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How to manage money as a student in Canada


How to make money as a student 

Here are several ways you can earn some extra money on the side while juggling school.

Pick up a part-time job

One of the most common ways to access extra money is having a part-time job. Consider working in retail or at a restaurant, or getting a seasonal job, where you can work at a tourist attraction or resort. Having a summer job is a great way to obtain professional skills while enjoying time off of school and having a lighter course load. 

When I was in university, I worked on campus as a teaching assistant and a research assistant. This was a convenient way for me to earn extra cash in between classes so I could pay off my credit card bill every month and enjoy a night out with my friends—without worrying if I could afford it. 

Enroll in a co-op or internship

Enrolling in a program that offers a paid internship or co-op is an excellent way to gain work and industry experience and make some money. 

What’s more? These types of co-ops can often pay more than the minimum wage. The average co-op earnings is $12,400 per work term in Canada—a win-win situation. Be prepared to pay a co-op fee. Depending on whether you are a domestic or international student, on the number of placement terms, and on which year you enter into the program, the co-op fee can range from $485 to $1,063 per work term. This helps to cover the cost of running the program, including helping students’ job searches and interview prep. The amount you earn during your work term will more than make up for it.

Plus, you can add this experience to your resume to help you stand out from your competition when you graduate and start your career. 

Apply for scholarships and bursaries

Let’s not forget about the scholarships and bursaries that you may be eligible for. Each year, there are countless financial aid opportunities to apply for, and you could receive hundreds to thousands of dollars to help pay for tuition. It can really be worth the time to apply if you meet the criteria, which can be based on academic performance and/or community involvement. 

Do some research to find out which ones you qualify for and would most likely be granted. Be sure to submit your application before the deadline. By receiving this funding, it will allow you to manage student loan debt so you don’t have to worry about picking up extra shifts at your part-time job. 

How to save money as a student

No matter how much income you earn, follow these steps to supercharge your savings.

Save money from your paycheque

A good habit is to stash away money from every paycheque. As a student, that may be tough as you most likely have limited money to begin with, but if you can set aside even $25 a week, you will have saved $1,300 in one year. 

Save your spare change

One way to save money effortlessly is by using a roundup app to help you reach your savings goals. This gives you the ability to round up your purchases to a specified dollar amount, putting that “gap money” into a savings or investment account. In Canada, fintech companies, such as Koho, Moka and Wealthsimple, provide this type of service. It’s also fun and motivating to watch your money grow. 

Open up a high-interest savings account

Where should you put this saved cash? Nowadays, high-interest savings accounts (HISA) are coming back onto the scene with some decent offers since the Bank of Canada (BoC) has been raising interest rates. It’s suitable for those who are looking to keep their money growing over time. Looking for the best high-interest savings account in Canada? Learn more about which account will suit you best. 

Take advantage of the tax-free savings account

Another option is to put your savings towards a tax-free savings account (TFSA). You are eligible to open this type of account if you are a Canadian and over the age of 18. This year’s contribution limit is $6,000. To figure out your lifetime contribution room, try our TFSA contribution room calculator or visit the Government of Canada website

Did you know that a TFSA is not used for just savings? You can use it to invest your money, too, such as buying an index fund or a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC)

How to budget as a student

There’s no doubt a lot of tempting things you want to add to your cart when you’re shopping. With so many social media influencers and celebs sharing their favourite products, it’s easy to get lured into wanting to own what they are selling you. So if you find every month your credit card is getting maxed out, then take a step back and see what adjustments you can make to curb your spending. Which leads very nicely into understanding…

What are your needs versus your wants?

One way to keep spending in check is to identify your “must haves” versus “nice to haves.” A “need” is something that is essential for you, such as groceries to make meals for yourself, whereas a “want” is something that’s nice to have, but you could wait to buy it, like a brand new watch. The next time you are debating whether to buy a “want” item, ask yourself these questions:


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