Our financial survival month wrapped up yesterday with the Financial Survival Fair which was held on campus at the New College student Lounge. If you, like me, had the pleasure of attending, you will no doubt agree that it was a very successful event. If you weren’t able to attend, not to worry, I’m here to fill you in and share all the exciting advice that was presented.
It was my first time attending the event, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being a rather frugal student, I was pessimistic about what additional tips and financial advice they could offer that I didn’t already know. However, it turns out they had plenty to offer, even for a coupon snipping veteran like myself, including delicious free sandwiches (both chicken and vegetarian!). The event was hosted by none other than our very own Maria Jardim, the Information and Outreach Coordinator here at the Family Care Office. Maria introduced the guest speakers including David Sidebottom from Admission and Awards, Krista Steeves, the Assistant Director of Student Services at the School of Graduate Studies, as well as a panel of both undergraduate and graduate students, including Joanna Anderson, Carla Rodney, and Ahmed Abdelrahman, who all shared their own tips on financial survival.
The event started off with David who shared some very relevant tax advice for students. He noted that full time students who receive a T4A from the University (for grants, bursaries, and scholarships received) are not required to claim it as part of their income on their taxes. This was news to me, as I had claimed it for the last three years. If you were unaware of this as well, you can always go back and correct it, which will hopefully mean a larger return from the Government this tax season. Hooray!
David was followed by Krista, who shared some advice more specifically geared towards graduate students. She spoke of the “Emergency Grant Program,” which aims “to assist currently registered, full-time, graduate students beyond their first year of study who generally are not part of the funded cohort and who encounter an unanticipated serious financial emergency.” However, the grant is not considered to be a source of routine or long-term funding. She also noted that many of the external funding applications available for Graduate students are applied for well in advance of the expected study session. So she urged Grad students to look out for and remember to apply as early as possible.
And finally, we had our student guest panel speak, which was my favourite part of the event. There were so many helpful tips offered, I decided to share as many of them as possible below:
Joanna Anderson’s Tips:
• Shop at No Frills, it is by far one of the cheapest grocery stores in the GTA and often has $1 sales
• Check out coupon websites including: www.brandsaver.ca, www.save.ca, www.stretcher.com, www.thefrugallife.com, and www.tipnut.com
• Make your own shampoo with water and baking soda *search online for the recipe
• Meat can become expensive, consider switching to a full balanced vegetarian diet
• Ask for samples from your Doctor and Dentist (they often have Aspirin, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to give out)
• If you a Bank of Montreal student customer, they are giving out free Student Price Cards (SPC cards), which offer reasonable discounts at a number of stores and restaurants in the GTA
Ahmed Abdelrahman’s Tips:
• Checkout www.freecycle.org, which is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reusing and keeping good stuff out of landfills.
• Suggested checking out the store Once Upon a Child (2 locations in the GTA, check out their website at www.onceuponachild.com), which offers gently used children’s clothing at extremely reasonable prices.
• Make a target or set budget of your expenses to help keep you on track and to eliminate over spending on unnecessary items.
Carla Rodney’s Tips:
•Consider bulk shopping with friends, grocery items are cheaper that way, especially if you split up the items and costs with a small group
•Cook in bulk, package it, and put in freezer
•Check out events on campus if you have the time, many of them, including the Financial Survival Fair, offer free lunch and snacks, which a great way to get free food
The main part of the event wrapped up with a number of raffles and prizes being given away. The first raffle was for all those who submitted their financial tips and advice leading up to the Financial Survival Fair, the winner being Tonya Callaghan. The remainder of the raffle prizes were awarded to all those who attended the event. The full list of prizes included two Oral B electric toothbrushes, two gift bags from the GSU consisting of a tote bag, water bottle and t-shirt, two UofT coffee mugs with a $5 Tim Horton’s card inside, a family pass to the Hart House Farm Sugaring Off event, one full week day camp or two week half day camp pass for one child to be redeemed at UofT’s Faculty of Physical Education and Health, a $5 lunch for two at Hart House, two $50 gift cards for No Frills, a $50 gift card for Zellers, and last but not least, two Good Food boxes. For all those who missed out, hopefully this will encourage you and get you excited about participating in the fair next year!