Balancing act

Tips for a better student budget

Illustration of Student working on a budget. Aly Khan/SAIT)

Illustration of Student working on a budget. Aly Khan/SAIT)

With the post-break glow rapidly fading, the time has come to re-evaluate one’s finances.

ATB Financial’s on-campus branch manager, Kristina Sheldon, offered students some advice for this upcoming term. 

Sheldon has been in the banking industry for 15 years, eight of which have been with ATB Financial.

Sheldon advised students to sign up for online or mobile banking to better track their spending and see where their money is going. A sit-down conversation with a personal banker is also a good idea, as they can help tailor a financial plan that fits the student’s specific needs.

ATB has an alternative to government-run student loans in the form of a student line of credit, which has a low-interest rate and flexible payment options.

“We also give you a break on repayment once you graduate, because we know it takes some time to get up on your feet,” Sheldon said.

That being said, debt can also be good, as Sheldon believes managing debt develops responsibility and helps build a student’s credit score and history with their bank. 

“No matter what, make sure to always put aside some money towards your savings, even if it starts out as a small amount,” Sheldon said. “Every cent counts.”

According to a 2008 article in The Guardian, students are advised to cut back on unnecessary expenses and get rid of things such as old textbooks. While SAITSA Seconds Used Book Store is no longer open, used texts can still be sold using the SAITSA app, partially reimbursing the book’s original cost.

Another way to save money through SAIT comes in the form of the eCard built into every student’s ID, functioning as a no-fee debit card. Once loaded with money, it can be used to purchase everything from affordable meat at the Market Place to any of the food outlets listed on SAIT’s website. 

Many students work both during and before the school year to help make ends meet. Some, like second-year Information Technology student Nicholas McCurry, do so by working for SAIT.

While McCurry’s parents set up a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for him when he was young, he also carefully managed his finances to ensure he would be able to both live in residence and afford his expenses while there. 

In the summer of 2016, McCurry worked as a camp leader for SAIT Summer Camps.

“Working with SAIT Summer Camps was an amazing job, I already knew SAIT campus so I didn’t have to get accustomed to a new work environment,” McCurry said.

Currently, McCurry tries to budget by month, but admits he will occasionally spend more than he expects.

“Going into the new year, I would like to set up a proper budget,” McCurry said.

“I would like to have a realistic breakdown of each of my expenses and make sure that I stick within it.”

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