As we head into Stage 3 of COVID-19, it might be a good time to step back and evaluate how effective we have been in managing our finances during the pandemic.
For some, the pandemic has been a financial blessing in disguise. With social distancing alternatives such as working from home, to no longer being able to socialize at a bar or restaurant, many Canadians have been able to save money.
Others have a different story. The unemployment rate soared to 13% as the full force of the pandemic hit, compared to 7.8% in March. Recent immigrants to Canada (five years or less) also experienced higher job losses than other groups, with a decline of 22.6%. And while many have been able to save by working from home, Amazon spending habits have generally increased.
This begs the question: How can we, as students who don’t make a lot of money as it is, save money during this unprecedented time?
Whichever your situation, here are three simple tips that Quad-Fi recommends you consider to take control over your spending:
1. Cancel unnecessary direct debits and subscriptions
How many times have you checked your monthly statement just to see that you forgot to cancel an app payment after the free trial was over? Many of us make the mistake of wasting money on services that we don’t really need, or even get to use. Monitoring the money that automatically leaves your account each month is one of the easiest ways to reduce unnecessary expenses, and there is no better time than a pandemic to consider what really matters. So, take a good look at what direct debit services you actually use and get rid of the ones you no longer need. This doesn’t only apply to paid services either—if you are swamped by emails that constantly encourage buying unnecessary products or services, it’s time to cut the cord.
Further, contact your bank or credit union right away if you see a payment that you did not authorize or a payment that was made after you revoked authorization.
2. Start planning for the upcoming academic year
Whether your school is offering an online, physical or hybrid format in September, it is a great time to look into financial resources for the upcoming year. Many schools have free financial resources for students to take advantage of, and yet they are often overlooked. For example, the University of Toronto launched a free Financial Planning Calculator which organizes how much money students need to cover tuition and fees, housing costs, food and everything else for the upcoming academic year, including a budget breakdown and personalized budget resources.
There are also several budget-tracking apps available online, or if you like to do things yourself, you can
always create a Google Sheet to hold yourself accountable to your budgeting goals. While it is important to watch your spending closely while you’re in school, these are important life skills you are developing!
At the beginning of the pandemic, many schools began offering free courses through online platforms, including Ivey League schools.
Here are a few financial planning courses to help get you started:
- Personal & Family Financial Planning, University of Florida
- Financial Planning for Young Adults, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Finance for Everyone, University of Michiga
3. Increase low or no-cost activities
COVID-19 doesn’t mean that you have to stop doing everything you enjoy. Give yourself an allowance for “non-essential” items and activities, and minimize your use of this budget by choosing low-cost or free options wherever possible.
Having a budget also doesn’t mean that you have to use all of it up. If you find that you have a surplus in a certain category, you can absolutely transfer it over to another. For example, leftover leisure activity money can be allocated to tuition money. These are a few simple ways to take proactive measures regarding your debt and finances during COVID-19. Take a look at our website to learn more about our student loans and refinancing, and remember to take care of yourself as best as you can—be it financially, physically or mentally.