How COVID-19 reshaped my student finances

The pandemic is the time to save

COVID-19 has disrupted student work.
In the middle of March, I lost three jobs in the span of 24 hours. One moment I was employed and living comfortably, hanging out with my friends near St.Patrick’s day—in the next, I was living through one of the most bizarre events I could’ve ever thought possible, my world uprooted. 
I know that I’m far from alone in my financial struggles caused by the pandemic. Throughout the summer months, I watched my friends struggle alongside me—even my family was affected when my father lost his job unexpectedly. 
No one’s life has escaped the pandemic unscathed. COVID-19 has altered everyone’s aspirations and forced people to re-evaluate their life plans. 
At the beginning of 2020, I wasn’t planning on returning to Queen’s for a fifth year. I was set to graduate and wanted to start saving money to put towards my dream of moving abroad. But when COVID-19 hit Canada, I found myself going  down a path I never planned on taking. 
I decided that, in the grand scheme of things, taking a fifth year wasn’t a bad idea. In the midst of a global economic crisis, being in school is one of the financially safest places I could be. I cannot stress enough how grateful I am for the creation and distribution of CERB and CESB—even for someone like me who’s worked nonstop since I was 16 years old, I still wasn’t financially prepared to lose my sources of income so suddenly. 
I can’t help but worry that come tax season, I will be heavily taxed because of CERB. I don’t think I am the only one who is conscious of the fact that the government’s support could come back to haunt me in the future. 
This is why I’m saving every single penny that I can—now more than ever. 
The pandemic has forced me to be more financially responsible, and the uncertainty of the future has been a strong motivator to start keeping a budget. As a student, it’s important that I prioritize basic needs over luxuries, especially now that, with strict provincial guidelines back in place, my employment is once again uncertain. This year, I even chose to forego student loans and opt to only accept grants through OSAP. 
These past few months have taught me the importance of balancing my funds. Keeping a social life can get expensive, but if there’s any silver lining to these strenuous times, it’s that my friends and I have discovered inexpensive and innovative ways to make the most out of life in the middle of a pandemic. 
After all, you can’t put a price on happiness—but you sure can budget it. 

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