Money What…? On Not Being Scared of that Paper Stuff

So I’ve always been rather dismal with money. Truth. Oh, I’ve tried. I’ve accounted for my spending over periods of one or two months, only to conveniently misplace the journal or notebook I was using to track everything in the first place.
I’ve used every excuse under the sun:

Save? I’m not making enough money to save!

Numbers? I’m terrible with numbers.

Source: Or, my best yet: I’ll manage my money when I’m earning those 60Gs. Then I’ll be a savings superstar. The reality? Money management practices apply anytime, whether you are earning five dollars an hour or 50. So this summer (wait, not even - this month), I finally got serious about my spending practices. And serious about saving for a rainy day (sidenote: has it ever rained so much in Toronto before this summer?? just saying). Here is what I’ve learned so far: money management is not hard! C’mon, we write huge papers and /or perform spectacular lab experiments, juggle extra-curriculars, jobs, friends, families, food, travels and our own well-being. Budgeting and spending wisely? You bet we can do it. It just requires discipline and consistency, like most things we truly want. So here goes. Some resources that I have made me more aware of how I spend and what I can do to budget, cut corners, and yes, save for that soggy day. Even as a student. Welcome to one of the most comprehensive money-management tools I have found online. If you haven’t already signed up for Mint, give it a try! The best part? You can see all of your accounts and bills in one place. Mint allows you to create budgets unique to you, and also sends email or text notifications to you informing you of upcoming bill payments. Source: An Ode to Glass Jars: Living life with your eyes open Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s website has one line which really kind of struck me. It reads: “Live life with your eyes open”. Seeing as how I’ve been avoiding dealing with my spending habits, this one sentence hit home. Gail’s money management website is a treasure chest of tips, advice, worksheets, and concrete strategies to get you spending wisely. If you’re like me and you find it challenging to keep yourself on track, try Gail’s solution: Keep track of how much you spend with a simple system of glass jars. Set aside three or four glass jars- one each for Transportation, Food, Entertainment, Clothes/Gifts and Everything Else, or additional categories you feel are relevant. Go ahead and begin each month with a set amount of cash in each jar. You can see how much you are spending on a daily or weekly basis, and when one of the given jars is running low on cash, you know to scale back on your spending. I’m a big fan of this strategy because for me, it transforms the act of budgeting from something rather vague to something I can see and touch. She also has a great series called "Financial Focus in your 20s’, which is basically a guide to the kinds of things we should be thinking of as we move through our university years and into those first few jobs. Trust, once you start reading, you can’t stop!
Saving = Swag. Source:
Give me Back my Five Bucks Ah, yes, Krystal Yee’s amazing personal finance blog. Based in Vancouver, Krystal was once in the same boat I am- meaning: getting out of her degree with a lot of student loans. Krystal does a fantastic job of documenting her own journey of getting out of that debt. When I read about her experiences, strategies and tips, I always come away with something I can use.
I also enjoy reading the comments that people post in responses to the blog: folks write in from the world over with their own strategies and innovative ways of spending wisely. Definitely makes me feel less alone in this journey towards better spending habits. Here’s to living our year with our eyes open, U of T! -Aziza

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