Responsible Gambling Council
Sep 18, 2012
The start of a new school year brings about a lot of change: new courses, new friends, new schedule, new responsibilities. It also means additional expenses: tuition, books, utility bills, socializing, transportation, meals and more. It's easy to go through a lot of money—fast. Here are some tips to help you stretch your funds (and avoid a diet solely comprised of instant noodles your final month of the school year).
Track what you spend
This is an important first step. It's difficult to work out a money management plan without understanding your spending habits and really seeing where your money goes. Most people are surprised at how much they spend on little items (like coffee or snacks). Often just by simply tracking your expenses, you are able to adjust them and learn how to spend money wisely.
Make a plan
First, list sources of income such as scholarships, loans, money from summer jobs and cash from your parents and then list all your expenses. Once you've got that figured out, create a money management plan for what's left over and stick to it! Check out RGC's tips on creating a spending plan.
You might wonder why RGC has information about budgeting on our website. Money management is an important part of safer gambling. In fact, setting money limits is one of RGC's top safer gambling tips.
Be careful with credit cards
A good rule of thumb is not to put it on your card unless you absolutely have to. Credit cards are not ‘found money’ and it still has to be paid off! This kind of debt can be difficult to manage and once you get into the charging habit, it can be difficult to stop. If you’re going out to have fun, think about leaving your credit card at home. That will make it easier to spend only what you planned to.
You won't be able to go out every night or buy whatever you want. Prioritize and select the most important things. It's important to allocate money towards having fun and treating yourself, so make sure to factor it into you plan—but realize that you've got to be realistic.
Try to set aside a bit of money each month for larger, unexpected expenses including emergencies, road trips or even a newly-announced concert that you don’t want to miss.
The first step is to be aware of your spending habits. There are lots of ways of doing this, but you might consider using Spenz, a Ryerson University-developed money tracking app, to record what you spend.
And, if you stray off your money management plan and find yourself short on funds, don't beat yourself up. Ask for help! Like most things, money problems only get worse if you ignore them. So don’t be afraid to look into resources for financial aid or credit counseling.