Here you will find the basic information needed to get started with setting up your finances and learning more about your overall financial wellness while attending Algoma University.
What is Financial Wellness?
Financial wellness is achieved by actively planning for and properly managing your expenses while also pursuing financial goals for your future. Your financial health can be impacted from a variety of circumstances such as loss of job, unexpected costs, or failure to plan ahead of time. Stress from financial concerns can affect your academics and can interfere with your goals. As a postsecondary student, active pursuit of financial wellness will be important in your journey toward success in your studies and beyond. Explore the following topics to get started.
Financial planning for university can be very stressful. This financial stress escalates when you ignore your finances or leave it all to the last minute. Also, sometimes unexpected things come up that have a big impact on your financial wellbeing. This stress can have an impact on your academic success so it is important to plan for your education ahead of time. You can use this budget worksheet to help or use the online resource budget calculator from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. Outline in your budget all of your resources and expenses (one-time and recurring). Review your past three months of bank statements for all of your accounts to estimate future spending and also account for upcoming expenses such as books and supplies.
Financial difficulties can arise after a very short time of not managing your money, and can compound after several months or even years. Some students will spend beyond their resources and not live within their means. The Government of Canada’s website provides a short video on spending within your budget. No matter where you are in your journey toward financial wellness, even if it seems impossible, you can improve your situation. Review your budget to see one-time or recurring expenses and pay for these on time. There are high fees and interest associated with late payments and it can also affect your credit score.
It is important to understand the different types of debt and what to use debt for. A proper budget should not use debt (e.g. credit card) for daily expenses but may plan to use debt to pay for larger, longer term benefit expenses, such as a tuition payment. Ideally you will not want to continue to pay for something past the point of its use. Many of our students access our generous scholarships and bursaries programs instead of borrowing. For more information on understanding debt, you can view the Government of Canada’s website for a short video.
Your budget will need to be updated regularly as your life, needs, and goals change. Plan to review your expenditures monthly and revise your budget bi-annually. Ensure you are thinking long term with your goals and budget so you can plan and save accordingly.
Life happens and no one goes through it without having unexpected costs. So how do you plan for this? Most people have heard of setting up a “rainy day fund” but what if you just don’t have the money to set aside? If you are in a situation where you cannot set aside at least 10% of your income to save for an unexpected cost then you will need to review your overall income and expenses. By setting up a budget and tracking your expenses you can see where you are spending your money – there are always areas where you can cut your spending.
If you are stressed about your financial situation and need to speak with someone confidentially about it, you can book a Financial Aid Counselling appointment. Common areas discussed during appointments can include: applying for financial aid, reviewing your OSAP entitlement, help with out-of-province aid, developing a budget, understanding debt, and emergency financial assistance. This service is available to all Algoma University students including prospective students that are planning to attend. Click here to book an appointment.
Many students don’t access bursaries, grants, or awards. This is “free” money meaning you don’t need to pay it back. Even if you don’t think you qualify, we encourage all students to apply for any available programs. For example, OSAP provides eligible domestic students with loans and grants for their education. Students have the option to decline the loan after they apply and only accept grants. OSAP and some other programs have specific requirements for residency and citizenship, however other programs are open to international students as well.