How to take control of your finances

Five quick tips to manage your money

Learning to manage your money in university.
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With minimal education about financial literacy in high schools and universities, many students don't know where to begin when learning to navigate their finances as young adults. I’ve assembled a few tips to get you started on managing your finances responsibly and learning about financial literacy.

Create separate sections of your bank account for free spending and necessities

One of the simplest ways to stop worrying about money is to have a dedicated account for necessities. In my first few years of school, I pooled all my money into one chequing account and as the year went on, I got increasingly worried watching the number in my bank account drop. 

I recently learned that you can create a separate—and totally free—chequing account to put money for necessities, like food and rent and have another account for free spending. This way, I never worry I’ll run out of money for the basics, and I have a better gauge of how much money I can spend on non-essential purchases.

Pay off your credit card in full every month

Credit cards have really high interest rates if you don’t pay off your bill in full every month. Paying the minimum amount doesn’t count as paying off your monthly credit card bill. If you use a credit card, get in the habit of paying it off every month so you don’t have to pay more money in interest in the long run.

Failing to pay off your credit card every month can also amount to bad credit score. Having a bad credit score makes it harder to borrow money for things like mortgages when you get older, so it’s important to build as good a credit score as you can. You can pay off your card balance easily using online banking or even set up automatic payments. 

Don’t compare your financial situation to those around you

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never told any of my friends about my financial situation. Likewise, my friends have never told me what’s going on with their finances. We need to stop coveting what the people around us have because we have no idea whether they can afford it or not. 

We have to be honest with our own financial situation instead of comparing ourselves to others. 

Setting the example for saying “no” to extra expenses may also help those around you feel comfortable saying “no” too. 

Create an emergency fund

If you have an emergency fund, when unprecedented situations arise you won’t have to go into debt to pay them off.  Unexpected costs have the potential to be the little shove that can send someone spiraling into debt. 

Creating an emergency fund will give you a buffer, so when unforeseen circumstances surface, you have money set aside to pay the expenses. Like your money for essentials, your emergency fund can also be a separate
chequing account. 

Find resources to help manage your finances

Our culture has a money taboo that prevents young people from learning about finances. A great way to start bridging this gap is to find local classes and workshops where you can learn the basics and ask any questions you have about money. 

For students living in Kingston, the Peer Health Educators Financial Literacy Team runs workshops for students about various financial literacy topics relevant to students. In addition, the Kingston Frontenac Public Library holds financial literacy events throughout the year.

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