Buck Up!

Is money on your mind? Cash is a major topic for current and prospective students. University ain’t cheap either. And Toronto happens to be one of the most expensive cities in Canada to live in. My poor wallet!

My wallet open in my hand, with no money whatsoever to be found inside
Notice how my wallet is decidedly empty (Photo by Zachary Biech)

As an Albertan, the first things I noticed when I came to U of T were the high taxes and gas prices. I pay attention to this stuff (only when it threatens my wallet). Also, keep track of how you spend your meal plan, you might get more out of it than I did in first year (though I don’t regret all those delicious carrot muffins).

I learned from my first academic year that financial stability is key in student life. I worked with my parents at our family accounting firm the summer after my first year so I’ve learned a lot about bookkeeping and personal money management. I’ll share my strategies so you don’t have to take accounting courses!

I make weekly budgets and do my weekly bookkeeping. Managing money is actually that simple. All you need to do is keep your receipts during the week, sort them into expense types and record them. If you keep running totals, you can see how much you spend monthly. If you set budgets for yourself in those expense areas, you can see how well you are following your goals. At the very least, doing up weekly budgets and trying some bookkeeping helps you think about your wallet, right?

A small memo sheet with each expense in the week listed, with a corresponding budget, and a total budget at the bottom
Here’s an old weekly budget of mine (Photo by Zachary Biech)
A professional-looking printout with expense categories and their corresponding amounts, with total actual and budgeted amounts at the bottom
I use Simply Accounting to create monthly expense reports, and I can even compare them to set budgets (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Scholarships can make a huge difference, and there are many available to support Indigenous students. The jackpot is on First Nations House’s website. The First Nations House grant can be applied for any time before April, as its Nov. 1 deadline isn’t firm.

http://www.fnh.utoronto.ca/Current-Students/Financial-Aid/Bursaries-And-Scholarships.htm

http://www.adm.utoronto.ca/financial%20aid/undergraduategrantapp.pdf

Applications for the Métis Nation of Ontario Bursary, Rosalind Murray Bradford Scholarship and the Edward and Dorothy Dawson Award for Aboriginal Students are due on November 30. There’s also a link to the Canada Post Aboriginal Incentive Award for students returning to studies after a year off and one to the AANDC Bursaries Search Tool.

http://www.adm.utoronto.ca/pdf_applications/metis_nation_app.pdf

http://www.adm.utoronto.ca/pdf_applications/metis_nation_part2.pdf

http://www.adm.utoronto.ca/pdf_applications/bradford_rm_app.pdf

http://www.adm.utoronto.ca/pdf_applications/dawson_app.pdf

http://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/aboutus/community/aboriginaleducation/default.jsf

Indspire’s application deadlines are June 1 and November 1 annually and you can re-apply as many times as you want. There’s a how-to booklet for the application, and even a student mentorship program you can check out if you need more direction.

https://indspire.ca/programs/building-brighter-futures/

https://indspire.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ID224-Indspire-2014-15_aug18_web.pdf

Filling out applications can be very confusing, and can really turn life into a cyclone. I’ve been there many times. Have you ever watched water going down the drain? That’s what my brain looks like when I try to fill out forms.

Not to worry, First Nations House’s Coordinator of Academic Supports, Shannon Simpson, is the person to talk to. She can help you figure out these applications, and may even find you new opportunities you hadn’t even considered. She’s got your back.

shannon.simpson@utoronto.ca

Managing money is key to university life and it’s actually very simple. I highly recommend that you try to access these financial tools! Try try try! It’s worth it. Always.

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