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Get started with budgeting for school

Get started with budgeting for school

School is an investment and, yep, it can be expensive. Knowing in advance what your expenses are and having a plan will help you avoid financial stress.

First, know what you need to pay for

As a student, you’ll have tuition and fees to pay, plus textbooks and supplies to buy. You’ll also have day-to-day living expenses, including rent/mortgage, clothing, food, insurance and more.

Figure out your average monthly spending by grabbing a few months’ worth of bills and categorizing your expenses. Then add the one-time costs or lump-sum payments.

Next, figure out your funding options

There are a variety of resources available to help you finance your education. Explore your options, including:

  • Student loans: Apply early to ensure your loan is processed as soon as possible. Visit studentaid.alberta.ca or your provincial student aid office.
  • Awards and bursaries: There is over $5 million in awards available to SAIT students. 
  • Student line of credit: Many financial institutions offer a Student Line of Credit — check in with yours.
  • Employment: If you plan to work while you’re in school, the recommended maximum is about 15 hours per week.

Then, manage your money with a budget

Budgeting is about creating a plan to spend your money based on income and expenses. Making a budget doesn’t have to be complicated. Try these simple steps:

  • Money in — record your income from all sources.
  • Money out — list and track your expenses.
  • Evaluate — based on your money in and money out, do you need more income or fewer expenses?
  • Repeat — follow this process monthly.

Keep in mind, what you’re earning now might not be the same while you’re a student.

👉 Check this out: Money Mentors: Your home budget calculator

👉 Check this out: Campus Well: 7 steps to pain-free budgeting

Five tips for saving money as a student

  1. Create a meal plan for the week — this helps avoid the temptation to order in or eat out, plus leftovers are a money saver.
  2. Make your own coffee on the regular and treat yourself with the fancy stuff.
  3. Sign up for rewards programs and look for student discounts – they’re out there for food, travel, technology, retail, tickets and admission, and more.
  4. Use prepaid and refillable grocery cards to keep your spending on track.
  5. Try having two active bank accounts: one for paying bills and one for everything else.


Learn more about financial support and funding options — connect with Financial Advising at SAIT.

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