Why budgeting is essential for university and college students

By Madeline Grant



Canadian students are struggling with finances. It’s an ongoing crisis that – according to experts – shows no sign of slowing down.

In 2015, The Canadian University Survey Consortium surveyed more than 18,000 graduating students from 36 Canadian universities. The average student in debt owed $26,819.

Tuition, rent, food and other expenses can be overwhelming for students with a limited income.

“Students aren’t prepared for handling their own expenses,” said Dustin Kiliwnik, a financial planner at the Royal Bank of Canada. “Many are living on their own for the first time and have never learned how to properly budget.”

Kiliwnik said many students that take out school loans don’t know how to sufficiently use them.

“The number one mistake I see students making is they treat their student loan as free money. Then they realize later on what they’ve got themselves into.”

Kiliwnik said he believes that budgeting is an easy solution, but many students simply aren’t taught how to do it.

“It needs to be taught in high school. The responsibility shouldn’t fall on students to figure it out for themselves, but unfortunately, that’s the reality right now and students are struggling because of it.”

Kristen Hedley-Brown, 23, is a nursing student at Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus. She has a student loan and fears the debt she may owe after graduation.

The free budgeting app, Mint: Personal Finance & Money, is an acclaimed tool to help students budget and track finances. It’s available for both iPhone and Android users. / MADELINE GRANT

“I try not to think about it too much, which sounds bad, but it’s just an added stress I have to carry,” said Hedley-Brown.

Hedley-Brown said that she doesn’t believe budgeting is always a simple task.

“I know that budgeting and planning is the way to go, but it’s easier said than done,” said Hedley-Brown. “I’m usually focused on studying and other things so budgeting my money isn’t always a top priority, and that’s where I start to lose track.”

Kiliwnik recommends that students download a good budgeting app or look into budgeting services at their bank.

“Online banking at RBC has a good budgeting tool. I can’t speak for other banks or credit unions, but I’m sure they have similar tools available online as well,” said Kiliwnik.

A free budgeting app that students can download is Mint: Personal Finance & Money. In 2016, Mint was listed in Time’s The 50 Best Apps of the Year article and is still rated high by users today. The app keeps bank accounts, credit cards, bills and investments in one place, and tells users when they are overspending.

Mint is an easier way for students to budget and track expenses and is available for iPhone and Android.