As students settle into one of the most unusual school years, it’s completely normal to be experiencing stress or anxiety – especially when it comes to finances.
“So much has changed in the last six months, and many students at UBC are understandably having a hard time getting settled or planning ahead financially,” comments Kendra Coleman, RBC On Campus Advisor at UBC. “However, with a few weeks under your belt, you may be starting to get a clearer picture of your financial situation for the school year ahead. Checking in with your financial needs now is a great way to feel more in control of your money, and to make sure you stay on track this year.”
As the first half of the semester comes to a close, ask yourself these three questions for a quick financial check-up:
1. How healthy are my credit habits?
Credit can be a great financial tool to manage your cash flow and to tap into benefits such as rewards, but in an uncertain year, it may become tempting to stretch your budget by leveraging credit in unhealthy ways. As you begin to settle into a financial routine for the year ahead, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and ensure your credit habits remain under control.
Ask yourself: are you paying your credit card bill off in full, and on time, at the end of your billing cycle? Does your monthly balance fall under 35% of your total limit? If you find that you’re struggling to meet these conditions, you may want to think about methods to manage your credit use, such as limiting your number of monthly credit transactions, or using your credit card only for major purchases only and cash or debit for the rest.
Your credit history can impact many aspects of your life down the road. Making sure you have healthy credit habits now as a student will only help to prevent costly mistakes and make your life easier later on!
2. Are there easy ways to save time and money?
As a cash-strapped student, one of the smartest things you can do is to make sure your money works for you. Whether you’re shelling out on everyday purchases or even on rent, rewards programs can ensure that you’re getting some of your money back in the form of points or rewards – meaning that you get the most out of every dollar you spend. Likewise, don’t forget that time is money, too! Look for solutions to help you streamline your daily life – such as speeding up your job search with Prepped, which offers free career resources and a personalized program to help you land your dream gig. Your time is so valuable, and by tapping into the right tools, you can make sure every minute counts!
3. Are your financial tools working hard for you?
Seems basic but making sure you have the right bank accounts set up for your specific needs is more important than ever this year. Especially if you’re living away for the first time or are an international student, the last thing you need is the stress of being far from home while undergoing a financial hiccup!
As physical distancing requirements may place pressure on your access to basic services, ensuring that your financial institution offers secure, online banking services will be increasingly critical for keeping connected to your finances. For students coming from abroad, you may also want to look closely at the timing and type of your study permit, as these can potentially impact your access to credit or influence the accounts that work best for you.
If you’re unfamiliar or feeling confused by the various types of credit cards or bank accounts available, feel free to reach out to an advisor at RBC or another bank. They’re happy to walk you through your options, to help you select the right account or service, and to ensure you’re always connected to the banking solutions you need.
Remember: when it comes to finances (or otherwise), this isn’t the year to be perfect, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed! But by starting out strong and checking in with yourself early, you can ensure you stay on track through the new school year ahead.
To connect with an RBC advisor for support or advice, please visit rbc.com/oncampus or drop by your On-Campus branch!
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.