Everyone knows that saving money is important; but, realistically, it’s hard to start. There is always a bill to pay, which is why saving is a habit that needs to be practiced. Successfully managing your money takes planning and careful management of your resources.
Think of the hopes you have in life – maybe it’s buying a home, travelling the world, or even saving enough money to support your family. Whatever your hopes for the future may be, developing your spending habits now can only help.
Below are some ideas on how you can incorporate saving into your day-to-day life.
- Most banks offer free banking to students – check and make sure you have the student rate!
- If you use your debit card, make sure the merchant isn’t charging you a fee.
- Use ATM machines at your branch to avoid charges. If you take out money at a different bank or branch, you may be charged by both institutions adding up to $3-$4 per transaction.
- When looking to open a savings account, make sure to settle on one that has a high interest rate while having little to no fees.
- If you do not have enough money to cover your bills, there will be a Non-Sufficient Fund (NSF) charge. Both the creditor and your bank will charge you fees that can be substantial. An $80 fee is not unusual per returned cheque. Make sure you know how much money is in your account at all times.
- Utilizing online pre-authorized payments will mean you never miss a payment, you won’t incur late penalties and you will maintain a good credit report.
- Download a banking app to stay up to date with your accounts and transactions.
- Shop around for the cheapest plan for your needs. Some providers often have student deals or family bundles that can save you a lot of money.
- Consider if you really need that data plan or whether you can get by with your computer.
- If you consistently make long distance calls, think about adding it to your plan as it is the cheapest way to go.
- Take advantage of free apps that allows you to text, call or video chat with family and friends.
- Make sure you always check your bills for extra charges that you did not agree to or weren’t included in your plan. Errors can happen!
- Check if your plan includes any subscription services (Netflix/Spotify/Hulu).
- Be aware of Wi-Fi spots and best connectivity on-campus.
Consider public transportation, not just for travelling around Hamilton but also for when you leave town:
- Buy the International Student Identity Card. This card is the only internationally-recognized student ID. You can use it for travel, accommodation, food & drink and entertainment while receiving great discounts anywhere you go. Get your ISIC now.
- Via Rail also offers discounts for students, members of the First Nation and Aboriginals and compassionate fares. Booking in advance will also lower your fares. Visit the Via Rail website if you have any concerns regarding discounts
- You can also save by travelling by bus. Carpooling also provides a cheaper and more efficient alternative to travelling alone. Both the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) and GO Transit accept valid student ID cards.
- The Presto Card is a smart card fare payment system for participating in Ontario transit systems.
- SOBI is a non-profit Hamilton bike share. You can use your Presto Card as well.
If you own a car, consider some of the following:
- Shop around for the cheapest gas. Visit Gas Buddy.
- Stay on your parent’s insurance plan
- Wash your own car
- Organize your errands and minimize your total travel time
- Learn basic car maintenance and perform simple repairs yourself
- Earn money by driving students home. Visit the PickUp page to learn more.
If you simply need a car for a few hours or days at a time, consider car-sharing programs located around McMaster. You will be saving money on gas, maintenance and insurance! There are three different services that vary in prices, cars and policies so find out what is best for you.
- Eating out can be tough on the wallet so remember it is always cheaper to buy food and make it yourself!
- Make use of loyalty programs and points that can help save you money.
- Visit discounted supermarkets such as No Frills, Fresh Co or Food Basics. Food Basics and Fortinos offer 10% on Tuesdays for students. Shoppers offers 20% off on Thursdays for students.
- Buy what is on sale and make your meals around that week’s sale items.
- Make enough food for leftovers and use that for lunch the next day.
- Be wary of stocking up on sale items. If you have your entire food budget sitting on a shelf or in a freezer, you may not have enough for your perishables as the week goes on.
- Remember, sale items can be discounted quite often. This won’t be the last time your favourite cereal is on sale! Go for the more cost-effective products.
- Buy produce that is in season.
- Visit free coupon sites and comparison shop for prices.
- Buy one larger meal (and save extra for lunch) or simply order appetizers and share.
- In late August, early September the MSU puts out an agenda with coupons for restaurants.
- Find out if your favourite restaurant offers daily specials.
- If you live off-campus, consider getting a Mac Express Meal Plan.
- Freedom Plan: You’ll get a 5% discount on some food purchases on and off campus.
- Term plan: You’ll get 13% (tax free!) discount on some food purchase on campus.
- Learn more on the Hospitality website!
- Utilize your Freedom Plan at these participating off-campus restaurants.
- Look for meals that have a fixed price and include additional beverages or sides. The “extras” can really add up.
- Restaurants often charge exorbitant prices on beverages so water is a good alternative. If you do get a drink, check and see if it’s refillable.
- Some restaurants allow you to bring your own bottle of wine. Check out this site for a list of participating restaurants.
- The McMaster Students Union (MSU) has made great strides in providing food assistance through the Food Collective Centre. NoLunchMoney provides information regarding free food on campus.
- Check if there are daily specials or happy hours for restaurants.
- Share cable/satellite expenses with roommates and opt for inexpensive options like Netflix and Spotify.
- Have a drink before you go to the bar. Nurse one drink throughout the night and enjoy non-alcoholic beverages. It’s cheaper and ensures you arrive home safely.
- Go to clubs that don’t require a cover charge or go earlier for free/reduced cover.
- Look for free on-campus activities and events. Visit the MSU events page.
- Enjoy the free services at the David Braley Athletic Centre. If you want access to the gym, The Pulse is now included in your tuition.
- Discover free or inexpensive community events and activities. Visit Tourism Hamilton to find out more.
- Wait for sales and coupons! The best times are just before and after the holidays and at the end of seasons.
- Ask for gift cards among family and friends, especially those that are for the mall. You will be free to use mall gift cards for any store for any type of item.
- Use shops that are known to carry second hand clothing as well as new items. Talize and Value Village are a couple of examples.
- Avoid clothes that need to be dry-cleaned. It’s a costly expense.
- Create a designer look with pieces that resemble name-brand items but cost less. Invest in basics!
- Re-purpose clothes that you no longer wear!
- Do clothing swaps with a friend!