Developing a financial plan while you study will go a long way towards a happier university experience. Luckily, UBC has a wealth of resources to help you take control of your finances.
You’re a new undergraduate student who has flown the coop and are living on your own for the first time. What freedom! Such opportunity! You now have full autonomy to control your own life without mom and dad around to limit your choices.
Extra gravy on your poutine? Yes, please. Why not have a second beer with your classmates? Music helps you study and you need a break from time to time, so subscriptions to Spotify and Netflix are both justifiable.
But wait...that old saying, “With great power comes great responsibility,” didn’t become so popular for nothing. Although it's a cliché, there’s a lot of truth to it. With the freedom to control your own life comes the responsibility of making smart choices. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to managing your personal finances while you study.
Money Smarts = Happy Life
Developing smart spending and saving habits is just as important during your undergraduate degree as having effective study routines and forming healthy personal relationships. Why, you ask?
First of all, experiencing a lack of money or living under a mountain of debt can lead to unnecessary anxiety that can distract you from your studies.
Second, learning how to budget and manage your money means developing a set of life skills you’ll use again and again as you enter the so-called ‘real world.’
Finally, most students don't walk into high-paying jobs immediately upon graduation but instead slog through unpaid internships or low-paying, entry-level positions. Therefore, the more debt you accumulate, the more it becomes a burden that reduces your paycheque after you graduate.
Take it from someone with experience: I’ve already completed a 4-year undergrad degree and returned to grad school last year. While I was lucky enough to live abroad for 5 years in between, the student debt I was saddled with severely limited my ambitious plans to travel the world. I always had to work to make sure I didn’t miss a loan payment.
If there’s one thing I regret not doing during my time as an undergrad, it is this: not making a budget and sticking to it.
Do your future self a favour: act now to get your finances in order and avoid the student debt trap.
Get the financial advice you need to succeed
While the idea of making a financial plan might seem intimidating—especially if you’re not a math student—it shouldn’t be. There are plenty of resources on campus to help you become money savvy. Here are some of them:
The UBC Student Services website has a variety of resources that can help you learn the basics of budgeting, credit, student loans, and how to stick to your financial plan.
Your Enrolment Services Advisor can provide one-on-one help with financial planning. You can schedule an appointment with your ES Advisor by phone, email, or online. If you don’t have an assigned ES Advisor, they’re still available to help.
ES Advisors also run a number of Financial Wellness workshops throughout the year, covering everything from building a budget to understanding how student loan repayment works. These workshops are amazing opportunities to learn tips and tricks for managing your money responsibly—and they’re free. Here are two workshops coming up in October:
Smart financial planning can help ensure that you have enough money to last through a two-, three- or four-year degree program and that your student debt won’t control your life after you graduate.
Looking at the bigger picture of your income and expenses will help you navigate the daily temptation to spend extravagantly. This is the sage advice of someone who has been through university once and came out the other side a much wiser miser.