A how-to on budgeting for the starving student

Credit: 
Sara Long

With a reputation for having an affluent student body, it may seem like you’re the only one at Queen’s trying to live within a budget. Fear not. Here are some simple ways to save those hard-earned dollars and keep your budget in check.

Tuition

This is the single most important part of your student budget. Lots of scholarships are available  through Queen’s and through third parties; scouring the Internet will be your best bet. Pro tip: certain Queen’s bursaries are available every year — they’re not just the entrance scholarships.

Plus, lots of scholarships through websites like yconic are offered outside of the typical August-October range so keep your eyes peeled! OSAP, which most Ontario students are eligible for, offers 30 per cent off tuition grants every year — meaning you don’t have to pay them back when you graduate.

Housing

Moving out of residence after first year presents you with one of your biggest opportunities to save money. Typically living with more people rather than less, and living as far from campus as you’re willing to, will lower your rent. Moving into an upper-year residence is always an option, but bear in mind that this may not be the most economical choice.

Textbooks and supplies

We all know how expensive textbooks can be. I’ll state the obvious: whenever you can, buy used versions of your books. Better yet, consider sharing a textbook with a friend. If you’re willing to share custody of a book you can effectively cut your costs in half. You’ll save even more if you do the same thing with a loose-leaf version or the e-book. Also keep a close watch on textbook-selling Facebook groups, especially in September — you may find someone selling second semester books for cheap just to get them off their hands.

Food

It may be tempting to visit food trucks every couple of days or so, but that’s one of the fastest ways to part with your money without even realizing how much you’re spending. Whenever possible cook your own food. Most supermarkets in Kingston, such as Metro, have a student discount day where you’ll score your groceries more 10 per cent off or more. 

Transportation

As heartless as it sounds, if you’re trying to save money, go home less. But if you’re a normal human and like to visit your parents once in a while, the Facebook group “RIDESHARE Queen’s University” is a great place to start for an inexpensive ride home. Bus tickets are also cheaper if you buy them as far in advance as you can.

Entertainment

Let’s be real, a university student’s budget isn’t complete until some money is allocated for a night out. Consider that when you drink, not only are you paying for alcohol, but usually also cover for whichever club or bar you end up at, overpriced and watered-down drinks from the bar and drunk snacks to end your night. 

If you’re not too picky, LCBO tends to carry lesser known brands of popular liquor for much less than the brands you’re used to buying.

Depending on what your deficit is, you’ll have to find different ways of being frugal. Living within your means can be incredibly difficult during the four years that are supposed to be “the best time of your life”, but following simple steps to keep track of your finances and not spending every dollar in your pocket, no matter how tempting, will save you and your wallet a lot of pain inthe future.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.