8 tips to manage your finances as a Douglas College student
by Emma Horsley, Associate Registrar, Student Success, Curriculum & Graduation
It is never too late to start learning to manage your finances, and the wonderful thing about Douglas is we have Student Success Advisors (SSAs) who can provide you with guidance and advice. Here are some favourite financial planning resources and top tips from our SSAs to help you manage your finances as a DC student.
1) Create a budget and find tools that help you stay on track.
Budgeting is an organized way of managing your money. It allows you to plan your finances based on what money is coming in and what is going out. There are a lot of great budgeting tools available. We like the Canada Student Budget Worksheet and Canada Budget Planner.
Once you have created a budget, find a tool that works for you to track your day-to-day expenses and help you stick to your budget. A simple paper and pen can work, but there are also great apps to help you track your spending. For example, Mint.
2) Reduce your costs and spend your money wisely.
By exploring your options, you can get better deals that will save you money. Small changes in your perspective and habits can result in big savings. Here are some ideas that may help you save:
- Look for eBooks or used textbooks.
- Take advantage of student discounts.
- Use the library (public libraries are open during Covid).
- Check your bills and try to pay them in full and on time so you don’t pay late fees, interest or penalties. Pay down your most expensive debt first.
- Negotiate better plans on banking fees and services like cell phone and internet.
- Review your budget and spending: What’s a necessity and what’s a nice-to-have? Factor in everything from rent, food and bills to clothes, shopping and entertainment.
3) Build your financial knowledge and ask questions.
It’s never too late to learn key principles that will help you build your financial knowledge. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your bills, bank statements, loan documentation or tuition payments. It’s ok if you don’t understand something – seek out experts who can help, and check out some of our favourite online resources to build your knowledge: Managing your money and Money Tips and Tools.
4) Be aware of phishing and online scams.
One important part of building your financial literacy is knowing how to protect your money and yourself from fraud. Be aware of fraudulent texts or emails claiming to be from government or financial institutions. No government or bank agencies should be asking for your personal details by text or email. If somebody reaches out to you about free money, a prize or award, be suspicious. Ask questions and do not share your passwords or personal information with anyone. This is a great website for reviewing existing frauds and provides helpful tips on how to identify them.
5) Understand your Student Loan options.
The federal and provincial governments operate a variety of student loan programs to provide financial assistance to post-secondary students. The purpose of these loans is to supplement your financial resources, and you must start paying them back six months after you finish school. Student loans also have lower interest rates than bank loans or personal credit lines. We encourage you to apply for full-time or part-time student loans two months before your term starts. The latest you can apply, with all the required documents, is 6 weeks before your study term ends. This website is a great resource to learn more.
6) Take advantage of the ‘free’ money available to students.
There are several funding options that do not need to be paid back. Government grants and scholarships are available for Canadian students, and the Douglas College Bursary program is currently open to all students. Consider also exploring external award and scholarship opportunities that exist at Douglas, and in your own communities.
We highly recommend you look into the benefits available to you as a student. For example, your DSU Health and Dental program, the UPASS (available if you’re enrolled in courses on campus) and other student programs like the Student Price Card (SPC).
7) Have a goal and plan how to achieve it.
Setting and defining your goals, and tracking your progress, can help you achieve your objectives. Use the Program Guides and myPath to plan your academic goals, and a Financial Goal Calculator for financial planning.
Your Student Success Advisor is a great resource to support you with planning your goals. Reach out to them to book an appointment. Every Douglas College student has recently been assigned to an SSA. If you do not know who your SSA is, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out!
8) Know where to go for additional help.
Regardless of how much planning we do, unforeseen financial circumstances sometimes come up. If you find yourself in a difficult financial situation and require a bit of extra help, consider reaching out. Douglas College has support through the DSU Emergency Food Bank and the DC Emergency Fund. Contact your Student Success Advisor to learn more.