This article was originally featured on the RBC Discover Blog Series and has been adapted for the Arrive Hub.
For most students, deciding whether to live on or off-campus (or at home) is a key decision that’s often influenced by personal finances and budget. However, for many international students, choices are often much more limited.
As a student living away from home, lack of proper planning can cause your expenses to rise quickly. Regardless of where you decide to live, planning for additional unforeseen expenses, creating a budget, and setting financial goals is a must to steer you on the road to financial well-being!
For students living at home with relatives, here are some tips to help you plan better:
Discuss household expenses
Contributing to household finances is a good way to gather experience in budgeting and managing money. Although it may be minimal, talk to your relatives about how you can contribute towards household costs — this will be helpful in forecasting future expenses for when you are ready to move out of the house.
Calculate commuting costs
Commuting does not only include transit cost. If you have a car (or plan on getting a car), you would have to account for gas, insurance and/or parking. An additional item to consider would be extra data for catching up on school work while you’re on public transit. Keep your budget realistic by including these smaller costs.
Cultivate a habit of saving money
Living with relatives is an excellent opportunity for you to save for the future. Be consistent in putting money aside on a regular basis so that you have a head start when it’s time to move out. Taking up a part-time job is also a good way to help you with your savings.
For those living on or off-campus (away from home), here’s some advice for better planning and budgeting:
Prepare for the new routine and location
Keep an eye out for well-priced local transportation, grocery stores, and other amenities. If you’re living with roommates, decide in advance how costs will be shared so there aren’t any surprises.
Plan for unforeseen circumstances/situations
Sudden situations like a trip home, a broken laptop, or having to pay for contingencies might strain your budget. Therefore, planning for emergencies will help. Setting aside earnings from a part-time job is another good way of saving for such unanticipated expenses.
Look for creative ways to stretch dollars and offset costs
One of the ways to save money is to check with your parents or relatives for any reward points that can be redeemed for household appliances, gift cards, groceries, clothes, or travel benefits. Also, look out for student deals, make meals at home, and opt for less pricey places to go out with friends.
Living expenses can add up to as much or more than your tuition, so making the decision about where to live and understanding all the costs associated with each option along with considering the factors impacting the cost of borrowing money (credit cards and loans) should be examined thoroughly.
At Arrive, we’ve created a monthly budgeting tool to help you plan in advance and understand what your expenses in Canada may look like, you can check it out here.
Depending on your situation, there are other options like government grants and scholarships that you can explore to fund your education.
Whether living at home, or away on campus, post-secondary school is an exciting time and the skills you build in money management are lessons you will take with you for life.