How fast and high do the bills stack up? When you are living away from home, it becomes abundantly clear that there are lots of things you need to buy as a student. Here are a few ways to keep your expenses in check.
Cell Phone Plans – It Pays to Shop Around
Do not purchase the first plan you see. Do research online for the best cell phone plan to suit your needs. Only pay for the features you need and monitor your cell phone use, minutes, and data to be sure you are not going over your limit. Exceeding your allotted data can easily double your bill each month.
Eat In, Don’t Eat Out
Eating out in restaurants is one of the first culprits in runaway expenses. Eat home cooked meals with your homestay family, and pack your own lunch and snacks. Drink water and stay away from the pop machines. In Burnaby, the tap water is clean and tested to high standards. Buy a reusable water bottle, and do not waste money on buying bottled water. (This also means you are not adding to landfill waste with yet another disposable plastic water bottle.)
Shop Sales and Check Out Flyers and Online Ads
If there is something you need, from clothing to a new iPad, it pays to shop around. Check the circulars in the Burnaby Now newspaper to see which stores are having sales on which products. Research before you shop. Generally, back to school clothing in September is expensive. Try and wait until you’ve been in school for at least a month before you blow your budget on clothes. Bonus: after you’ve been in school for a month or so, you will see what styles all the other students are wearing. As an international student, you may not know what the trends are. Many students like to “fit in” with the crowd. Don’t rush your back-to-school clothes shopping!
Starbucks: A Little Cash Adds Up Fast
While going with your pals to Starbucks and other coffee houses may be a fun and trendy thing to do, nothing eats away at a budget faster than going out for expensive designer coffee drinks on a regular basis. A grande macchiato at Starbucks is more than five dollars, and purchasing these types of beverages daily, or several times a week, can really add up. If you must go to Starbucks to meet friends, do so infrequently, and stay away from the fancy beverages. Meet your friends at one of Burnaby’s many cheaper coffee shops, or at Metrotown, or, in fine weather, at one of Burnaby’s many beautiful parks instead.
Keep It All in Check
It will help you stick to your budget if you input your expenses on a spreadsheet or a financial tracking app to see where your money is going. If you notice most of your disposable cash is going towards eating out, you can adjust your behaviour with more home cooked meals and snacks. Sensible budgeting will give you the tools you need to make informed choices as a Burnaby student!