Point of Order – Tips to save money in University/College by Stéphane Groulx

Photo of Stephane Groulx -- JournalismCFN – Post-secondary can be an equally exciting but challenging time for students, especially on their wallets. This year as I begin my first year of a new program, I would aspire to live a far more minimalist lifestyle and attempt to save as much money as I can.

The following are some ways I plan on achieving this as well as tips for first year post-secondary students or anyone who would like to save money while attending a post-secondary institution:

– Do not purchase textbooks right away. If they are absolutely a must see if an older addition would suffice, and look for it used.

– Voluntarily open up a joint bank account with your parents and put all of the money which you plan on saving and/or using for school in it. It will act as a second opinion on your spending and if ever you may have financial problems, your parents may be able to forward you money; try to avoid that.

– If you have a computer and can take notes on it without getting distracted by social networking use that. There is no need for a giant binder that may cost you $3-5 each when chances are the Prof will barely give hand outs.

– If you are like me and don’t like taking your laptop to class, purchase notebooks on sale (I got mine for 30 cents per notebook) and keep well organized notes. Use a desk at home as your primary means of organization instead of separate binders

– Leave credit cards, and other bank cards at home in order to avoid useless spending. You don’t want your student loans, grants, line of credit, or savings to be tempted away by impulse spending. Only bring what you need

– Avoid donating to Student Union, they already get a decent chunk out of your tuition

– Live without TV for a while, most of what you can watch on TV you can get online.

– Avoid the Student meal plan and cook for yourself; it is cheaper


– If you want to take part in extra curricular, consider a part-time job. Do NOT rely on your loans and/or grants

– Do not get yourself a home phone. Your cell phone should suffice. Do not get swindled by the “student plans” some places advertise, just make sure the phone can do the minimum of what you need.

– Make coffee at home. Bring a thermos to school if you must.

– Purchase a reusable water bottle/container, do not purchase plastic ones regularly.

– Have an entertainment budget. If you are going out drinking and you are concerned of spending. Set a limit and space out your drinks with water (i.e. glass of whisky, glass of water, glass of whisky, continued)

– If you want to keep active, look to use the facilities at the school which access to is usually a part of your tuition. Do not purchase a gym membership to another place.

– Concerning housing, you do not have to necessarily live close to the campus. As long as your place is accessible to public transportation and you can afford to commute everyday it may end up being cheaper than living in a student neighbourhood (Ottawa example — Sandy Hill) when you could live with a bit of a commute. For uOttawa/Carleton students, in this particular case you could take wonderful advantage of your uPass.

– Be minimalist when it comes time to purchasing University merchandise. You don’t need a binder, t-shirt, sweatpants, hat, and sweater emblazoned with your University logo or mascot. Just a shirt will do.

– Meet a local and take your own tours. Do not spend good money for tours which can be done for free. For the tours which you can not do for free, set a spending limit.

– For food, do not go for the name brands, usually the no name brands are of similar quality and are significantly cheaper.

– Keep an eye out for research studies, they usually give out $20-100 for a couple hours of your time.

– Focus more on your studies, less on going out and partying. It may seem like a cliche thing to mention, but you are paying a lot of money to attend a post-secondary institution. Make it count, some people can not afford to attend, and may have had to drop out because of it.

– Keep your receipts and review spending once a month. Attempt to rationalize reasonable ways of saving a little bit of money from the month prior. Example: If you spent $200 on food this month, attempt to bring it down to $180 without severely impacting your diet. Continue the pattern until you reach a sufficient amount.

Remember, post-secondary is a wonderful time in your life. Try to enjoy it as best as you can but do not get tempted by overspending or living beyond your means. To be success in life, sometimes we must live the way some people won’t so that in the future we can lead a life the way some people can’t.

Born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Stéphane is a principled moderate as well as a journalism student at Algonquin College. He is avidly passionate about politics, policy-making, as well as getting youth involved in the democratic process.

Stéphane also loves to observe and explore his surroundings, take part in rational discussion, learn new things, write, and meet new people.


If you wish to contact or sponsor Mr. Groulx email us at info@cornwallfreenews.com or call our hotline at 613 361 1755

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1 Comment

  1. Very good advice Stephane and best of luck in your studies at Algonquin College. Students can learn about the city that they are going to by picking up a map at Canadian Tire and other stores and gas stations and learn the city by going from one neighborhood to the other by bus and getting off and learning the streets. You must know the main streets and then from there you will gradually grap on to what you should know. Don’t expect to know everything because even the people of Ottawa don’t even know their own city. People usually stay in the neighborhood “leur quartier” and they know their area well enough to get around. Just be very cautious about where you go and who you are with. No place is completely safe so just stay in groups. Cook at school as well from scratch and avoid restaurants and bars as much as you can possibly do so. Make your own coffee, etc. Live as cheap as you possibly can.

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