What I’ve Learned Living on a Student Budget

Parentwise Canada - Lessons learned living on a student budget.

This is Alexa’s first year at university and since living on a student budget, says she has “developed the skill of no longer spending money on a whim.”

Being on a student budget isn’t always easy.

Living in a bustling city like Ottawa, there are so many different and unique bistros, boutiques, events, and shopping centers that constantly make me want to reach for my wallet. However, I have to remind myself to resist the urge – I’m living on a student budget.

I’ve been attending university for six weeks now, and although I’ve been focusing my time on school work, extracurricular activities and building friendships, I’m also having to learn how to balance my budget. It is an essential part of independent living to ensure financial stability, especially throughout your studies.

Luckily for me, I have a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) with CST, that my parents invested in when I was born. This has helped me tremendously, especially this far into my first year of university. However, just because I have my RESP does not mean that I don’t need to be careful with my spending.

I have a university meal plan, so I try my hardest to make sure I’m eating my meals in the dining hall instead of going out and spending my money elsewhere. As well, I try to limit myself when it comes to shopping (no matter how much a midterm exam makes me feel the need for retail therapy).

It can be difficult at times to resist spending money, but I always try to remember that the money in my account, thanks to my RESP and OSAP, isn’t going to last forever and I need to make sure that it’s there for when I need it.

Luckily, my friends here at university are all in similar financial states; where saving money and being smart about spending is a top priority. This helps eliminate any potential ‘fear of missing out’,that can cause students to be frivolous with their money.

I’ve gained many financial skills through this experience of living on my own and attending post-secondary. I’m always searching for sales, and trying to get the biggest bang for my buck.

As well, I need to plan in advance and have developed the skill of no longer spending money on a whim. I’ve become more responsible and have really started to see myself as an adult since I’ve moved away from home.

As the winter semester approaches, it’s time for me to start looking for living accommodations for next year, which will be quite a big step for me, both mentally and financially. Although it can be easier in the moment to spend money and avoid checking your bank account, in the long run it’s important to pay close attention to the money you’re spending and plan accordingly for the future!


Alexa Shipman

Alexa is an outgoing 18 year old from London, Ontario. She is passionate about the arts and was a member of Original Kids Theatre Company for nine years. She spends her summers working as a camp counselor and is excited about entering the newest stage of her life, as a student studying International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa. In addition to being a Parentwise blogger, Alexa is also a CST Beneficiary.

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