Smart budgeting for students

Saving money, budgeting, and student loan management for college students can be as big of a learning curve outside the classroom as it is in. 

Whether a first-time student or returning, learning smart strategies can h
elp establish a solid foundation for
the future.

Megan Desplanque, Customer Service Manager for ATB Financial located on SAIT’s campus, said the first thing students can do is find a bank that offers free student chequing and savings accounts.

Savings accounts that allow a one-time withdrawal for free are meant  to discourage withdrawals for impulsive purchases, Desplanque said, which helps with saving and budgeting.

Students should transfer lump sums of money (such as student loans) into a savings account where a higher rate of interest is earned over the course of a semester and monthly living expenses get transferred out as needed,
Desplanque said.

Some financial institutions offer an online tracking feature that categorize debit purchases on a monthly basis, Desplanque said, adding that this feature puts into perspective how much a coffee a day adds up to.

“This is an awesome tool because most people use debit and you can see you spent this much on eating out, or this much on groceries,” she said.

Spending trackers are excellent tools for students to see where they can better manage their spending,
Desplanque explained.

Online trackers are featured through most
financial institutions.

CIBC has a personal budgeting tool to categorize spending and access a more detailed view of transaction
activity, and ATB Financial’s feature is  called “Track it.”

“Seeing that combined number makes you think you could make your own coffee for a lot less,” Desplanque said, adding
that that same number could be put into a
savings account.

“Educate yourself, shop around, and do your research,” she said. Students can receive free money through promotions
and referrals.

For example, upon opening a new Students First Account before September 30, ATB Financial will deposit $150 into the account the fourth month after
opening it.

Other institutions offer student bonuses and incentives for banking with them during college careers too.

BMO offers special student promotions with gift cards, cash back, and chances to win free tuition and books.

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