student spending habits and lays the groundwork for effective financial planning. Categorize your expenses into key areas such as education, housing, communications, food, transportation, clothing, medical, and more. This method brings your expenses into sharp focus, ensuring a well-organized approach to your financial management and keeping you on course to meet your financial goals.
But don’t forget to consider the significant expense categories:
Accommodation: As an international student, the choice between on-campus and off-campus housing has its pros and cons, with cost being a critical factor. Expenses can vary depending on the type of arrangement, whether it’s a shared room on campus, a single room, living with roommates, or residing with family off-campus. You can find precise costs for on-campus options and approximate figures for off-campus alternatives on your college or university’s website. Remember to budget for furniture and household items if they aren’t provided.
Food and Groceries:
Allocate a budget for groceries, typically ranging from $150 to $250 per month. If you plan to dine out or order food occasionally, set aside about $30 to $50 (plus tip) for each meal. Living on-campus may offer meal plans from your institution, which can help save money and time on grocery shopping or cooking.
If you’re considering owning a car, be aware that insurance costs for international students tend to be on the higher side due to limited or no North American driving experience. In some cases, insurance expenses may even surpass the costs of renting or leasing a vehicle.
Phone and Internet:
Telecom services in Canada can be pricier compared to your home country, so research and gather information before selecting a new phone plan or internet connection.
Over the Counter (OTC) and Prescription Medicines:
Unless you have private insurance covering medication costs, you’ll be responsible for these expenses, which can add up.Entertainment: Don’t forget to set aside a portion of your budget for entertainment, whether it’s socializing with friends after class or enjoying your favourite shows on Netflix.
Step 2: Calculate Savings (or Shortfalls) and Optimize Your Finances
Next, subtract your expenses from your income to determine your savings or deficits. If you find yourself facing a deficit, this is an opportunity to identify areas where you can cut back and refine your spending. If your study permit allows part-time work, consider using your income to supplement your budget and boost your savings.
Look out for student discounts, like the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which offers various discounts and costs around $20. Some retailers provide 10-15% discounts on items when you show your student card.
Create shopping lists to stick to essential items and avoid getting distracted by tempting offers and freebies.
Step 3: Continuous Monitoring and Adjustment
Remember, budgeting is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. It’s essential to regularly review your income and expenses, ideally on a monthly basis, and make necessary adjustments to align with your real-life circumstances.
Keep an eye on your bank statements, credit card statements, and mobile banking app to gain insights into your spending habits.
As you embark on your academic journey in Canada as an international student, it’s important to remember that navigating the financial landscape may require some adaptation. Fortunately, with the right information and resources at your disposal, you can set yourself up for success not only in your studies but also in your professional and financial endeavours. At SPS Canada Immigration, a trusted firm with over 22 years of experience assisting students in their migration to Canada, you’ll find the support and guidance needed to make a smooth transition. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, visit our website at www.spscanada.com or give us a call at 9586226232.
As the saying goes, “well begun is half done,” and with the expertise of SPS Canada Immigration, you’re off to a strong start on your Canadian educational journey.
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