Life @ U of T

Saving money for the holidays

It is officially December- which means it will very soon be the holidays, and that it’s time for our wallets to become weighted with the joy of our loved ones. Living on a student budget is not easy, particularly if it contrasts heavily with how you were living before- which is the case for me, at least. Last year, I had a full time job come holiday season, so buying gifts for all the cherished people in my life wasn’t too difficult a task. This year however, I don’t work as many hours a week- couple this with twice the amount of friends to shop for and the fact that we’re already constantly under financial constraints due to tuition and textbooks and general surviving. It’s time to think about effective, everyday ways to save money- whether it be just cutting back on general costs to cope with a mournful bank account, or to up money for getting people presents.

Patrick Star the cartoon character holding up money sporting a christmas hat and saying "I have 3 dollars"
Me this holiday season… and every other time of the year

The best way to start is to follow a piece of advice I should have listened to at the beginning of this semester- and that I’ll definitely be applying for the next. Buy your textbooks used, and sell them when you’re done with them! There’s even a Facebook group dedicated to this- I strongly encourage joining it. Even if you’re looking for a specific book and don’t see it listed for sale, you can make a post requesting anyone that does have it contact you.

There’s also the website  Carousell,  where University of Toronto students have their own page for buying and selling used textbooks, clothes, furniture and more.

Make sure you’re taking advantage of student discounts. Because there are so many students in Toronto, many places on and offline offer these. Here’s a list online of 20 places that have student discounts- including TIFF and Ripley’s !

Save $2-6 every day by investing in a coffee maker (high tech or low tech). I received a low-tech, low-maintenance one from a friend and I’ve saved a bunch of time and money-except for when those Starbucks holiday drinks tempt me, or I’m up all night at Robarts and need a caffeine boost.

Why is it that I will spend $20 on a t-shirt and feel really guilty about it, but dishing out $30 on a single meal is no biggy? Food is the biggest culprit of my life for the loss of funds. I’m a poor person with a rich person’s appetite, I guess. One of the biggest and hardest rules to follow for saving money; limit the amount of times you eat out in a week. For me to accomplish this, I find it helpful to designate a certain amount of money for spending on food based on what I have examined to be reasonable for myself.

A cartoon panel in which the character is frugal throughout most aspects of life, but when it comes to fast food they shamelessly spend money
This cartoon panel is painfully accurate

To avoid spending the big bucks on groceries, I also tend to make sure I don’t go shopping when I’m really hungry- because everything looks delicious when all you’ve eaten that day is a carrot stick at 8am.

I’m still learning how to quell the money-spending temptation- as my wallet can attest to. I’ve gone so far as to leave my debit card at home when I go to class, which has led both to some awkward situations and the relief of not being ABLE to give in to temptation. Hopefully I get the hang of it in time to afford to get my mom a decent Christmas gift.

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for cutting down costs, heaven knows I need them!

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