SSC Academic Skills Orientation: Online header. This one says "Expectations versus Reality."

Finances

Hey Marauders! 

At this point in the summer you may be thinking about money. University is expensive and is often the first time students have some financial independence, which can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, it is very important that you stay on top of your financial situation. Today we will discuss financial wellness and give you some tips on how to ensure that your finances stay under control. 

“Financial wellness involves the process of learning how to successfully manage financial expenses” (UC Davis, n.d). While it can be super stressful, it’s important to not ignore this topic. Instead, manage your stress with a budget! It might seem difficult at first, but anyone can do it with practice. If this seems intimidating, you can always visit Mac’s Money Centre. The Money Centre is a money management resource that offers students one-on-one money coaching, resources such as budgeting templates, tax and investment information, and workshops! We highly recommend you use this free resource from the Student Success Centre.

 Here are a few simple steps to get you started! 

1. Calculate your expenses

    • Write down your anticipated expenses like tuition, textbooks, groceries, coffee, rent, cellphone bills, etc. 
    • If possible, base your estimates off of past bank statements. If you can’t (i.e., it’s your first time grocery shopping for yourself), no problem, just look up estimates!

2. Now it’s time to calculate your income

    • Estimate how much you will save up this summer if you’re currently working.
    • If you plan on working during the semester, estimate how many hours you would like to work—most working students work between 5 and 12 hours a week.
    • If you have an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan), estimate how much you may or may not need from it.
    • If you are eligible for OSAP or other government funding, check your estimates. If you haven’t applied yet, this is a friendly reminder that you should!

3. From these numbers, create financial goals 

    • Be realistic and don’t create impossible savings goals; give yourself some leeway to spend a reasonable amount on hobbies, eating out, shopping, etc. 
    • Save for the unexpected. It’s never a bad idea to put money away for unanticipated costs.
    • Even if you barely save each month, it will add up in the long run and still make a difference. To appreciate the power of compound interest, check out an online calculator

4.  Start tracking your spending

    • This might help you realize that you are spending way more money than you would like on something like coffee, clothes, Uber, etc. 
    • Adjust your financial goals accordingly. 

Piles of Canadian coins

Many of you will also be receiving OSAP. If you filed on time, you can expect to receive your funding at the beginning of each semester. Funding is now deposited directly to McMaster and the remainder after tuition and fees are paid is deposited into your account. For some of you, this will be a lot of money to receive at once. It’s important that you keep in mind that this money has to last the entirety of the semester. A lot of students make large purchases with their OSAP, like a new laptop. Sometimes these purchases are important, or even necessary. We just want to advise that if you do make these large purchases, you should also have a plan for managing the rest of your money. 

No matter what, please don’t spend your OSAP all at once. We know it’s tempting, but you will regret it. The year can seem very long when you do not have the financial means of ensuring that you have everything you need because those Gucci slides just couldn’t wait. 

We would recommend that you try to do a monthly budget. Remember that you will receive more funding in September than you will in January to help with things like covering the upfront costs of textbooks and moving.

We also understand that there is a lot of worry about the recent changes to OSAP. You might be wondering how the changes will affect you. Visit the Office of Student Financial Aid if you have questions. They will be more than happy to discuss your worries and clarify how these changes may or may not affect you. 

Finally, we want you to know that if you are ever having a financial emergency, there are supports in place to help you. If you find yourself in a situation where you are struggling to afford rent and/or food, you could be eligible for emergency funding, or an emergency meal card to eat on campus. The information surrounding this program can be found at the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships website.

We know that finances can be stressful, but remember that you aren’t alone! You and everyone else will be learning about the ins and outs of money while in university. Embrace the challenge (even though we know this is easier said than done). Remember, McMaster has supports to help you through financial challenges. Reach out and connect if you need help. There are some fantastic folks here who genuinely want you to thrive. 

Your Pals,
Tabatha, Tory and Emily

References

UC Davis. (n.d.). Financial Wellness. Retrieved from UC Davis.

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At this point in the summer you may be thinking about money. University is expensive and is often the first time students have some financial independence, which can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, it is very important that you stay on top of your financial situation. Today we will discuss financial wellness and give you some tips on how to ensure that your finances stay under control.

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