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Budget basics

Be wary of the plastic. And by plastic, we mean credit cards.

Be wary of the plastic.

And by plastic, we mean credit cards.

“Oftentimes, those $1,000 credit cards are what end up hurting down the road,” says Marla Douglas, a financial aid and awards officer at Saint Mary’s University.

With many credit card companies setting up booths at universities and colleges to offer students credit cards, students must realize that how they use credit cards affects their credit rating, which will impact everything from their ability to buy a car or home down the road.

With high annual interest rates of approximately 20 per cent, if students don’t stay on top of their credit card payments, the debt amounts can add up pretty quickly.

For most university students, budgeting their finances can be tricky, especially establishing the difference between needs and wants.

Needs are essentials, such as food, shelter, clothing and tuition. Wants are the extras, like trips to the bar or a big-screen TV.

If students are having a hard time sticking to their budget, they should look at ways they can cut back on expenses, such as by having roommates.

“That’s a great way to save money,” says Peter Wilson, the associate director of scholarships and bursaries at York University in Toronto.

Not only will students be able to split the cost of rent, they can also share the cost for utilities and things like Internet or cable service.

Other ways of cutting expenses include not buying brand name foods at the grocery store, taking public transit (rather than driving) and simplifying one’s cellphone plan.

For students who require student loans, it’s a good idea that once their tuition is paid, they take any leftover money and put it into a separate bank account from their day-to-day one. This should also help prevent students from using that money to buy unnecessary things.

 
 
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