Nearly half of students surveyed say social outings and eating at restaurants cost more than they anticipated, followed by groceries and tuition, according to a recent student finances poll.
“Figuring out what the school year is really going to cost is something that can make a big difference once the semester starts,” advises Laura Plant, director of student banking at RBC. She offers the following tips to help parents and students budget for the school year ahead:
1. Figure out your costs — estimate expenses on the high side if you don’t have an exact amount and rework the figures once you know the actuals. Talk to upper-year students who may have insights on costs of academic conferences, textbooks, and other necessary tools.
2. Add up all sources of income to see you how much cash you are working with for the year. Think about savings, investments, gifts, and financial assistance and scholarships from both government and your educational institution. Sort everything into two categories — “sure thing” and “maybe.”
3. Separate your wants and needs, prioritize, and adjust. Consider making some lifestyle changes to help keep expenses in line.
4. Use an online calculator to help with budgeting. The RBC student calculator, available online at rbcroyalbank.com/student, provides hints on what you might have overlooked, such as costs for an internet connection or trips home.
5. Regularly review your spending and income/savings throughout the year and adjust as necessary.