Back to Blog

How To Stretch Your School Dollar

Not only is school expensive, it’s also often the first time someone must take financial responsibility for their life, and there’s lots to learn. Luckily, being a student offers some benefits when it comes to your purchasing power (ie: student discounts). We have a few suggestions, some useful tips, and a few tricks up our sleeve to help you make your school dollar super-stretchy.

Budget, Budget, Budget

Did we mention you should budget? This is a skill, that if learned well and consistently applied, will help you make better financial decisions your whole life. If you keep track of your spending, you’re able to find out things like just how much you actually spent on coffee this week, and if there are ways to keep you caffeinated for less. There are lots of different ways to do it, and maybe now is the time to check out a few to see what works best for you.

Luckily, if the simple spreadsheet isn’t happening for you, there are plenty of apps out there to help. Check with your bank to see what they offer or look on the app store to see what others recommend. One thing to remember is to use a free one; there are plenty of good, free budgeting apps that can help you keep track of your school dollar.

If you haven’t already done so, we recommend making use of our great budgeting worksheet to help you get started and plan out the big picture budgeting this year.

Another Trip Around the Block

We’re really lucky to live in a time when re-using (and reducing our consumption!) is made easy. You may find that many of your courses this year offer online textbooks, but if you do have to purchase a physical textbook, buying used not only helps you save money but is good for the environment too! Campus bookstores usually carry used textbooks, however they tend to go fast, so we recommend checking it out as soon as possible to ensure you don’t miss out. If you do miss out, there are many online sites that will sell the textbooks you need. Just make sure it’s the right edition!

If you need to furnish a new apartment or dorm room, Ikea is always an option, but buying used can be great here too. Now’s the chance to look for treasures in the local thrift store, or scan Craigslist or Kijiji for good deals. Don’t forget about Facebook Marketplace, which is rapidly gaining popularity in many places, and there are also Instagram accounts dedicated to selling used and vintage housewares that can make your apartment look lit.

Are You Gonna Go My Way

Things are going to be a little different this fall with many schools choosing to focus on distance learning. This is a good opportunity to take a look at your travel expenses. What’s the most cost-effective way to get around? Luckily most major schools are in cities with many transportation options. So, if you’re not going to campus very often, is it a monthly bus pass you need, or only a pay-per-trip? Do you have a car or use a car share or Uber Pool? By the way, ZipCar offers student discounts in many locations!

On the Student Discount Train

Did you know that there are discounts for students absolutely everywhere? When you’re making big purchases for school, companies like Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft offer discounts on hardware and software that you’re going to need for class. Shop online a lot? Many internet providers offer a special rate for students for their wi-fi (and mobile!) needs. Amazon Prime offers a discount membership for students so you can get it cheap and get it fast!

Most retail stores offer student discounts, including places like Best Buy and Staples, not to mention stuff is always on sale at fashion retailers like TopShop and Aritzia. Lots of restaurants offer discounts too! Even if they don’t have it posted anywhere just double check by asking. We know national chains like Burger King, Dairy Queen and the Hard Rock Café offer student discounts, but don’t forget to check with your favourite local hangout too!

Don’t Forget HigherEdPoints

Most people think of HigherEdPoints for the big costs, like tuition. But you can use loyalty points for other expenses too. In Ontario, at U of T, the St. George and Scarborough campuses, you can use HigherEdPoints to top up your TCard to pay for textbooks, printing, photocopying, food, vending, and for goods and services at various university departments. Additionally, by using HigherEdPoints to pay for your tuition, you’ll have extra cash to pay for everything else, helping your school dollar go further.

We recommend chatting with your family about how to use HigherEdPoints to pay for school.

Share HigherEdPoints with others and turn loyalty points into funding for education!