Becoming Financially Independent

When it comes to money, we make many choices. Sometimes these choices benefit us and sometimes they hurt us. Most of the time, we fall somewhere in between.

As you develop your financial independence during your time in University and after, you will make many of these choices – consciously or not. We’ve put together some some choices you can make now. (Some of these may seem obvious, but you might be surprised!)

What happens when you don’t pay your bills on time? Penalties and late fees get added to the bill. While this may not seem like a lot when you spending is small, these fees and habits can add up over time.

In fact, forgetting to pay your bills on time can have consequences that hurt you in the future. Your interest rate might get increased, your credit rating could get lowered (which affects your future ability to further credit when needed), or your account could get closed.

Money Tip:

Know your habits. Use pre-authorized debits and you’ll never be late again.

Missing a tuition payment is more common than you think, but there’s a cost. Some of the costs include: late fees; not receiving your grades at the end of the semester; not being able to return to school until all outstanding McMaster accounts are in good standing; post-poned graduation.

Money Tip:

When you receive money of any kind, your first priority should be your tuition. Do your best to pay the bill immediately, so that you can prevent a missed payment.

According to Student Awards, over $15 million in scholarships and bursaries goes unclaimed. One of those scholarships could have your name on it!

Scholarships and bursaries are funds that do not need to be paid back (learn more about them here). They are an ideal option to pay off student debt.

Money Tip:

There are many funds that are prepared to support students by recognizing your academic progress, your financial need, your extracurricular activities, or even your parent’s work places and religious or ethnic affiliations. Do your research well in advance so that you have time to prepare applications for opportunities that may best apply to you.

Visit the Office of the Registrar website for a full list of scholarships available through McMaster University.

Student Services are part of your tuition and they are here to support you during your time in University and after. Taking advantage of your student services and benefits can save you money and time. Before purchasing a service, we recommend learning about what’s available so that you can save.

Money Tip:

Check out our Tuition Breakdown page for a list of services.

Keeping track of the money you are making and how much you spend is one of the best things you can do in life. If you don’t already track your spending, you might be surprised at just how much things add up.

Tracking how much you make in comparison to how much you spend can be empowering and can prevent future stress. This decision has many benefits too, including: spending within your means; having enough money for the end of the year; keeping your debt low; and, making smarter financial decisions.

Money Tips:

Find ways to cut back on expenses and use freebies whenever you can.

Check out the student budgeting worksheets on our website.

Awareness is one of the best ways to stay in control of your finances. Knowing where you’re at can ensure you are aware of the impact of your choices.

Money Tips:

Check your loan amounts and credit card balances regularly

Know the interest rates on the loans and cards

Be aware of the impact this debt will have on your future financial health

Use a debt calculator to see what your future monthly payments will be and don’t exceed 10% of what your monthly future income might be.

Forgetting to pay your credit card may result in you spending more money than you have available to you. There is also a lot of wasted money that goes towards interest.

Money Tip:

Credit card interest rates are high so take advantage of the grace period on cards and never pay interest again.

There are tax refunds for students. Doing your taxes allows you to take advantage of both the provincial and federal refunds eligible for low income earners –Trillium and HST.

Money Tips:

Even if you don’t have an income, file a tax return and be eligible for government programs designed to help low income individuals

Take advantage of our free tax clinics in March

Use your tax refund to reduce your debt