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10 money-saving tips for students

23 August 2022
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University can get expensive – and when you’re juggling large financial obligations (often for the first time), every dollar counts.

Going into the 2022-23 school year, the U of R’s associate director of enrolment services, Christine McBain, has some advice to help stay on top of things.

“We do see a lot of students who are facing financial pressures and it opens up those conversations to talk about watching spending,” McBain said. “What are the ways that you can save money while you’re in school?”

Here are her top 10 suggestions:

1. Make a budget

Plan out your finances before school starts, McBain said.

“Put some thought into it beforehand, so when you’re here, you can be focused on studying,” she said.

The U of R’s financial aid website links to an easy-to-use budget spreadsheet as well as to the Mint app (one of the many free money-management apps out there).

Monitoring your spending throughout the year is important to ensuring you can afford the things you need to be paying for, she said.

2. Apply for scholarships

The U of R gives millions of dollars in scholarships to undergraduate students through its (Student Awards Management System (SAMS) and to graduate students via the Graduate Awards Portal (GAP).

“It’s definitely a good way to supplement your income,” said McBain.

There are also external agencies that offer scholarships and grants.

3. Be strategic when it comes to textbooks

Use the library if and when you can.

The U of R’s John Archer Library has a textbook lending program.

If you can’t access your required readings through the library, the U of R bookstore has new, used, digital, and rented textbook options.  

If you do opt to own a hardcopy, McBain suggests selling it as soon as you’re done the course to avoid contending with newer versions that will inevitably be published.  

4. Eat in

Even if you’re just grabbing a coffee when you get to campus, it adds up.

“Invest in a coffee pot and travel mugs because over time, that is going to save you a lot of money,” McBain said.

If you live on campus, there’s a school bus from the residences that you can take to the grocery store. Check with housing for this year’s schedule.

The University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) participates in the Good Food Box program. Through URSU, you can place and pick up low-cost orders of fresh fruit and vegetables.

When you’re shopping, buying generic instead of name brand products can result in fairly substantial savings over time – as can buying in bulk. 

“Students will go make a Costco run and then when they come back they split everything up,” McBain said.

Preparing and cooking big batches of the foods you like and freezing them in smaller portions helps to ensure you use up your fresh foods – and can help you out when you’re in a time crunch later on.

And if you have a meal plan use it. Missed meals are not reimbursed.

5. Use the U of R’s free supports

The U of R has a variety of free supports – some of which would otherwise come with a price tag.

Through the Student Success Centre, you can get free tutoring in writing or math. 

If you’re seeking hands-on work experience or career direction, the new Centre for Experiential and Service Learning (CESL), is opening in a new space in the Riddell Centre this semester.

And when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing, there’s the nurse-practitioner-led Student Wellness Centre. It has connections to an array of services that come at no extra cost, including counselling.

Student in the library posing with books

A student checks out the books in the U of R library. Credit: U of R Photography

6. Skip the streaming services

Relaxing with a good show or movie is a must for most students. Instead of shelling out for a corporate streaming service, consider – once again – the U of R library.

The library subscribes to various databases, giving students free online streaming access to thousands of films, documentaries and stage performances.

7. Become involved on campus and attend on-campus events

Paying attention to the various free events happening in the university community gives you the chance to socialize and network.  In addition to the U of R event calendar, you can go through the U for R’s individual faculties and departments as well as URSU to find out what’s going on.

If you like working out or attending fitness classes, membership at the U of R gym is included in your student fees. And there are dozens of student clubs, societies and organizations you can join that align with your interests.

8. Don’t drive

If you live off-campus, driving to school can get costly. It’s not just the vehicle that you need to account for, but gas and parking as well.

Taking the bus – a more eco-friendly option – is also more financially friendly if you’re a student.

“Most students pay for a U-Pass bus pass with their fees, so it doesn’t cost anything extra to take the bus,” McBain said.

The U-Pass provides city-wide access to Regina Transit – and he half a dozen different bus routes that pass through the main U of R campus.

Or consider walking, or biking, the multiuse pathways that extend to various corners of the city as part of your commute. 

9. Take advantage of student discounts

Check out URSU’s student savings programs.  

If there’s a business you don’t see on the list, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have student discount. Many do, McBain said.

In addition to coupons (which can add up in savings), there are loyalty and reward programs (such as PC Optimum, Air Miles, and Scene) that can score you deals if you’re shopping at affiliated stores.

Discount, dollar, and thrift stores are also good options.  

10. Plan social activities that don’t cost money

Get to know your campus and your city – because there are lots of low -cost opportunities to get together with friends and family.  

In addition to the goings-on around campus, there are numerous free festivals in Regina.

Some venues are accessible at no cost. For example, as part of the Regina Public Library, entry to the Dunlop Art Gallery is free. The McKenzie Art Gallery offers a heavily-discounted membership to students. And admission to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum is by donation.

And don’t forget to take advantage the outdoors in Wascana Centre. Whether it’s to walk, bike, play disc golf, run, have a barbecue, or hang out in a green space with friends, Wascana Centre is one of the largest urban green spaces in North America.

Banner image: U of R Photography