Getting Smart With Finances

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Written by: Calvin Green, Gen1 Program Peer Facilitator

When I graduated from high school, I hadn’t spent a lot of time considering finances. I thought about it quickly then thought, “I’ll be fine! I’ve worked all summer so that should be enough to pay for university and residence, right?” Boy, was I ever wrong!

As I was finishing my grade 12 year, my family talked to me about OSAP, which was, at that point, an entirely foreign concept. I honestly didn’t think I would need it because I had worked all summer but my mom convinced me that I would need it eventually. It wasn’t until my first week of university that I realized how much I needed OSAP. That’s when I started doing some math.  The cost for tuition for a 30-credit (average full time) student is roughly $7,029.91 and the average cost of residence being $6019.75. In other words, just to go to class and have a place to live costs more than $13,000! That’s more than 1100 hours of working at minimum wage.

Let’s face it: money is an issue and, unfortunately, it’s an issue that is rarely discussed before it’s too late.  The funny thing is that managing your finances early can truly make your life much less stressful and enjoyable.  There are many tools and resources those students don’t really know are available to them until it is too late. So let’s start the conversation now!  The cover charge alone for a night at The Moose is $15 dollars.  That same $15 could get you 12 full hamburgers and buns from No Frills or 3 full pizzas from Walmart. One night out can be translated into multiple meals.

Did you know that financial advisers are paid to help you with financing and budgeting? If you go to any bank, you can book an appointment and they can lay out a concrete plan on how to make your money last longer. There are so many resources available on campus that can be used if you’re struggling financially.  If you go to the Finance office, there are a number of resources that are available to help layout a budget. There are bursaries available to help support students who don’t have enough money to last the year. You can also attend the budgeting workshops offered by Student Learning and Transitions for some basic advice!  Money can be a scary, uncomfortable issue that is often not talked about because it comes with a stigma behind it. This stigma often causes people to think they have to solve this problem on their own. It is okay to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak; it means you have the initiative and want to make your financial situation better and stay on your feet. Listed below are a bunch of financial resources that are available that include budget excel files which can be started at the start of the year to make your money count.

Resources that are Available:

http://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/eng/Pages/home-accueil.aspx  (this is a federal government financial literacy link – this particular agency has been promoting financial literacy really heavily within the last year and have lots of great pamphlets, etc. that they will share with you for free)

http://getsmarteraboutmoney.ca/en/Pages/default.aspx#.VrOfodIrKUm

http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/index.shtml

http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/resources.html