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Toronto, Canada

312 Adelaide Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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How to Make Money Back on Your School Expenses

Written by Trisha Miller

Isn’t it awesome when you’re struggling to make ends meet while trying your damndest to get good grades? Yup. It sure is. It’s the best thing ever, and students just love having to go through it. Cue end of sarcasm.

As much as I wish this was the case, saving money isn’t easy for everyone. With a multitude of tools and apps at our disposal, it can be hard to choose what’s right for us. Sometimes, we have too many expenses to save the money we want to. And sometimes, we don’t even know where to begin. Instead of trying to find a perfect money managing tool, here are some things we can all do to keep cash in our pockets and lessen the strain on our bank accounts.

1. Seek Out Lesser-Known Scholarships

This one seems like a no-brainer, but lots of companies that you wouldn’t expect to host scholarships actually do. A great scholarship for those in high school is the Optimist Award, which will grant a winner $2,500 for the best essay on a positive and encouraging topic. There are always fewer applicants to these scholarships than with a school’s scholarship program, so your chance of winning becomes way higher. Always take a look at scholarships outside your school’s listed offerings. Because each school lists many unique scholarships that can’t be found anywhere else, it’s a good idea to check out other college’s scholarship pages.

2. Embrace Thriftiness

It may not seem appealing to buy things second-hand, but the difference between a brand new couch and a used one could be a few extra hundred dollars in your pocket. Shop around for bargains on clothes and room essentials—people drop off barely-used items to thrift stores (like Value Village) all the time. It might take a little bit longer than usual to get your room in tip-top shape, but you’ll thank yourself when you realize you’re rolling in extra (food) money.

This principle also applies to items like computers, bicycles, calculators, and more. Check out your online options, turn to a friend or family member for their used stuff, or check out student discounts that some bigger companies have to offer. No matter which route you take, you’re bound to save a ton.

3. Sell Your Books (the Right Way)

Some textbook vendors only offer store credit, which doesn’t really help the starving post-secondary student. Explore all of your options and go with a seller that will give you cash back right away. There is a right and a wrong strategy towards getting the most cash out of your books. Some buyers will only accept the newest editions of books, but others will at least give you some money for any of your used copies. If you have friends or family members with old books they’d like to give away, sell those as well. Not all of them have to be textbooks. Many good textbook vendors will also accept fiction books.

4. Look Around for Off-Campus Living

While living at home is no doubt the most cost effective option, it isn’t always possible depending on where you’re going to school. You can check with local housing projects or room up with other students; both options would significantly decrease your living expenses, especially if you live close to school. Not to mention your crib’s square footage will be way more comfortable.

Intensive studies have shown that housing costs vary wildly in many Canadian cities. For example, on-campus living at Moncton University only costs an average of $376 per month while on campus at Cape Breton is about $1,268 per month. Check with your school to see what the most affordable option will be. Larger and more “popular” cities will have a much higher cost of off-campus living compared to small towns, of course, so you have to consider that.

5. Be Open to Other Schooling Options

On average, Canadian students pay about $5,974 per year on tuition. First things first: see if university is even necessary for your chosen field. College study may be appropriate instead of tacking on costly university courses. Another option is to check with your school for online classes. Many schools in Canada do not require you to be a current resident of that province to “attend” an online course. Another possible option is look into certificates and diplomas from the Continuing Education sector of some schools (if you don’t require a full degree, that is). This would offer you additional training, but will not require you to complete a full course load like you’d have to in university.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.