With analysts predicting a tough summer job market in an even more difficult economic climate, 10 students talk about what they do to save money while in school.
Common suggestions included keeping track of your spending by using cash instead of debit or credit, eating and drinking at home and having a realistic budget.
Of the 10 students polled through Facebook, six were employed and worked an average of 20 to 40 hours per week. Grocery costs averaged to $35 to $50 a week, with most students stocking up on cheap foods such as pasta, rice and beans.
Jean-François Guertin, a graduate geological sciences student, said alcohol is a big expense most students fail to realize.
For example, an average pint of beer from a bar is a little on the expensive side when compared to a discount brand six-pack.
“I try not to go out to bars too much because it gets very expensive,” he said. “It’s difficult sometimes, but having a drink at home with friends is often better.”
Greg Harder returned to Simon Fraser University in B.C. in 2008 to pursue a master’s degree in economics after spending a few years working off previous student loans. Harder said his vegan diet of local foods from farmer’s markets saved time as well as money.
“I’ll make about 10 quarts of healthy vegetable or lentil soup, and then I’ll freeze them and enjoy them throughout the week,” he said. “It’s easy to defrost the portions, and it only costs about 50 cents a bowl.”
Lauren Pratt is a 22-year-old communications student at SFU. She scans grocery stores for specials and checks her bank balance daily. Although she works 30 hours per week and receives financial aid from her family, Pratt has been going to school at a reduced course load to maximize her earnings.
For Pratt, this means finishing a four-year degree over five-and-a-half years, but graduating debt-free.
“I think it’s impossible for a person in their early 20s to pay about $1,000 a month in living expenses and pay for tuition while working and going to school at the same time.”
Emily Paquet, a criminology student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in B.C., said it’s even more difficult for students who receive no financial assistance from their parents.
“I’ve been working as many as 30 hours a week at Peace Arch Hospital, but even at this rate I won’t have my degree until I’m 26,” she said.