FINANCIAL TIPS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

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Canada Mortgage & Financial Group (CMFG) understands that settling into a new country can be difficult due to culture shock and language barriers. We are here to ease the transition of newcomers, including international students.

If you are one of the international students in colleges and universities, you are currently getting settled into your new semester. As soon as you arrive in Canada, it is important that you start to think of your personal finances, whether you are paying your own way, receiving help or using financial aid. CMFG is here to support and guide you through your new journey.

College is an expensive experience and poor spending practices can ruin it. Here are major tips to get you started on your financial journey.

BUDGETING

This might be a new concept for some of you, especially if you are dependent on a third party for financial support. However, having a functional budget is essential for your financial growth and management. More importantly, sticking to your budget.

Begin by mapping out your various streams of income, including money from parents, jobs, loans and grants. Then categorize your expenses. Separate important expenses from sporadic expenses. If you receive foreign currency, make sure to accommodate for exchange and transfer fees.

The trick to financial responsibility is sticking to it. Make smart money choices like low cost or free social activities. Curb your habits and most importantly stay on track with your budget and its developed changes. Try homemade coffee instead of your favorite cappuccino.

ONLINE SERVICES AND APPS

As a college student, you are always on the go, and luckily technology is here to ease your daily lives. There are many online services and tools available for international students to manage their finances. Apps like Mint can help you curb your spending habits. You can check back and see your spending track record, enabling you to improve them. It tracks all spending and categorizes it; good help for maintaining your budget.

In addition to money management apps, make sure you set up online services with your bank. Be sure to always protect your personal information, especially on the internet. Do not share your password or Social Insurance Number (SIN) with anyone. As an international student you face a greater risk of identity fraud. Always check your bank and credit statements regularly, and immediately report any suspicious activity.

MINIMIZE STUDENT DEBTS

As a student, there are several ways to minimize your debts. International students in Canada can work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full time on holiday. Get extra income by getting a part time job to pay for current living expenses.

Set financial limits on your spending. You can start by setting a reasonably low spending limit on your credit card. When going out with friends you can be tempted to spend beyond your budget but remember to stick to the plan. Use discounts; there are ample local businesses who offer discounts for students. Check online for discounts targeted at students. Make use of them!

Be cautious when considering a credit card. As an international student this is extremely important. It is easy to see credit cards as free money but racking up late fees and high interest payments can be detrimental for your credit score. Explore the pros and cons of your personal situation before signing up for a credit card. If you do get one, consider a no fee, low interest rate and a reasonable spending limit -spend only what you can repay.

Unless it’s necessary, stay away from the campus bookstore, where prices are likely to be the highest. Be aware that some professors add “suggested materials” to their book list, which may not be necessary for passing the class. Learn to look over your syllabus to weed out the necessary texts from the suggested ones. Avoid full priced textbooks. There are lots of ways you can save money on textbook expenses such as kijiji.  There are also great resources available online to rent textbooks.

INVESTING

Finally, making the correct investment choices is the way to solidify your finances now and in the future.

Contact CMFG to discuss your options.