Getting a Job After University: Where to Begin

Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of graduation? Check out this blog post where Cheap Students covers how to beef up your resume, and better prepare yourself for graduation.

Grocery Shopping Basics

An introduction on how to grocery shop better, save money and cut down on grocery bills in the future. Contains links to Canadian grocery flyers as well as prices to look for.

Textbooks: A How to Guide

A post covering how to purchase and sell textbooks at the beginning of each semester. Textbooks often cost quite a lot purchased brand new, use these tips to save money on your next textbook purchases.

Learning Tab

Check out the learning tab to view free online resources where you can learn new languages, develop your computer skills and find ways to further develop your resume.

Job Hunting

Check out the job hunting section, filled with resume, cover letter and job interview tips and resources all to help throughout the job hunting process.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Years Resolutions

Most students when they think of new years resolutions think about getting fit, losing weight, getting better marks at school, but its less likely that the first resolution idea that comes to mind is becoming healthier financially. Unfortunately one of the reasons why students struggle with money and in turn debt after university is the lack of planning and often crazy spending habits throughout the year.

One of the objectives I hope to achieve with this blog this year is to further develop content that is more specific to help students really save money, it's been about a year and I hope to continue to offer unique and helpful content to university students.

Some things students should remember over the next year;
  • Despite how irritating budgeting can be develop some sort of one budget or make use of online resources to do so. 
  • Review your previous spending habits from last year and get a good idea on what you did well and what categories had your highest amounts of spending. These are the places you can work on, or continue to excel in in order to save more money in 2013
  • Start thinking about summer jobs, yah I know its a jerk move on my part to even start mentioning that
  • Figure out how much money you will have to spend on tuition, books and other school related expenses and figure out employment accordingly. Do you need extra cash? Maybe find a part time job for next semester.
  • Do you want to try and reduce spending on credit and paying bills in full?
Long Term
These are some goals that need to be measurable, make sure that they are even possible as well. These goals could be related to a variety of topics
  • Amount of money you hope to have in your savings account by a certain date
  • When you want to start paying off your student loans and within what amount of time
It's important to set goals, both long and short, I know personally as a student I tend to think much more day to day, which leads to surprises at the end of the month when you look at both your chequing account, savings account or your mastercard/visa bill. January is the time where everyone reflects on their year and tries to improve for the new year. Make sure your not one of those people that flakes out on their resolutions, it may not seem as important now, but once you graduate you might wish you had of kept your finances on track. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas is now in less than a week and for most of us we finished shopping for Christmas presents. Despite my best efforts to complete all of my Christmas shopping, the 3 weeks of exams and final projects don't tend to seem like real life, and once your out its almost Christmas. So for those who are still haven't purchased everything they need, here are some great ideas, some of which don't even need to be shipped. For the most part I like to completely avoid malls since you end up spending about 30 minutes trying to find a spot.

Magazine Subscription
Check out Rogers Magazine service for great deals on magazine subscriptions and you Air Miles and Aeroplan members can also get bonuses for purchasing subscriptions.
*Note today is the last day forty of free super saving shipping to arrive before Christmas
Buy a wide variety of products and purchase over the $25 to get free shipping as well.
Make sure to check out their Top Holiday Deals section but make sure to check that the products are available once they are in your cart.

*Use the ship to store function to go and pick up your purchase, ship to home for the holiday's is no longer available
Purchase books at much cheaper prices than in the store, and sign up for plum rewards to save more. Also you can purchase a variety of home decor products, stationary including Moleskin notebooks for friends that love to write and keep notes in something pretty.

For those who love technology, as of today there are 3 days left for ground shipping and it's free for orders over $20.
For items like DVD's and box sets you may be able to find a better deal at Amazon, check your prices. It's often better to buy from Futureshop for electronics since you can go in store whenever there are problems or issues with the product and returns are much easier as well.

Groupon/Team Buy/Living Social/Wag Jag
Make sure to check out all of these sites certificates to redeem the gift are available once the daily deal ends, so keep that in mind. But these gifts are simple don't require any shipping and for those who hate wrapping can be put inside a Christmas card. These gifts can be anything from trips to manicures and pedicures

Manicure/Pedicure/Spa Treatments from a local spa
This something you can pick up as long as the location is open, but it's highly unlikely you will be waiting in line or fighting anyone for a parking spot, plus this is usually a great gift for your mom.

LCBO/Liquor Store
Another great idea and something I've done in the past is buying someone's favourite liquor, and you can often purchase these in gift sets as well. There's also the option of picking a variety of unique Christmas beers and it's something that you know they will love and can even consume on Christmas. Check out the LCBO's Gift Finder guide

Even if you aren't the greatest baker in the world, baking cookies and decorating them yourself and then packaging them up nicely is a great personalized present that is also easy on the budget. Check out Pinterest for some great baking ideas as well as just simply searching google or checking out Kraft Kitchens as well

What last minute gift ideas are you thinking about this year?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cheap Eats: Part 2

This is the second post of 2 covering the topic of how to find cheap places to eat through non-mobile means, but instead through tips from this blog post or printable coupons. This post will focus on the following options that includes;
  • Coupons
  • Daily Deals
  • Places you never thought of
I know most people associate coupons with crazy ladies that are addicted to cutting coupons and show up on reality tv shows. But it's important to note that it's not a bad thing to whip out a coupon here and there especially when its going to save you some money. A great website to check out is where you can sign up and then print off coupons for restaurants. Another great tip is to sign up for the newsletters of your favourite chain restaurants where they often send you emails with deals and promotions that you can use at their restaurants.

Daily Deals
Websites like are great websites where you can get coupons and savings for chain restaurants as well as local restaurants. Check out these sites often and you can even sign up for their newsletters to make sure you get the most up to date deals.

Places you never thought of
This section was one of the main reasons why I wanted write a post covering this topic. Going to the University of Guelph myself I realized that there was a great restaurant on campus as part of our Hotel and Tourism program. This restaurant is run by students and is part of their curriculum which leads to fairly good meals and really inexpensive prices. 

A list of a few great university/college campus restaurants
Niagara College-Benchmark
University of Guelph-P.J's
Humber College- The Humber Room
Algonquin College-Restaurant International
Fanshawe College- Saffron's Restaurant

How do you save while eating out?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Finding a Rental Home

It's almost that time of year when students have to start searching around for a rental home, and it's especially important to plan ahead. The earlier students start to look for rentals the better, since the best and often most affordable rental homes tend to disappear closer to the beginning of January. Unfortunately the time when students should be searching for a rental is right during exams for the fall semester or the first few weeks of school in January.

When searching for a house to rent check out websites like these;
Kijiji-Always a great option, and a variety of properties are posted on here
Craigslist-I know in the Guelph area, less are posted on craigslist, but it still is a great option
University classified website- At the University of Guelph is an excellent website to find student rentals

There are often other websites where you can find rentals and these can often be found simply by searching on Google

Make sure to act quickly when you find a rental ad online that you are interested in. The best advice is to call the personal who has listed the rental, you will get a quicker response and get priority over those who emailed simply because people don't check their emails as frequently.

Some things to think about when looking at a rental
  • Are utilities included? If they aren't you need to consider the following;
    • Is the heating electric or gas? You want gas since it's more efficient which means cheaper bills
    • Check out my article on saving money on cable & internet to reduce those costs
    • Ask when toilets and other water usage appliances function, if they have been recently replaced etc. You don't want toilets that run, it will burn through cash quickly.
Also check out this article from Learnvest

For those that only need a 4 month rental, those coming back for only a half semester etc.

Make sure to check out sublets, they are often excellent and cheaper alternatives than locking into a lengthy lease that you don't need. Often sublets are cheaper, have the flexibility of not being locked into a lease and sometimes have the benefit of utilities being included.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Black Friday Canadian Style

For those that don't know, Black Friday is an American tradition of sorts where stores hold sales with heavy discounts and bargains on the Friday of American thanksgiving. I don't really understand the concept, since Thanksgiving should be a time spent with family instead of fighting people for the newest Elmo, but hey to each their own. We thankfully are now able to benefit from these deals as Canadian retailers are fighting to prevent Canadian shoppers from heading across the border for American deals. Black Friday falls on November 23rd this year.
Check out the hours for malls near year, but it has been reported that Cadillac Fairview malls in Canada will be opening early on Black Friday with the Eaton's Centre opening at 6am while 8 other Cadillac malls will be opening at 7am.

One of my favourite websites (that I have been neglecting lately) is Red Flag Deals. They have a section specifically covering Black Friday. Check out that section of their website here. This not only covers Black Friday deals but Cyber Monday deals as well (predominantly online sales).

Black Friday is a great time to stock up on Christmas presents so it's definitely something you should keep in mind.

Make sure to check the Red Flag Deals page, its a great source for Black Friday sales and promotions and is updated quite frequently. I will also be retweeting deals on Twitter so make sure follow @cheapstudents

Image Source

What deals have you found in previous years on Black Friday? What are your shopping tips?

Monday, November 12, 2012


Since it's been almost a full year since the blog has been around I figured I should hold a giveaway. Starting November 13th until November 23rd readers will have the chance to win a $10 Tim Hortons gift card. Hopefully it will help you a bit so you can make it through exams, midterms and the final weeks of school.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Any questions about the giveaway or how the entries work feel free to comment below.

Thanks again and good luck :) You can also enter through Facebook here..

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post Bar Foods You Can Make Yourself

I started to realize this year especially that more than 50% of the money I take with me downtown ends up going towards post bar food. This covers everything from poutine to pita pit. I'm not recommending not eating after a night out, because it definitely helps. Instead I'm of course going to talking about a way to lower these costs so you can buy more alcohol or save some cash for your next night out.

So here are a few options for a nice post bar snack that can save you some money and ease the morning hangover.

Grilled Cheese
A serious classic, with a nice mix of carbs and grease and it's easy to make. The less intricate the cooking the better is what always works the best. Go with a basic cheese and bread or add meat, tomatoes, veggies or whatever else works for you.

Now these can be made with tortilla chips or crackers if you have them (triscuits often work well too). You can either grate cheese or just cut it up. Throw on some salsa and put it in the microwave for a minute or so.

Mac and cheese
Always a classic option post bar. It's hard to mess up, just try to avoid burning yourself. If your scared just buy kd cups instead, just add water and nuke them throw in the cheese mix.

Mini pizzas
You can make these with any sort of bread but the best options are with English muffins or pitas. Either grate or slice cheese, and use pasta sauce or pizza sauce, whatever you have on hand. Either microwave or put it in the oven to cook. You can add toppings including cold cuts, pepperoni or vegetables. Whatever you have lying around works.

Pasta with Red Sauce or Pesto
Boil up some pasta and then once your done just dump in pesto or red sauce from the fridge and stir, easy and tasty.

I hope these help you save some cash and ease those morning hangovers.

For those who like to plan ahead. You can always save some leftovers from dinner or make something awesome to heat up late at night.

What do you eat after the bar?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cheap Eats: Part 1

After living in the city of Guelph, Ontario for the last 4 years and being here for 12 months straight I realized that I had really not taken advantage of the wide variety of restaurants available within the city. I had previously stuck to chain restaurants or cooked at home, with the cooking at home always being a great cheap alternative. But I realized I wanted something more, and there definitely is a great way to do it without spending a ton of money (and local restaurants are most often cheaper or have better food at a comparable price to chains). I'm sure many people can relate, but just for another city. I feel almost the same way when it comes to places I've tried out in Toronto (where I'm originally from).

So the only real option was to start testing out local non-chain restaurants within the city and there were a few ways that I did it, and the first, mobile apps will be covered in this post.

There are quite a few mobile apps that are great sources of information in order to find restaurants you may never have heard of and/or find out reviews for the restaurants in order to make a better restaurant choice.

  • Urban Spoon- Has a list of top picks, restaurants that are highly rated in your city (based on your location) as well as a break down of restaurants by price. With a section called "Cheap Eats"
  • Street Food App- If you have an interest in something different than a restaurant, check out the Street Food App, which provides food truck locations for Boston, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. Choose your app based on the city you live.
  • Foursquare- It may not be the first thing you think of when someone suggests food. But foursquare is an excellent source for recommendations as well as check in deals when going to some restaurants. Some restaurants even offer special bonuses for location mayors.
  • Yelp-Check out this app for restaurant reviews as well, similar to Urban Spoon.
  • Groupon- and other daily deal sites. You can download the app, or check out their websites but you can often find great deals for local restaurants by purchasing daily deals. 
By checking out these free apps you are able to find deals as well as discover new restaurants and read reviews to get the best bang for your buck. 

What other apps do you use to find great restaurant deals?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Saving Money on Christmas Presents: Part 1

Christmas is the time of year where families get together, have dinners, exchange gifts and spend time together. Unfortunately the exchanging of gifts part is a lot harder for university students to do since we have zero money to begin with it. Personally I know I need to spend less than I did last year so this post is going to cover ways to spend less but still have great presents for your loved ones.

One of the things that I definitely recommend is purchasing Christmas presents early, and spread purchases over a period of time. What I did last year, was go on a spending spree way too close to Christmas, panicking about that fact that I needed to get gifts for everyone. This tends to lead to over spending, having a huge credit card bill come new years and the quality of your gifts may not be as you intended.

Some ways to save money
  • Make purchases online. Use eBay, check for coupon codes, online sales. There are usually fewer sales closer to Christmas because retailers know that you will be buying no matter what in December, no matter the price. Take advantage of sales now instead of December. Also when making purchases be conscious of free shipping deals, especially in Ontario we already get killed with taxes, its best to try and get free shipping if possible.
  • Check out some DIY projects on Pinterest if your the crafty type and make a unique present instead. It will definitely be a lot cheaper than purchasing the product yourself.

Keep an eye out for my Twitter feed @cheapstudents I will be posting various deals that I find. Closer to Christmas I will also have another part to this post, so make sure to check it out as well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween on a Budget

Halloween tends to be a time where students go out, and drink, and drink...And something that makes it a bit different than any other night out is the additional challenge of coming up with a clever costume. In addition, Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year. This leaves us with a bit of a problem, the additional issue of coming up with not just 1 but 2 costumes this year all within a student budget.

In most cases you have your go to costume, the one that you are dead set on wearing and it's your showstopper. But you are slightly troubled by the fact that you may need a second costume for the night Halloween actually falls on as well as trying to pull together the pieces on your main costume as well.

Here are some great ways to save cash while trying to make your costume(s).
  • Purchase accessories off of eBay (check shipping since were pretty close to Halloween now)
  • Check out thrift stores
  • Look for ideas in Halloween stores, but don't actually buy anything from there, they tend to be overpriced
  • Check out Dollarama for some cheap accessories
  • Make your costume or part of it. Go to a craft store and get supplies (or get cheap supplies from Dollarama as well
  • For additional ideas check out Pinterest, there are usually some great things floating around on there.
For those who struggle to come up with costume ideas..

Check out some awesome and easy last minute costumes. You can often find a lot of what you need for these costumes at one of the places above or even within your own clothes.

Image Source

What cheap and easy Halloween costumes have you used in the past?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How Facebook can save you money

Facebook is a place where we waste countless hours checking notifications, searching through people's photos or whatever else you may do. But there's also a way to save yourself some money here and there by just liking a few pages on Facebook. These posts will show up in your newsfeed and are easy ways to gather coupons, learn about upcoming deals and even get yourself some free stuff as well.

Here's a list of a few great pages to like.

Canadian Coupons
They often post great offers, free samples and coupons. Some of these are time sensitive
Coupons exclusively, find out about new mail out coupons.

Burnbrae Farms
Often has time sensitive and limit number coupons. Sometimes even free offers for their products.

You can also like the fan pages for your favourite stores and companies. They often post deals, discounts and exclusive coupons for those that like their pages.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I rarely purchase coffee or other beverages from Starbucks but recently have bought a few pumpkin spice lattes because they are truly awesome. Except the only thing is that a medium..oops sorry grande costs me over $5.00 and it made me think first about all the other things I could be buying myself and also I wanted to figure out how I could get my pumpkin spice latte cheaper. So check out the recipes below for some seasonal and all-time favourites of mine from Starbucks and see if you like them and if you save yourself a bunch of money in process. What's not to love?

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Since it is fall and everyone loves their pumpkin spice lattes. Why not save yourself at least $5 and try out this recipe from Recipe Girl.

Chai Tea Latte
Also one of my personal favourites, the Chai Tea Latte. Check out this recipe on how to make your own.

Gingerbread Latte
Check out this slightly altered version that doesn't use the same gingerbread syrup that has a ton of sugar and other bad for you ingredients.

Also check out this Starbucks recipe guide from Freebies 4 Her with a variety of recipes that you can make at home, and save a bunch of money doing it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Save Money at the Library

The library is a place where you study, and spend quite a lot of your university life. But it's also a place where you can save quite a bit of money through a variety of services that are available. Check out the following list of the ways that your library saves you money and from hauling around an extremely heavy backpack.

  • Borrowing textbooks on reserve.
    • Check with your library but most often your professor will put at least 1 textbook on course reserves. You can not buy the textbook at all, or just save yourself the back strain by borrowing the book from the library instead of hauling it to school with you.
  • Borrowing a laptop
    • Most university students have their own laptops. This is mostly just a way to save yourself from a super heavy backpack. The University of Guelph has rental laptops for 2 hours at a time.
  • Borrowing books to read instead of buying them from chapters
    • If you want to do some casual reading on certain topics that are academic in nature you can often find a wide variety of books at your university library. Save yourself from buying them from Chapters or off Amazon and instead just borrow the books.
  • Borrowing documentaries and more "academic" movies
    • If you are an avid documentary fan, a lot of schools will have a bunch of "academic" type movies. Search through your university library online database to see what is available, they may even be helpful for your classes.
  • Watch/download movies and tv at the library
    • By downloading movies, tv and music at the library you can cut down on using your bandwidth at home. Some schools may block the use of torrents on some computers.
Ways to save money when studying at the library
  • Bring your own food
    • By bringing your own meals to the library you are often able to save quite a bit if you spend a lot of time in your university library. Even bringing snacks and a refillable water bottle can help save a ton of money in the long run.
  • Make sure to return books, laptops and textbooks on time
    • It's amazing how much a late book can add up in terms of fines, it's important to stay aware of dates and renew checked out books if you are unable to make it to the library by the due date.
  • Bring your own coffee maker
    • Yes, I have seen it before. You could honestly bring your own coffee maker to the library if that's what your heart desires. All you need is a plug
  • For the less intense people out there; Make your own coffee/tea before coming to the library
    • Making your own coffee instead of purchasing coffee/tea from Starbucks, Tim Hortons or Second Cup can help save you a ton of money by the time the end of mid terms and exams.
Source: Image

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Are Student Loans Immoral?

Recently a professor at NYU wrote an article on student loans while covering a wide variety of issues related to these loans. Whether or not loans could be technically classified as immoral is another story but student loans and debt are definitely crushing and a burden for many years. Are they immoral? I don't think so, but the hikes in tuition and the astronomically large debts students face after university/college are a handicap when trying to start off a life after completing school. Also the current generation faces a lot of factors, but the most important thing to do is to keep track of your debts and be responsible with the money you do have  during your time at university.

"I have concluded that it is immoral to expect young people to privately debt-finance a basic social good like education, especially if we are telling them that a college degree is their passport to a livelihood that is increasingly thin on the ground." -Andrew Ross, NYU Professor

Differences between Canada and the United States
Most often I find that a lot of articles are written about the student loan/debt crisis in the United States and this is often reflective of their astronomically expensive tuition fees. In Canada we are slightly blessed because of our government run institutions in that there aren't any for-profit universities with the main goal of getting your money versus educating you. Certain provincial governments to provide relief in terms of student loans and many students do benefit from them, which helps to pay for quite a bit of tuition and room and board. Just to compare tuition fees in the US versus the University of Guelph this may provide a bit of perspective on the differences between the United States and Canada right now. Some state run universities have lower tuition than NYU, this was just the school that the professor who wrote the original article taught at.

University of Guelph
Tuition for 1 Semester (Arts & Full-Time Canadian)
4-Year program (without inflation and not including any other fees)

NYU, In-State-Fall 2012
4-Year program (without inflation and not including any other fees)

Just by calculating that, I can fully understand why students in the United States are struggling especially in situations where they come from families that aren't completely loaded. The debt can add up, but it is the same case with university students in Canada and student loans are still something that Canadian students struggle with as well.

Check out Debt-ridden and unemployed: We are the class of 2012 for a more Canadian perspective

  • Nearly 60 per cent of the class of 2012 will graduate with student debt, 26,480 in Ontario on average
  • More than 10% of people enrolling in Canadian college's will have previously completed a bachelor's degree
  • Half of Canadian's in their 20's live at home, 73% between the ages of 20-24

Rising Tuition Costs in Canada
In terms of tuition fees across the country and for Canada as a whole you can view these statistics here for the 2011/2012 school year (last year)

There are a few trends occurring, and as a University of Guelph student I quickly noticed the huge increase once again in Ontario's tuition rates (approximately 5%) which is higher than Canada's overall change for the year, lucky us. Throughout the last 4 years that I have attended university I have seen a fairly significant increase in my tuition fees and most often I get to find out my new tuition fee when I check in August, it isn't significant but it is increasing.

Starting Tuition (Fall 2009)
Current Tuition (Fall 2012)

% Change= 9.23% and I still haven't even finished my degree

On a year by year basis it doesn't seem significant but I'm losing about $800 this year, funny how the OSAP 30% credit is that amount...At least the provincial government has stepped in and provided some relief for students.

Unfortunately for most career fields that students want to head into, the expectation is that you at least have a bachelors degree which could leave you at least $30,000 in the hole before you head out. OSAP helps students in Ontario but we are still forced to pay it back and pay a pretty hefty interest rate after graduation.

My tips for those who have been required to take out OSAP loans and other loans on top of that;
-Keep track of all that you owe the banks, the government, parents etc. you are going to have to pay them all back at some point but certain loans will have much higher interest than others, and those are what you should most likely focus on first and keep track of.
-Search in all ways possible to get some sort of scholarship, bursary etc. If you apply to OSAP you are likely to qualify for OSAP related bursaries.
-Don't be ashamed of your debts, its highly likely that everyone else you know is in a similar situation, talking about it with others may help you strategize better in paying them off
-And on top of that, be thankful you don't go to NYU :)


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Starting the School Year Off Right

It's easy for spending to get really out of control within the first weeks of school. You need to buy a gym membership, stock up your house with groceries, want a new desk and several other purchases to get you off and running. Make sure to think about these points and keep thinking about them throughout the semester.
Make a Budget
  • The most important thing that you can do right now is plan and make a budget for your month by month spending. It's also very important for this budget to be realistic, so you can stick to it. If you are an avid spender don't set completely unrealistic spending goals for yourself.
  • Based on the money you made during the summer or the money you still have left make sure you have enough for the essentials; food, rent, and utilities. After you have figured out that you have enough funds to cover these expenses that's when you can figure out the rest; clothing, alcohol, money for going out, trips, additional food that you don't actually need etc.
Some Tips
Make sure to take into account increased utility bills in the winter months when the weather is colder and heating will increase.
Stick & Follow Through with the Budget
  • Making the budget itself may seem challenging, but the most difficult part is actually following through with the budget. Throughout the first month especially, it is crucial that you write down and record your spending in order to be able to tally it all up at the end of the month.
  • At the very least make sure to do a bi-weekly (half way through the month) check of your budget and see if you are on track. Are you spending too much on groceries? Scope out better sales and make better use of your grocery dollars and even try finding some coupons online.
  • At month's end, tally up all of your purchases and check to see if you met your goals. Were they realistic? Do some numbers need to be decreased? Do some numbers need to increased? Don't do this every month, but the first month is your trial run make changes after this month that make the most sense financially and based on your spending habits, then the budget for later months should be more concrete.
Keep Up to Date on Your OSAP Loans & Other Student Loans
  • Since you probably just received more loans or additional student loans to pay for tuition this semester, make sure to check the amounts owing to either OSAP, banks, your parents etc. Keeping that in mind may also keep spending in perspective, if you owe $15,000 in OSAP does that extra pair of heels make sense if you don't really need them?
  • Additionally make sure to check if you qualify for the tuition rebate of $800 a semester through OSAP. I remember seeing somewhere that over 80% of students that could qualify for the rebate didn't even apply. You don't have to pay this money back unlike OSAP, it's a bursary that requires no repayment, it's free money that can help take a load off tuition or rent. Make sure to take advantage of this.
  • If you are no longer receiving OSAP loans, make sure you go an fill out a form to keep interest free status (and avoid paying interest until after you graduate). This can probably be done at Student Financial services at your university.
Hopefully this gets you thinking about your finances and how you can better keep track of them over the Fall semester and beyond. Remember, you're a student, it's very unlikely you have a ton of money so please don't spend like you do.
Source: Image

Monday, September 3, 2012

How to Save Money Using eBay

eBay to some people seems like a scary place of fraud, possible fake products and a place requiring a credit card. I'm not going to say there isn't any fraud because there is, there are fake products and yes you do need a credit card, but there are ways to make sure you can avoid this problems. It all depends on what you are buying, how much you know about the product and understanding how eBay works. These are tips that you can transfer over to purchases made through kijiji, craigslist and other classified websites as well.

eBay is where I find certain products I need (and sometimes just want) for a lot cheaper than in the stores. If it isn't a deal on eBay you might as well just buy it in a store and save yourself the hassle of shipping and waiting for the product to arrive.

What is eBay?
At it's core eBay can be defined as;
  1. eBay sellers pay a small flat fee plus a 1.5% percentage fee to eBay in order to market their wares;
  2. eBay buyers visit and use the marketplace without any surcharges;
  3. Any parties that abuse the system or each other will be disciplined or ejected

eBay is like a flea market but a bit different;
  1. The eBay marketplace is international, and crosses language and national boundaries;

  2. The massive choice of goods is awe-inspiring;

  3. Sales can either be auction format (competitions between bidders), or traditional fixed price format. The sellers choose whichever format they prefer;

  4. The buyers and sellers will likely never meet in person;

  5. The buyers do not get to see the product in person before purchase, but are given various post-purchase guarantees to ensure satisfaction;

  6. Very sophisticated computer measures are implemented to minimize electronic dishonesty on all sides;

  7. Fulltime staff are employed to enforce safety and fairness across the system;

  8. An honesty incentive model called 'positive feedback' is used to motivate buyers and sellers to trade with integrity;

  9. Professional third parties payment services, like Paypal, Bidpay, and, are brought in to ensure safe and trusted payment between eBayers;

  10. eBay is easier to use than a flea market.
In order to purchase goods on eBay you need to register, supply a credit card number, and I suggest creating an account on PayPal to make purchases online. You can register a credit card and/or a debit card.

Check out this excellent guide on how to use eBay.

Here are some of my tips on how to be safe, make smart purchases and get the best deals you can.
  • Always check the sellers feedback score. I usually go with 100% or nothing. Even if a sellers feedback score says 99%, they are often high volume sellers and that can mean that they still have a lot of negative reviews. Read through their comment's section and check for patterns, are people constantly complaining about shipping? or items not as described? If those show up, it's a red flag. Don't buy from that seller.
  • Check the location that the product is coming from (this may help determine shipping times/costs and/or product quality). Even if the currency is listed as US dollars or Australian dollars it may not be coming from that country. I have come across a lot of listings that say Australian dollars when in fact that product is coming from Hong Kong. 
  • ALWAYS check how much the product will cost to ship, if it doesnt say in the listing make sure to message the seller to get a quote. Don't ever bid if you don't know the shipping cost, it could more than double what you spend depending on the product you're buying.
  • Go with Canadian sellers whenever you can, shipping is usually cheaper and quicker. Also if there is an option to pick up an item do it, sometimes they charge you, but you can pick up your item on your own terms and not have to rely on good old Canada Post.
Best Products to Buy on eBay
  • Razor Blades- Don't enjoy paying $20 for 4 blades at Shoppers Drug Mart? You can usually get double that for the same price or more on eBay. Check, but most often if you are purchasing from a Canadian seller shipping is free as well. 
  • Clothing-Certain brands of clothing are everywhere on eBay and often cheaper. You can find anything from Lulu Lemon to Abercrombie and more. 
  • Shoes- Be careful with shoes, some can be fakes. Determine the price you want to spend, try on the shoes in store some where and figure out if it makes sense to purchase them online. 
Tips to Buying Clothes and Shoes
  • Try on products you are interested in, in store and determine your correct sizing. You dont want to have to return things to sellers on eBay unless you really have to.
  • Buying multiple products from the same seller can save you a ton on shipping
  • If you aren't against buying used clothing/shoes, you can find great deals on used designer clothing and shoes on eBay.
Also you may be able to get a deal by using one of these websites. Type in the product you are searching for and both sites will generate typo's for these products. These products wont come up in a normal eBay search because of their incorrect spelling, which can help you snag a great deal
eBay is a great place to find deals, if you do your research and are careful when making purchases. Make sure to check out sellers feedback scores, the location the product is coming from and the shipping costs. Also be aware of the sellers return policies.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kitchen Food Essentials: Pantry & Fridge

When moving into a new house, or moving back into your old one, you may be quick to realize that you have very little in terms of food and don't know where to begin. Just like kitchen utensils, you do need a quite a few ingredients here and there in order to get a meal together. There are a few shelf-stable/non-perishable things that you should always have around, the fresh stuff is mostly up to you.

The Essentials;
-Spray Oil/Cooking Oil
-Tomato Sauce (Canned/in Jars)
-Canned/Frozen Veggies & Fruits
-Kraft Dinner/Mr Noodles
-Chicken/Beef/Beans or your choice of protein
-Some sort of fruit (if you do that) - or assorted fruit juices :S
-Canned Tuna/Chicken/Ham

The Essential Spices (if you actually use spices)
-Red Pepper Flakes
-Garlic Powder or real garlic. You can also buy pre-chopped garlic in a jar.
-Seasoning Salt (awesome on fries)
-Steak spice (for chicken and of course steak)
Check out a more comprehensive list here (if you really are dedicated chef)

Now I have just given you the basics. Most of the food choices you make are going to be more specific to allergies, tastes and cooking abilities. A few good frozen foods are always a good call in case you haven't made it to the grocery store.

What's the number 1 food item you can't live without?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Printers: The Place Where Money Goes to Die

I am assuming most students are aware of how much of a money pit printers can be. They eat up your money when you first buy them, when you print and when you have to refill the ink, oh and you have to buy paper too.

A $50 printer that came at a discount when you bought your laptop can cost you more than 3 times that by the end of your undergrad, simply because the cartridges are ridiculously expensive (usually around $20 a shot-and that's if you're only buying a black and white cartridge).

So I have decided to investigate, and figure out how to save money on that big printing machine taking up a large spot on my desk by breaking down how much I have spent/will spend on the current printer I have.

Cost of a printer. $50 at Futureshop
Brand: HP
Cost of replacement cartridges: $22-$45 (Regular to XL-3x the printing)
Since a lot of my courses require printed notes I go through about 2 cartridges a semester, which ends up working out to me buying a new printer every semester.
I have owned this printer since 2009 (when I started university) and haven't purchased a colour cartridge once (since they cost more-and who needs super pretty slides in colour?). The one I do have is on the lowest level of ink now, just so I can keep printing all together. Because some of those clever manufacturers have settings on some printers that prevent you front printing in black and white if you don't have any colour ink left.
Based on 8 semesters of use, the printer will end up costing me approximately;
$50 initial cost (comes with 1 black and white and 1 colour cartridge)
$22*7=$154 ( I am just going to assume that the cartridges that came with the printer lasted 2 months)
Overall a printer that technically cost me $50 (which I thought was this great deal) ends up costing me at least $200. And that's not including paper and the fact that I have cheaped out and not bought and colour ink. 

Now the thought of overpaying in the long run for my printer has got me thinking of alternatives to make it cheaper.

Alternative 1:
Refilling ink cartridges instead of buying new ones.
I have yet to try this, but I have been told it costs about half the price of buying a new cartridge. I have yet to test how long refilled inks last, but I am hoping its not half as long.

Alternative 2:
Buying a laser printer instead of an inkjet one.
Unfortunately this is a better option for people starting at the beginning of their university careers. Laser printers are often more expensive, and the toners (yes toners, not cartridges) are more pricey. BUT toners get you a ton more pages per toner than an ink jet printer and are often more efficient, hence why businesses don't use inkjet printers.
If you are in the later years of you're university career you could possibly split the purchase of a laser printer between room mates

Alternative 3:
Just print off notes at the library
If you are a light user of printers it may make more economical sense to just print at the library. You pay per page, but it may not warrant the need for the purchase of an entire printer and/or a new cartridge that may dry out from lack of use.

If you are considering buying a printer, make that purchase now. Back to School deals are currently on and you can save up to a $100 on some printers. Before you make the impulse buy to get a printer with a laptop (because it's a discount) look up a few things online first;

  • Google the printer model-Check out reviews and see what people are saying. Is the printer efficient on ink? 
  • Certain brands of printers don't have generic cartridge offerings that can cost you a lot less when buying new. Stores like Staples have a generic Staples brand cartridges. Check out this website here to learn how it works. 
  • What functions do you need in a printer? Copy/Scan or just standard printing? If you can get a regular printer for the same price as a printer/copy/scan get the later. The ability to scan and copy certain documents can be a lifesaver.
  • Check what comes with the printer, some don't come with the USB cable to attach to you're computer, and that's another additional cost right there.
Also a few tips from CNet
  • "A multifunction inkjet is a viable option for power users who will make use of the additional copy, fax, and scan options--plus it gives you the flexibility to print in colour when necessary--photo postcards for the family, perhaps? If you decide to head down this path, spend a little extra--more than $100--for a decent model that will be a little faster and won't chew through expensive ink and paper as quickly."
  • CNet also suggests students to consider buying laser printers because of their ability to print a lot more pages on a single toner than multiple inkjet cartridges 
  • Consult the rest of the Printer buying guide here
Source: Image

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Moving into Your Rental Home: Stocking the Place

One of the most exciting points of the school year is the first few days back, seeing all of your roommates, meeting new ones and getting back into university life. To make the first few days a bit more enjoyable, less stressful and to make the transition smoother its best to move in and organize your place a bit beforehand. My move into my university student house consisted of various weekends of me dropping old furniture off and other household purchase off as well as painting my room and setting up my bed.

If this entire task seems completely overwhelming and you don't know where to start, where to find furniture to fill your house etc. This post will hopefully lead you on your way.

Where to Get Cheap Furniture
Where you get furniture depends on what you consider gross and unsanitary I guess. For those who would snag a couch sitting at the end of someone's driveway that's all you, and you can probably get it cleaned if you wanted to, and save yourself a ton of money. There are other options and many of them where you can find desks, chairs, kitchen tables, bed frames, dressers etc.

  • Check out garage sales for furniture of all kinds
  • If you have a Habitat ReStore near you, check it out- you're supporting a charity and getting discount furniture
  • Check out Value Village or Goodwill. I have heard of many people snagging tables and other furniture for ridiculously low prices
  • Search through Kijiji and Craigslist people are always selling
  • For inexpensive new furniture check out Ikea or JYSK (A JYSK is opening up in Guelph this August)
  • See if anyone in your family is getting rid of old furniture, you know where it came from and they will often give it to you for FREE. Plus it's often a good excuse for them to get new furniture. Total win for everyone
  • Also talk to the students that previously lived in your home, they are often willing to leave furniture or sell it to you for cheap if they are graduating (they really don't want student furniture any more or don't want to haul it back home)

Decorating Your Room
Some landlords unfortunately don't want you to paint, and often it is a good thing (save yourself a lot of hassle) unless your walls are absolutely disgusting. If you're allowed and want to take on the painting challenge there are some cheap ways of getting it done.

  • Check out Dulux paint stores. They often have a buy 1 get 1 50% off deal. So you can get your paint and primer there. (For most rooms you only need a can any ways).
  • Buy brushes, rollers and other supplies at the dollar store. Dollarama is a great place to check.
  • For doing edges snag yourself some painters tape (usually green or blue) if not just freehand away I guess.

In terms of decorating your room there are a few good ways to do it. Check out Walmart for various picture frames, wall art and mirrors etc. They are usually inexpensive, and you can even get digital pictures developed for really cheap there as well. Also consider posters for your walls, the University of Guelph does have a poster sale at the beginning of the year. If not you can also check out

Stocking up the Kitchen
One of the things I realized once I moved away from home was the amount of things that a kitchen has in it and how many gadgets, pots/pans, trays, bowls, plates you need in order to make a meal, the list goes on and on. You begin to quickly realize that if you have any chance of making even Kraft Dinner you need a pot, some sort of stirring object, butter, milk, possibly a colander (that thing that drains the water) and if you're really fancy a bowl to eat it out of. You can see how this all adds up. So I have devised a plan to give you a decent list of all the things you need to stock up you're kitchen. Hope it helps.

Cheap Student's Kitchen List

So where can you get most of this stuff?

  • Check out Canadian Tire for cheap deals on pots, pans, silverware and cooking accessories. Starting August they often have their back to school sales for most school related products.
  • Ikea also has some cheap kitchen accessories. Just don't get sucked in and buy a bunch of unnecessary stuff. It happens I know.
  • Get old pots and pans and baking gear from your parents or relatives. If you want you can try out kijiji and craigslist but it could be a little gross :S up to you.

Other things you may have forgotten
  • Light bulbs! Batteries!-These are the 2 most annoying things ever when they die or burn out. Especially when those batteries are powering your smoke detectors. Have extra's on hand so you can actually sleep through the night when they start dying at 2am.
  • Buy a lot of toilet paper if it's on sale-stock up
  • Garbage, recycling and green bin bags
  • Cleaning supplies; Windex, Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Toilet Bowl brush, All-Purpose cleaner, rags for cleaning, paper towel. And the greatest invention ever..the Magic Eraser
  • Garbage cans for inside your room, for the kitchen and for outside (some of these may have been provided by your landlord)
  • Soaps- Face, hand, body, dish, dishwasher. So many soaps.
  • Snag an extra pair of sheets, you will thank me.
  • Fans and portable heaters. Unless you are rolling in the dough you won't have your AC (if you have it) or heat pumping at all times during the year. These 2 can be a lifesaver.
  • Shot glasses!-Geez people I shouldn't need to remind you.
  • Deck of cards-you never know when you might need them
  • Red Cups and ping pong balls-Just necessary
  • Scotch Tape, Elastics and twist ties. If not I'm sure you will find a creative way to seal/close things..
For the rest you're on your own.

What are some major household products you've forgotten?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Keeping up with the Olympics: London 2012 Cheap

The London Olympics begin tomorrow and this means that for the next month everyone will be once again completely obsessed with sports that they only watch every 4 years. Now unfortunately we all don't have the ability to sit and watch TV for 24 hours and catch every single sporting event. So hopefully to help everyone out I have put together a bit of a one-stop shop so to speak of all the Canadian channels, apps and live streaming websites that can help you make it through and keep up to date.

Check out for Canadian related information

Apps to download
iLondon 2012 App $1.99 iTunes

Free Apps
TSN (Just the general app, will have section for olympics)
NBC Olympics Free iTunes
Score Mobile(Just the general app, will have section for olympics)

Watching Live Online

Watching Replays (legally)

Websites to live stream from
Google: Live Sports Streaming

TV Channels showing the Olympics
TSN-Redirects to CTV
The Score

View Schedules Here

Twitter: People to Follow
  • An easy way to keep track of what's going on. Check out what's trending
  • This Olympics are said to be the Olympics of social media. It's going to be a great way to stay connected
London 2012
Official Olympics and Paralympics channel - Sport, culture, behind the scenes information and opinion on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Official Twitter account of Join the conversation leading up to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Connect on Facebook Google+ YouTube #CTVOlympics
The Olympic Games
CDN Olympic Team
News on the Canadian Olympic Team toward London 2012 and beyond.

London 2012 Image Canadian Olympic Team Logo Image

Monday, July 23, 2012

Financial Tips for Students

This blog post is short and sweet, but consists of a list of financial tips that I choose to follow and hope you will think about. As usual this isn't an exhaustive list, and it's not something that you need to swear by. But it's a list that is meant to make you think. Am I making the right choices with my money? Am I prepared for all the expenses of the school year?

If there's anything you feel is missing or off the mark feel free to leave a comment on this post. If it's an awesome tip I will definitely add it to the list.

1. Be conscious of the debt you have. Keep track of your student loans, lines of credit and credit card bills.
2. Always save, keep money stockpiled in case of emergency.
3. Coffee and food purchases at the cafeteria at school pile up.
4. Keep track of what you're spending-the more conscious you are of your spending habits, the more likely you are to fix them and try and spend less.
5. Make expenses aside from tuition as low as possible. That includes rent, cable/internet, food, "entertainment"
6. Spend cash when you can. Take out what you need and don't bring your debit card along. Debit cards make spending much easier, only when you check your statements do you actually realize how much you spent. It tends to pile up pretty quickly. aka try to avoid starting a bar tab when you go out.

7. Find ways to get rewards for purchases. Ie. Air Miles Mastercards, PC point Debit Cards (for groceries) etc. These can add up to extra benefits and save you some cash. Why not get benefits from the purchases you already make?
8. Always pay off your credit card balance in full! Not just the minimum payment. You probably already have student debt, try not to add any further debt on top of that.
9. Come up with a student loan repayment plan. How much do you already owe? What do you estimate you will owe by the end of school?
10. Set your educational and career goals. Do you want to travel? Can you afford going to grad school right away?
11.Never buy if you don't have to. Borrow from friends. Sharing is caring. This is always good when it comes to textbooks an unfortunately very large investment unless you put the effort in.

Additional Reader Tips
  • Try to get as much free entertainment as possible. Have a BYOB board game night or poker tourney using snacks as betting chips. Look into free concerts at the school; often in the faculty of music but also young artists starting out nearby. Try karaoke, or a trivia night at a local pub (with a strict drinks/food budget). Look for film screenings in the area or at the library.
  • Many schools have course books on short-term loan at the library. If you are diligent enough to not leave a semester of reading to the last week you can avoid buying the book all together. Especially for books that are only needed for homework questions (ie math, physics etc). I photocopied the pages I needed. Also think about sharing a book with a roommate or trusted friend.
Tips via Twitter
@NewGradeLife Start Saving as soon as you can and let the nest egg grow!  
@lyss090 Load up a store gift card card and set a time frame to reloading it. Eg,  - $10/month on the 1st of every month. 
  • @CheapStudents additional notes for @lyssa090's tip-Make sure to only put that amount on, use it as a way to limit your purchases to that certain amount per month at that establishment and not use any other form of payment to make purchases at that store.

What are rules that you live by when it comes to your finances?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer BBQ's: Student Style

With warm weather, and summer comes lots of BBQ's and backyard parties. This summer I have attended a lot more BBQ's then I previously had in summer's before, simply since I am living away from home. Now me being both frugal AND a lover a food here are a few tips to make the next BBQ you attend awesome, cheap and the food you make tasty.

If you're hosting;
  • Get friends to bring their own;
    • Food
    • Alcohol/drinks
  • Get everyone to split on bringing certain food items or necessary things for the BBQ
    • Smore's supplies
    • Charcoal, Fluid etc.
    • Food that everyone is sharing ie. Chips and Dip, Lettuce etc.
    • Ice
  • Don't use paper plates, despite what you think, throwing out plates every single BBQ will add up. Another bonus of being a student is the fact that your dishes aren't the greatest, just use the same one's you use when eating inside!
If you're a guest;
  • Bring your own food, you get what you want and don't feel guilty eating your friends food.
    • When grocery shopping during the week make a few food choices based on what's good on the BBQ 
      • Chicken/Beef/Pork Skewers
      • Steak/Burgers/Hot Dogs
      • Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes
      • Red Peppers/Various Veggies
    • Honestly everything tastes good on the BBQ
  • Bring your own alcohol, you can even be the one to bring a certain part of a blendable drink and get one of your friends to bring another ingredient. Plus if you don't have a blender, one of your friends may have one! Sharing is awesome isn't it?
  • Load up on BBQ foods when they are on sale; buns, hot dogs, burgers and keep them in the freezer.
Some awesome BBQ recipes
  • Most of these recipes were made by me fiddling around and throwing ingredients together. Therefor there aren't exact measurements and cooking time instructions (BBQs do vary in temperature though so that kind of saves me there)
Spicy Franks Red Hot Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Chicken Breast (Boneless or with Bone, I remove skin usually to reduce fat)
  • Franks Red Hot Sauce (the amount you put on depends on how spicy you like things)
  • Seasoning Salt/Cajun Spices etc. 
  • Sour Cream
Instructions; put chicken breast, franks red hot sauce, and various spices into a plastic bag. Shake around so chicken breast is completely covered. Grill on the BBQ until completely cooked. Once cooked, serve with a side of sour cream for dipping, it will cut the spice a bit too.

Goat Cheese Filled Chicken Breast
  • 1 Boneless Chicken Breast
  • 1/5 of a goat cheese packet
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Chopped Cherry Tomatoes/Finely chopped Spinach
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Toothpicks
Instructions: Lie Chicken breast on the largest flat portion. Take a knife and slice horizontally into the chicken breast from one of the sides (just like you would for a sandwich bun). Don't cut all the way through. You have just cut the pocket where the goat cheese will be placed. Take goat cheese and place into a small bowl. Dice up cherry tomatoes, spinach or whatever you want to mix in with the goat cheese. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and use a fork to mix the ingredients together. Take this mixture and place in the chicken breast pocket you previously cut, place this more in toward the back of the chicken breast, away from the edges. Once stuffed, take toothpicks and seal up the edges as best you can. Sprinkle seasoning salt on the outsides of the chicken breast for additional flavour. Place on the BBQ and flip halfway through to get both sides cooked. After its finished being cooked remove toothpicks and enjoy.

Awesome Tin Foil Packet Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • Cinnamon
  • Cooking Oil (Canola/Olive)
  • Tin Foil
Instructions: Chop sweet potatoes into bite size chunks (they do shrink slightly when cooked). Tear off a large enough piece of tin foil to wrap and seal around the sweet potato pieces. Lay sweet potato chunks in the middle of the tin foil (shiny side out), sprinkle cinnamon on sweet potato and drizzle with oil. Seal up and form the tin foil into a packet surrounding the sweet poatotes. Throw on the grill and check every so often to make sure nothing burns (make sure to seal the packet back up once you finish checking). Sweet potatoes will be ready when the pieces are soft. If cooking with meat, put this on the BBQ first, it takes longer to cook than meat.

Tin Foil Veggies
  • 3 Different veggies; Example: Tomatoes, Snow peas, Peppers
  • Oil
  • Salt/Pepper or Soy Sauce
  • Garlic clove
  • Tin Foil
Instructions; Cut vegetables into bit sized pieces. tear a large enough piece of tin foil to completely surround vegetables in a packet. Place vegetables in the middle of the tin foil sheet (shiny side out), drizzle with oil and soy sauce/salt/pepper whichever you prefer (you can also add red pepper flakes or anything else). Chop up the garlic glove into about 8 pieces and place within the veggies in the packet. Seal up tin foil packet and then place on BBQ. This will take a bit less time then the chicken, and a lot less time than potatoes.

Tin Foil Spiced Potatoes
  • 1 Potato
  • Salt/Pepper/Seasoning Salt/Cajun Seasoning etc. (this is where you add the spiciness if you want it)
  • Oil
  • Tin Foil
Instructions: Cut potato in half length-wise. Cut into multiple slivers lengthwise as well. Place on a sheet of tinfoil (shiny side out) and drizzle oil, and sprinkle with seasoning salt and other spices. Fold up tinfoil into a packet and place on grill. Cook until potato wedges are soft. If cooking with meat, put this on the BBQ first, it takes longer to cook than meat.

BBQ Roasted Pepper's
  • Whole Red/Green/Orange/Yellow Pepper
Instructions: You don't even need to cut the pepper. Simply wash/rinse and then place on the grill. Leave on until the skin is burnt and then remove. Let cool and then peel skin off and remove seeds/stem etc. The pepper should be completely cooked and not crunchy at all. For those that don't want to peel the pepper. Cut into rings/remove stem and seeds and place on the BBQ that way.

If you attempted any of these. Look at you go..your a BBQ pro.

And then if you don't want to do any prep. Check out M&M Meat shops. They have some awesome stuff and you can literally just throw it on the BBQ.

Image Source BBQ Photo

Anyone have any other tasty and easy BBQ recipes?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to Make the Most of Your Summer

This blog post is a bit of an overlap of various topics I have covered in the past. But since it's almost the middle of July already, I know I am already starting to worry, did I make the most of my summer? Some students often take a course during the summer, and while others take multiple courses while working as well. Kudos to all of you!

No one's here to judge anyways, you personally are the only individual that can determine whether or not you made the most of your summer from a personal development stand point. But here are a few things to consider, and a few ways that you can still do before you head back to school.

1. Have you achieved the goals you set out at the beginning of the summer? Did you learn a few new skills at work? Did you get a volunteer position that you really wanted?

  • If you still haven't achieved the goals you set out, this is the midway point (well a little bit past but who's counting). Sit down with your manager/supervisor at work and see what you can do to achieve your goals. If you were unable to land that volunteer position that you really wanted, e-mail them back and follow up, see if there are any opportunities during the school year that you can do on a part-time basis.
  • Be persistent, and take initiative, that's the only way you can achieve your goals.
2. Have you updated your resume?
  • While your still working you have a much clearer idea on the tasks that you completed and skills you learned while working or volunteering or the ones you learned from non-university/college courses. Make sure to start adding/editing your resume now when all of this is still fresh in your mind.
3. Make sure to gather samples of your work.
  • Have you worked on some really interesting projects this summer? Make sure to get copies of these and keep them, put them in a portfolio, scan them etc. These will come in handy the next time you apply for a job (which may be next summer).
4. Have you travelled enough?
  • This summer has been super packed for me personally, I feel like I have gone on a tour of Ontario. Aside from all the serious stuff I normally talk about, make sure you make some awesome memories this summer so at least you have something great to remember while your soul is being destroyed at school....

5. Still want to learn something awesome? A language? How to use Photoshop?
  • One of the goals I set out at the beginning of summer was to further develop some of soft skills which may be hard to learn on the job etc. There are a bunch of courses available online often for free that can help you out this category. You can view a few of many websites out there that can help you learn new things in the Cheap Students Learning section. One of my goals is to get a lot better at using the Adobe suite of programs, I'm still working away..
  • Another excellent thing to do is to just READ. I know it sounds super lame, but start getting your mind  working again, school will be a lot less of a shock to the system. 
6. Have you saved up enough money?
  • Unfortunately this is the least fun thing to ask yourself, but it's true. Have you planned out how much you will need for the next school year? Will you have enough to make it through? Some things to consider.
    • Rent
    • Food
    • Tuition
    • "Entertainment"-partying, alcohol, movies, dinners etc.
    • What money will you get from loans, OSAP, scholarships etc.?
  • If you already find yourself in the red based on the income you have earned this summer, make sure to save every penny you can from now until school starts. Maybe trying and take on another part-time now that can transition into the fall semester in order to keep you afloat or check out scholarship websites, start applying and see what you can do to get some extra funding. By thinking about this now it will be a lot less stressful when you suddenly can't afford food for a week during the school year, close to exams. School is already hard enough.
Images Lake Jump
Does anyone else have any tips to make the most of summer?