Creating a Budget


Many students underestimate the importance of budgeting. Having a realistic budget is critical; it gives you a sense of how much money you will need each month, and prevents you from finding yourself in a situation where you are having financial difficulties in the middle of your term.


Creating a budget is necessary for all students; Band funding typically is not sufficient to cover the costs of schooling and living expenses. This is especially true for students studying in high-cost areas, such as the Lower Mainland.  First Nations Financial Fitness provides information, tools, and resources which you may find helpful.


Check out the CanLearn website for a Student Financial Assistance Estimator. Even though this is designed for students who are intending to apply for student loans, it has a “needs assessment calculator”, which can give you an idea of how much money you will need.

Some things to think about when budgeting for school

  • How much are you willing to spend on a place to live?
  • Can you afford to have a place on your own, or are you going to need a roommate?
  • How much can you afford to spend on food?
  • How much will you have to spend on childcare?
  • Can you afford to have phone, internet, and/or cable TV?
  • If you have a vehicle, is it cheaper to drive to school and pay for parking, or take the bus?
  • If you are getting a student loan, when do you actually get the money in your bank account?
  • If you are Band funded, when do you get your cheque?

Money Saving Tips

  • Housing is typically your largest monthly expense. You may end up having to live with roommates to save money. Use your connections – see if anyone on your social networks has a lead on a place to stay.
  • Grocery shop with a list and stick to it so you don’t buy expensive impulse items that may throw off your budget. Whenever possible try to buy in bulk.
  • Take advantage of flyers! Shop sale items and use coupons whenever possible to help reduce costs.
  • Get your U-Pass (bus pass) as early as possible, to avoid paying extra for transit.
  • Ask about student discounts – for groceries, travel, restaurants, etc.
  • Join a club on campus! There is a wide range of clubs covering a variety of interests ranging from sports to writing poetry and everything in between. This can help you save on your entertainment budget.
  • Shop around for the best long distance phone rates – or use Skype.
  • If you plan on driving, consider carpooling.
  • Use the campus gym – it’s already included in your school fees.
  • Dining out is expensive! Brown bag your lunch as much as possible.
  • Buy used textbooks whenever you can. If you are sponsored by your Band or agency, make sure you double check rules and maximums around textbook purchase. Save all of your receipts!

Find out how to maintain a work-school balance.