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Financial independence possible: Expert

Part of being in college or university is learning to be independent — including financially independent.

Part of being in college or university is learning to be independent — including financially independent. That’s easier said than done for many students, according to a new RBC poll.

The survey found that 48 per cent of returning post-secondary students like being responsible for their own finances. Yet 37 per cent of returning students add that managing their finances while in school is harder than expected. Given the economic downturn, two-thirds of returning students also told the RBC poll they plan to be more cautious with spending this school year.

Part of smart spending is understanding the term “financially independent,” says Kavita Joshi, director of student markets at RBC.

“Financial independence doesn’t necessarily mean having a certain amount in the bank, or being debt-free,” she says. “Independence means just that — having the autonomy to make your own financial decisions.”

What are some keys to financial independence? Joshi says it’s a matter of learning to:

• Understand your spending habits so you can live within your means, and make smart decisions that suit your needs and wants.

• Control what you can control — some expenses are out of your hands, but students have freedom over many others.

• Decide when and how to take on debt (credit cards and loans) — consider the level you’re comfortable with and how it influences your spending decisions.

“Understanding that you’re in the driver’s seat with your spending is a way to assert your financial independence,” says Joshi.

 
 
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