How to save money when you're in a pinch

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: JESSICA THOMPSON
Balancing school, work and a social life can be difficult and adding a financial burden can make it even more difficult. The Interrobang has some tips to have a stress-free, and hopefully debt-free school experience.

Debt is just one of many different aspects of a student's life that can be stressful, but it's not uncommon. It can be hard to balance school, work, family and a social life and balancing your finances is another tricky part to get under control.

However, it doesn't have to be overly stressful if you're organized and as cautious as possible with your finances.

There is always a difference between spending savvy and being cheap and it's always better to live within your means, rather than living beyond. We should always remember that financial success depends on the way you're spending your money and getting rid of the bad habits.

The Interrobang has five tips that can help you live on a reasonable and stress-free budget, while stretching your dollar in the most responsible and reasonable way.

1. Textbooks

With education comes textbooks and many students know the struggle of forking out plenty of cash on new academic books. One of the best ways to save some money while still purchasing textbooks include purchasing used textbooks or renting the books. If you do end up buying new or used textbooks, trying to sell them to other students, or back at the bookstore when you no longer need them is a quick way to make a few extra dollars.

2. Food

Cutting the number of times you eat out every month is important, that way you can save a lot of money. It's easy to not pack a lunch and just find something in or around campus, but taking a few extra minutes the night before class to pack a lunch will not only save you time in the morning, but will save you a decent amount of cash in the long run. Treating yourself every once in a while is good, but buying meals all the time will be costly. Going out with friends for a meal is nice, but again limiting how many times it happens might be a way to help save you some cash.

3. Social activities

Spending time with friends is the perfect way to relax and get your mind off of schoolwork. However, always going out can start to put a hole in your wallet and make you even more stressed. Instead of hitting the town, why not have a gathering at home, or take advantage of the often free events happening on campus? Take advantage of activities on campus, such as movie nights, social events and team games as well. This way you're still having a good time with friends and saving some money as well. If you're really into going out, perhaps looking for deals such as cheap Tuesday movie deals is right for you.

4. Money jars

This is a simple trick that can add up in a decent amount of time. With any leftover change you receive from your purchases, that odd dime you find on the ground or that extra toonie tucked in your pants' pocket, put it in a jar and don't use it until the jar is all filled up. Afterwards you can count how much you've saved and either roll it up and bring it to the bank to deposit, or use it when you're running low. It's a great way to save money and can be a nice and helpful surprise when you need it the most.

5. Coupons / loyalty cards / price matching

Whether it be grocery shopping, dining out or even doing social activities, looking for coupons, is a smart and sensible way to shop and have fun doing activities. Whether it be through weekly flyers in physical copy or online, coupons can be your saving grace to purchasing items you need.

Another good option for grocery shopping would be price matching. This takes a bit of time to do, but it will save you in the long run. Just make sure to bring the flyers with you while shopping, to justify the matching, as well as double check with your local grocery store to see if they price match or not, since not all stores do.

Finally joining loyalty programs is also a good idea, because not only do they allow you to earn points, but you may also get some bonus items or have enough points to cash in on your purchase. Some loyalty programs require a small payment, but you can ask about this before signing up, and deciding if it's worth it for you. Overall, loyalty programs tend to be worth it and a great way to save, while still purchasing what you need.