Education: How to thoroughly assess your needs in order to avoid getting into debt

03 December 2014 by National Bank

Managing debt begins with a realistic budget that takes all of your expenses into account. Here are a few things you need to know in order to assess your needs and to keep yourself afloat.

The dangers of underestimating expenses

The most important thing when making a budget is to be honest about your actual expenditures. The calculation should include the non-essential, including clothing, entertainment, hair styling, etc.. While studying, many young people tend to have a more active social life, which can often mean more expenses.

In order to avoid underestimating expenses, take the time to make a list and to compare it to examples of typical budgets. Use available online tools.

Budget: A constantly evolving tool

A budget should never be etched in stone: Review your budget once or twice a year in order to adjust to changes in your situation. Are you working, as you expected to do? Are you spending more than you expected to spend? Do you have any new projects on the go? Consult your online bank account and your credit card statements to validate your budget.

If you need help making your budget, seek the guidance of an advisor at your bank branch.

Overwhelming debt is easy to come by

Easy access to credit makes compulsive buying very easy. One of the dangers of being a student is to spend saved or borrowed money on other things. With a few thousand dollars in the bank, or line of credit, temptation lurks when it comes to things like a vacation, for example. But you deserve it, no?

Unfortunately , you should avoid getting into debt, at the expense of your studies, by spending like that.

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How to better manage credit

When it comes to education, students often have access to loans and bursaries, a line of credit and credit cards, which provide short-term financing.

Here’s what you need to know in order to manage all that credit, without accumulating too much debt:

  • Student lines of credit provide access to a predetermined amount per year. Interest shall be paid monthly, while capital can be repaid after graduation;
  • Credit cards are useful, but they must be used with caution. Avoid cash advances. Additionally, don’t pay your tuition with a credit card, as the interest rates are too high. Opt for a line of credit before using your credit card;
  • Even if you have access to multiple sources of money, you should avoid being overwhelmed by debt. The sum of all debts can often seem like an abstraction, until it comes time to repay it!
  • Your anticipated income is taken into consideration when calculating eligibility for loans and grants. The amount to which you are entitled is reviewed twice a year;
  • If you change programs, your borrowing capacity might also change. Similarly, if you choose to study part-time, it will have an impact on your access to funding

Finally, it’s important to check your credit rating on a regular basis to ensure that it remains in good standing.

Are you feeling the pressure?

If your financial situation becomes difficult, don’t wait before consulting with a financial advisor. When you need help, sooner is always better than later, as it makes it easier to implement solutions.

A financial advisor will analyze your budget and use of credit with you in order to assist you in getting back on track. Don’t wait until your money dries up before seeking a consultation!

To learn more

Quebec Government information on financial assistance for students

To build a budget

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