Money Talks eNews Archives

Subscribers of the Money Talks eNews receive financial tips and tricks deposited into their inbox every month. Content from previous editions of the e-newsletter can be found below, organized by distribution month.

2020 eNews

  • April 2020 eNews

    Did you know 48% of Canadians are less than $200 away from insolvency? In times of crisis, it's important to have an emergency financial plan in place. Here are a couple tips on how to manage your budget during an emergency:

    Contact creditors as soon as possible, before missing any payments. By doing this, the companies are made aware of the situation and can even share information about what measures they are putting in place to help.

    Get help from credit organizations. By speaking with an accredited financial counselor, such as the Credit Counselling Society, you can access a counsellor who can help you with your finances and budget, completely free of charge.

    Put together a budget and stick to it. If you find yourself out of work or if you are forced to use employment insurance, your salary will likely be significantly impacted. A budget will help you keep track of your finances in this financially unstable time.

    Create a weekly budget rather than a monthly one. This will give you more control of your spending and allow you to recognize earlier if you have overspent.

    Refrain from purchasing small items that don't hold much value but can quickly add up. These include chocolate bars, music downloads, app downloads, and coffee.

    In addition to these tips, both the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta have initiated measures to support Canadians financially during this time.

    If you are in crisis and are in need of emergency funding, please see our Emergency Funding webpage for more information.

  • March 2020 eNews

    Take the Government of Canada's Financial Literacy Self-Assessment Quiz to see how your financial literacy knowledge and skills compare to other Canadians.

    It can be daunting to start your financial journey, but consider these easy ideas to help you get started:

    Create a financial vision board to help you stay on track.

    Set specific financial goals using numbers and dates to outline what you hope to accomplish.

    Recognize where you are now. Do you have any savings? How much debt do you have? How many credit cards do you have?

    Adopt a spending mantra to use as a guide for how you spend, such as "will this item bring me happiness", or "I will wait 24 hours before making any purchases over [fill in dollar value here]".

    Join us for a Money Talks session to learn more about your finances!

  • February 2020 eNews

    Gifts can add up, but showing someone you care doesn't have to be expensive. If you want to spread a little love this Valentine's Day while keeping your costs down, try these ideas:

    • Instead of purchasing a card, try making your own! You could write a poem or a love note instead of traditional greetings.

    • Chocolate and sweets are a romance staple but they don't need to break the bank. Why not make your own chocolate dipped strawberries.

    • Flowers don't need to be expensive to be impactful; a single rose can be just as meaningful. You could buy a potted plant or make a paper rose for a longer lasting option.

    • When it comes to a night out, the costs can add up quick. Cook a romantic dinner at home or go out for dessert instead.

    • Nothing says romance like financial planning (just us?). Taking the time to discuss and plan your financial health with your partner can be a great opportunity to connect over future goals and plans.

    • Keep in mind that romance isn't all about gifts, flowers, or fancy dinners - it can be as simple as an act of kindness or reminding someone how grateful you are that they are in your life.

  • January 2020 eNews

    It's a new year, so why not start it off right by setting a financial goal for 2020? You can make your goal a reality this year, or at least get closer to accomplishing it, by making sure it is SMART.

    Specific: Define your goal carefully, including the total cost.

    Measurable: Break down your goal into monthly milestones and a monthly cost. This will help keep you on track. Or you could even set weekly goals. The easier it is to track, the better.

    Achievable: Look at your current budget and see where you can cut other costs so you can afford to put money away for this new goal each month.

    Realistic: If your goal isn't realistic, it's very unlikely you will stick with it. Consider all the aspects of your goal that impact the practicality of it, including time of year and unexpected expenses.

    Timely: Give yourself enough time to reach your goal so you aren't stressed, but don't make it too easy. You may not need as much time as you initially think.

    For more information on setting SMART financial goals check out this website.

    The new year is a great time to review any monthly or yearly subscriptions / memberships you have that may be eating away at your money. Go through your subscriptions and see if there are any that aren't important to you or that you no longer use.

    Popular subscriptions and memberships to consider are:

    • Gym memberships

    • Spotify

    • Netflix

    • Magazine subscriptions

    • Apple music

    • Subscription boxes (food, clothes, makeup, etc.)

    While you're at it, take a look at your last couple bank statements and see if you can reduce some of your monthly bills. This could include things such as:

    • Cable

    • Internet

    • Cell phone

    Check to see if there are student discount rates available for the things you do want to keep! These monthly costs may seem small but they can really add up over time.

2019 eNews

  • December 2019 eNews

    The holiday season shouldn't be about spending money, but sharing moments with the ones you love. With these tips and tricks we hope you can have a winter break you enjoy while staying on track with your budget.

    1. Determine your budget. Once you know how much you're allowed to spend, we recommend you put that money onto a visa gift card or into a separate bank account. Once the money runs out, you'll know you have spent all you can on holiday items!

    2. Give personalized gifts. Think about gifts you can make instead of purchasing. For example, put together a family photo album for your parents or bake treats for your friends.

    3. Gift your time. The winter break is a great opportunity to take advantage of your free time and give it to your friends or family. Have a movie night at home, go for coffee, or go for a walk and check ou the holiday lights. Even better, try giving back your time by volunteering in the community.

    4. Create a gift budget. Many people try to purchase gifts that have a similar dollar value to the gift they will be receiving from that person, but you don't need to take on debt to match the gift you might receive. It's okay to be in different places in your financial journey. If this makes you uncomfortable, talk to that person ahead of time and set a maximum price on gifts that you can both afford.

    5. Make a plan. Write down who you need to buy for and allocate a dollar amount to each person. This will allow you to keep your spending on track while you're out gift shopping.

    6. Work together as a group. If your group of friends usually buys gifts for each other, why not do a group gift exchange, a potluck, or just an affordable group activity instead? You can also ask your guests to bring their own drinks if you are hosting a party.

    7. Start your gathering after dinner. If your party starts later, people will have already had dinner and you will only need to put a few snacks out.

    8. Shop generic and discount. If you're hosting a get-together, go for no name brand chips and crackers - no one can tell the difference! Check your local flyer to see what's on sale and use coupons.

  • November 2019 eNews

    As we get deeper into the school year and the holiday break quickly approaches, financial stress can sneak up. Financial issues can have negative impacts on your academic success, so we have prepared a list of ways you can feel more optimistic about your financial situation.

    • Don't overanalyze your balances owing unless you are going to make a payment. Often we will sit and stare at our outstanding debts and let the stress build. Staring at your debt isn't going to fix the problem. It's important to acknowledge your debt, but only continue looking at what you owe when you are going to set up a payment plan or make a payment.

    • Identify your financial stress points. If having a high credit card balance keeps you up at night, put your credit card away for a couple months and only use your debit card. If you find yourself stressing over impulse purchases, try taking out a certain amount of cash per week and only allow yourself to spend that amount.

    • Make one financial decision at a time. Don't try to solve every problem at once. Making too many choices can elevate your stress. Try implementing one new financial change per month. That will give you time to get used to one change before implementing another.

    • Avoid temptation. Limit the amount of time you spend at places you like to spend money. If you know there's one store in particular you have to buy something at every time you go, reduce your visits and you will likely reduce your spending.

    • Don't be afraid to ask for support. If you have questions about student funding options, contact Student Connect. If you are experiencing financial stress, contact the Credit Counselling Society. Lastly, try reaching out to a family member or friend to discuss how you're feeling. They may have been through a similar situation and can provide advice on how they overcame it!

    Feeling like no matter how hard you try you just can't save money? Try setting spending priorities using the 1-2-3 system. This method will help you understand your needs versus your wants, allowing you to regain control of your spending.

    Collect all your bank statements for September and October and number each transaction with a 1, 2, or 3.

    Items that are essential for healthy living (e.g. basic food, shelter, and clothing) should be labelled with a 1. These are the items you absolutely can't live without.

    Items that are not essential but are important to you (e.g. cell phone, internet, running shoes) should be labelled with a 2. These items are important and make your life more enjoyable, but they aren't necessities.

    Items that are not essential and do not significantly improve your life (e.g. candy bars, app downloads) should be labelled with a 3. These items can be costly and are often a waste of money.

    Now that you have all your transactions labelled, add up all yours 1s, 2s, and 3s to see how much you spend in each category - you might be surprised! Your goal for the next month is to eliminate all your spending on number 3 items and reduce your spending on number 2 items. After practicing this habit, you should feel less strapped for cash when your bills come due next month. You might even have some leftover cash to start building your savings!

  • October 2019 eNews

    The Supplementary Bursary application is now open for the 2019-20 academic year! Learn more and check out the eligibility requirements here.

    The application can be a little complex so here are some tips to help you get your application right on the first try!

    • Read the instructions very carefully and ensure you have answered all questions, providing detailed explanations and required documentation.

    • Bank statements for the full three months prior to your application are required, as well as August and September. For example, if you are applying in October, you must provide bank statements for the months of July, August, and September. If you are applying in April, you must provide bank statements for August, September, January, February, and March.

    • Your bank statements must be in PDF format and include your name and a list of transactions, dates, and account balances.

    • If you are married or common-law, you must provide your partner's financial statements as well.

    • An explanation of deposits into your bank accounts is required if it is not easy to identify the source of money / support.

    • If applicable, include documentation (i.e. receipts) for medical expenses, childcare, etc.

    • Review your application from the point of view of someone who doesn't know you or your situation. Is your application clear? If so, hit submit!

    Having trouble managing your spending? Try completing a no-spend day this month (or every month). With easy access to money through your phone or tapping your credit card, spending money can become a mindless habit. By the time the day is over you may have bought a coffee in the morning, at lunch, and then did some online shopping. Often times we don't realize how much money we spend each day! Having a day of no spending could save you a lot of money. Really want to challenge yourself to maximize your savings? Try having a no-spend day once each week.

  • September 2019 eNews

    Welcome to a new school year! With the start of a new semester comes a list of new costs. A common but often miscalculated expense is textbooks, and we want to help you save as much as possible on your study materials.

    • Before buying your textbooks, talk with your professor to see if they are actually required for the class. They may even be able to recommend a more affordable supplementary option.

    • Check out the UAlberta Textbook Exchange Facebook group to see if any of your required textbooks are being sold by another student. Especially if you are taking an introductory course, you should be able to find the same book for a much cheaper rate than at the bookstore.

    If you're in a language class, check if your required novels are available for a more affordable price at Chapters, Indigo, or Amazon. There may even be a digital version online you can purchase for cheaper.

    Check out the University of Alberta Students' Union Used Book Registry to see if someone is selling a book you need.

    Trade your textbooks! If you can find a student who has a book you need and you have a book they need, swap your books for free.

    Visit the campus libraries to see if the books you need are available there.

    Consider selling your own books! If you have any textbooks from the past semester you don't think you'll need anymore, sell them. You can use the money from the sales to purchase your books for the upcoming semester.

    Need to apply for a student loan? Check out our Student Loans 101 video to help guide you through the Alberta Student Loan application from start to finish.

    If you have accessed government loans in a previous academic year and don't need them this year, make sure you fill out the correct paperwork to ensure your loans remain interest and payment free! If you have Canada Student Loans, this can be done online by logging into your National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) account.

    Questions? Contact Student Connect.

  • August 2019 eNews

    Whether you're a returning student or this is your first year at the U of A, we have tips to reduce your living costs this school year:

    • Leave your car at home. If you park on campus you will quickly learn how fast this cost can add up. Taking public transit will also save you money on insurance, gas, registration, and maintenance. Use your UPass!

    • Say no to credit card companies. Often times, credit card companies visit campus at the start of the school year in an attempt to convince students to sign up. The cards they are promoting have very high interest rates, which can quickly eat up your budget if you maintain an outstanding balance.

    • Consider living with roommates. This will not only reduce your cost of rent but you will also be able to split utilities and internet bills.

    • Plan out your meals ahead of time. Cooking at home can save you up to $650 each month (*based on University of Alberta Supplementary Bursary application data). Need meal prep ideas? Check out budgetbytes!

    • Apply for interest-free status on your loans. If you have previously taken out government student loans but don't need them this year, make sure you fill out the correct paperwork to keep your loans interest-free and out of repayment. Contact Student Connect if you have questions!

  • July 2019 eNews

    The summer months don't have to be expensive. Try taking advantage of some of the free activities going on in Edmonton throughout the summer.

    • Go swimming at one of the City of Edmonton's outdoor pools.
    • Take a ride on the Funicular.
    • Hang out with friends and have a campfire at one of the picnic sites in the city parks.
    • Walk the streets and enjoy the atmosphere of festival season.
    • Explore Edmonton's River Valley and trails.
    • Enjoy the free live entertainment at Taste of Edmonton.
    • Watch the K-Days Parade on July 19.
    • Attend the Edmonton Carnaval.
    • Check out the various farmers' markets throughout the city.

    Lots of places offer student discounts so always bring your university student ID with you just in case!

  • June 2019 eNews
    You can now apply for government student loans for the Fall 2019 / Winter 2020 academic year. Make sure you are enrolled in your classes for both the Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 terms before applying, if you plan to apply for a loan in both terms. You apply for loans through the province in which you hold residency. If you need help determining your provincial residency, visit our website.

    Need help applying for your student loan? Attend a free Student Loans 101 workshop! At these sessions, our expert advisors will walk you through the student loan application process, and if all goes according to plan you will submit your loan application by the end of the session!

    If you have any questions about applying for government student loans, contact Student Connect.

    Please note Student Loans 101 sessions are for students that meet the requirements to apply for Alberta Student Loans. If you have questions about the loan application process and are applying for student loan outside of the province of Alberta, please contact Student Connect.
  • May 2019 eNews

    Want to take advantage of the summer break by making some extra money? There are a number of ways to add a little extra cash into your savings account:

    • Have stuff sitting around you no longer use? One person's trash is another person's treasure. Consider selling the items you no longer use online, or throw a garage sale with some friends!
    • Is your neighborhood bustling with pets? Consider starting your own dog walking business for the summer! It's easy and you can make your own schedule. Or try advertising a pet sitting service.
    • Consider offering babysitting services during your free time.
    • Offer tutoring services for high school students. They are still in school for another month!
    • Have a hobby you absolutely love doing but haven't had the chance to turn it into a money making opportunity? Now's the time!
    • Sometimes the best way to make money is to stop spending money. Put some time aside to go through your finances and see where you can cut costs. Identify your spending habits!
    • Now that the snow has melted there are yards in need of a clean-up. Offer your services cleaning windows, painting fences, thatching and raking, etc.

  • April 2019 eNews

    For student loans, full-time and part-time status is not based on course credits but rather on how many hours you are in class each week. If you are enrolled in less than 9 credits of courses, you may still be considered a full-time student in spring / summer. If you apply for a full-time loan when you are in fact part-time or vice versa, your loan application will not be approved and you risk not receiving funding for the spring / summer terms.

    Due to the short semesters, there are really tight deadlines. To make sure you get your loan money, it's really important to get your application right the first time. For help navigating the loan application process, check out our online video. For additional questions, such as your registration status, contact Student Connect.

    Receiving a scholarship or award can greatly relieve some of the financial burden associated with schooling, so we want to help you be successful. Here are our tips to write a strong application:

    1. Provide specific examples of your leadership achievements. We are looking for more than general volunteerism.
    2. Tell us how your leadership experiences have helped you grow.
    3. Explain how you have motivated and inspired others.
    4. Describe the depth of involvement you had in the leadership activities.
    5. Explain how your leadership efforts have made a positive impact in an organization, your school, or your community.
    6. Demonstrate your progression within leadership activities.
    7. Be creative! Creativity can set you apart from other applicants.
    8. Choose a reference that has worked directly with you or supervised you in your leadership role. It should be someone who can give specific examples and has first-hand knowledge of your leadership experience.

    To apply for these competitions and to view eligibility requirements, visit our Undergraduate Academic Scholarships & Undergraduate Leadership Awards webpage.

  • March 2019 eNews

    If you haven't already filed your taxes, here is a list of important documents you will need to have prepared:

    1. T4 Slip - You will / should have received this tax slip from your employer.
    2. T4A Slip - You will receive a T4A if you received scholarships, bursaries, prizes, or awards.
    3. T2202A Slip - You will receive this from the University of Alberta and/or any other institutions you were enrolled in and paid tuition at during 2018.
    4. If you took an exam for a professional certification, you may be able to include this on your tax return, as long as you have the receipt.
    5. If you have children, you may be able to claim some childcare expenses, as long as you have the receipts.

    *Please note that everyone's situation is unique and may require additional information / documents.

    There are a lot of important steps involved in filing your taxes, and it can become confusing to ensure you are on the right track. Get an overview of your tax filing obligations here.

    If you typically complete your taxes using computer software, make sure the software is NETFILE certified so your tax return can be securely submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency directly.

    We understand that filing your taxes can feel overwhelming, but even if it may feel easier to just avoid doing them altogether, there are a number of reasons it's important that you do:

    1. You can't apply for government student loans without having filed your previous year's taxes.
    2. You can carry over your tuition credits. When you're a student at a post-secondary institution, you receive a T2202A form that outlines the tuition fees you paid. This amount is a tax deduction. Because it's unlikely that you will need to use your Tuition Tax Credit while you're a student, you can carry this amount over to future years so you can save on taxes once you're in the working world! This amount is also transferable (up to a maximum) so if a family member is supporting your education financially, you can transfer the credit to them.
    3. You may be eligible for the GST / HST credit that is aimed to help low and middle-income families or individuals handle the additional cost of taxes on goods and services. This credit is paid out four times a year - free money! If you don't file your taxes, you will not receive this credit.
    4. It allows you to build up your RRSP contribution room. Each year, there is a maximum you can contribute to your RRSP (18% of your earned income, for 2018), but if you don't contribute, this amount carries over to future years. This means once you are in a financial position to start contributing to your RRSP, you will be able to contribute that year's maximum as well as any carry over from the previous years. If you don't file your taxes, you won't get this carry over room!
    5. You can claim the interest charged on any government student loans you are currently re-paying. If you don't currently need to use this tax credit, the claimed amount can be carried over to future years.
    6. You may be eligible for the Canada Child Benefit (CFB) if you have children under the age of 18, which is a monthly payment made to families from the government. The CRA uses information from your tax return to determine your payment amount. You can't receive this benefit without filing your taxes each year.

    There are likely other benefits based on your individual circumstances. Please note that everyone's situation is unique and may require additional information / documents.

  • February 2019 eNews

    The easiest way to save money during reading week is to have a staycation! However, if you booked some time away for the break there are a few ways to have fun without breaking the bank:

    • Plan your trip during the week instead of on the weekend. Hotels are a lot cheaper during the week, and gas often is too!

    • Try Airbnb or VRBO, instead of staying in a hotel. These places are often cheaper and include a place to cook so you can save on food costs as well!

    • Check out as another cost saving accommodation method. Most people think hostels are just for travelling abroad, but there are lots of options for places in Banff, Canmore, Jasper, and throughout Alberta.

    • Consider using one of the low-fare airlines if you're travelling outside of the province, such as Swoop or Flair, but make sure you are aware of any hidden costs.

    • Don't forget to check the exchange rate if you are leaving the country. Things may cost you more than you expect.

    • Pack your ONEcard so you can take advantage of available student discounts at various attractions.

  • January 2019 eNews

    Kick off the new year with a new savings plan - the 52 week money challenge. It's simple. Each week of the year you save the number of that week in dollars! For example, in the first week you save $1, $2 in the second week, etc. By the end of the challenge / year you will have saved $1,378! This challenge is a great way to save for something special, or prepare for December, which is typically a high-spending month. Depending on your budget, you may want to try 50 cent increments instead of $1. If you do this, you will save $689 by the end of the challenge. This is a great way to ease yourself into saving!

    Want an easy way to track your savings each week? Download our 52 Week Money Challenge PDF to get started!

    The holiday season can be expensive but you can still start 2019 with a clean slate. Follow these steps to help get a handle on your finances:

    1. Write down all your debts (or bills that need to be paid) that you accumulated over the holiday season, and when they are due.
    2. Make a short-term budget / payment plan that includes all your living expenses and these new debt payment obligations. Depending on the amount of debt collected, your short-term budget might only be for a couple of weeks, or it may be for a few months. No matter the length, it's important to build a plan that you can stick to until the debt is gone!
    3. If you have multiple debts with various interest rates, it may take you a little longer to pay off these debts - and that's okay!
    4. Make sure you limit the use of your credit card and avoid taking on more debt during this time.
    5. Once those debts and bills are paid off, you can go back to your previous budget you were using before the holidays (as long as it was working).
    6. If you found your short-term budget manageable, consider sticking with it but now, instead of having to worry about paying off debts, put that extra money into a savings account each month! You could then use this money over the holidays next year and not collect holiday debt!

2018 eNews

  • December 2018 eNews

    Did you know the average Canadian spent $1,500 during the holiday season in 2017, most of which was charged to their credit cards? Don't start the New Year off with high debt payments from the holidays. Keep track of your spending with our budget-friendly holiday tips.

    It's the season of giving. Here are a number of tips to save on your gifts:

    1. Give personalized, homemade gifts. Giving gifts you made yourself will be less expensive than the traditional store-bought gift and it often means more to the person you're giving it to. Why not make a family photo album for your parents or bake Christmas treats for your friends? There are endless DIYs on the internet for you to explore.
    2. Gift your time. While you're likely often busy with your studies, the break is a perfect opportunity to gift some of your free time to your friends and family. Have an inexpensive movie marathon, go for coffee, or go skating!
    3. Create a budget suited to your personal finances. Many people try to purchase gifts that have a similar dollar value to the gift they will be receiving from that person. But it's okay to be in different places in your financial life. Don't take on unnecessary debt. If this makes you uncomfortable, try talking to that person before the holidays and set a maximum price to spend on gifts that both of you can afford.
    4. Pre-determine how much you're willing to spend. Write down who you want to buy for and allocate a dollar figure to each person. It's easy to get caught up when you see cool items at the mall, but this will allow you to keep your spending on track while you're out gift shopping.

    One of the best parts of the holidays is the food. Try our tips to save on your festive meals:

    1. Start by making a party budget and determine what you can afford.
    2. If you're hosting a holiday party, why not make it a potluck? This will save you a lot of money and time.
    3. Plan your holiday party for after dinnertime. If your party starts later in the evening, people will have already had dinner and you will only need to put a few snacks out.
    4. Shop generic and discount. Go for no name brand chips and crackers - no one will be able to tell the difference.
    5. Ask your guests to bring their own drinks.

    Remember, the holidays are for sharing moments with family and friends, and this doesn't need to take a toll on your budget!

  • November 2018 eNews

    There are a number of different steps you can take to avoid unnecessary financial stress. Here are a few tips to relieve the potential anxiety that may come with handling your finances:

    Don't look at your balances owing unless you're going to make a payment. Often we will sit and stare at our outstanding debts and let the stress build. Look at each bill once. After that there's no point in looking at your bills unless you're going to lessen them. But keep in mind it's incredibly important to always make at least the minimum payment on your debts so you keep them in good standing.

    Identify your financial stress points. If having a high credit card balance keeps you up at night, put your credit card away for a couple months and only use your debit card.

    Be honest with yourself and set realistic goals. If you start by setting a goal that is unrealistic and hard to achieve, just the act of setting that goal can be stressful. Instead, start with small, achievable goals that will boost your confidence as you meet them.

    Don't be afraid to ask for support. If your finances are causing you stress, ask a family member or friend for advice or support. Alternatively, reach out to the Credit Counselling Society.

    Reading week is the perfect time to relax and focus on your personal well-being. Why not take advantage of your time off to get a hold on your finances so you can focus on academics for the rest of the term?

    Start by gathering your bank statements from September and October. Remember this includes all of your bank accounts and credit cards. Now it's time to review them:

    1. Identify common trends.

    a. Is there a place in particular you're spending a lot of money? If so, brainstorm ways you can reduce this spending. Maybe you need to avoid that store altogether.

    b. Is there an automatic monthly subscription or membership you aren't using or forgot about? If there's a gym membership you don't use or a magazine subscription you don't read, now is the perfect time to cancel it!

    2. Review your budget.

    a. If you don't have a budget, make one! Use your bank statements to assist you with allocating dollar figures to each expense. Feel free to use our budget template.

    b. Have you been spending within your budget? If you have overspent in one section you need to either brainstorm ways to reduce this spending or edit your budget to accommodate this higher expense, such as identifying a category that you can reduce spending in.

    3. Put your new budget into action! Be careful not to spend too much money over the break. You can check out our free / cheap events calendar for events in the city you can enjoy without spending your savings.

    We hope you have a successful rest of the semester with less financial stress!

  • October 2018 eNews

    It's really easy to overspend on groceries without realizing it! Take a look at your budget and see if your grocery bill is making it hard to meet your budgeting goals. If you're not sure what an appropriate amount is to spend on food, use a food bank hamper as a guideline. Generally, a food basket is worth $30 and is good for four days. This works out to $7.50 a day. Multiply this by 30 days (one month) which brings us to $225. Keeping in mind that a food basket is to help supplement groceries and doesn't include cooking oils, spices, and many perishables, we can say the average single student can reasonably spend approximately $300 to $350 on groceries per month. Of course this number will change depending on family size. To help relate to these numbers, if you buy a bagel and coffee every morning during the week, your bagel and coffee will eat up 25% - 30% of your grocery budget!

    We sat down with Cory Hodgson, Campus Food Bank Executive Director, and Madi Corry, Programs Manager, to learn more about this on-campus service.

    What is the Campus Food Bank and how does it support students?

    We are a non-profit charity on campus that supports the campus community by providing food hampers to those in need. Our food hampers contain mostly non-perishable items including soups, canned meats, pasta, sauce, rice, and some perishable items like produce. If requested, you can also receive hygiene products, some toiletries, and diapers. Our food hampers are meant to supplement your groceries and are good for about four or five days. Incorporate the Campus Food Bank (CFB) into your budget if you are facing a shortfall. If using the CFB will allow you to buy your textbooks this semester, that's what our service is here for!

    Who can access the Campus Food Bank?

    All members of the campus community including students, staff, faculty, and alumni who have graduated within the last five years can access the CFB. All family members of the household can also access the CFB.

    Where is the Campus Food Bank located?

    We are located in SUB 1-81, next to the elevators. We share a space with the Academic Success Centre.

    How can I utilize your services?

    Using the Campus Food Bank is easy! Simply visit our website and schedule a client registration appointment where we will gather demographic information. If you identify yourself as in need of our service and you are part of the university community, we are here to help you.

    How often can someone use the Campus Food Bank?

    You can use the CFB often as you need to, but a maximum of once every two weeks.

    Are there opportunities to get involved with the Campus Food Bank?

    There are three main streams to get involved with the CFB. The first is our office volunteer program where students volunteer two hours per week helping organize hampers. The application opens at the start of each semester. We also need people to help with our major events, such as Trick or Treat. Lastly, we encourage students and staff to organize their own food drives within their student groups, church, or offices. We rely on these food drives to ensure we can support everyone in need.

    Tell me about the WECAN Food Basket Program that is coming back to campus this year? Who can utilize this program?

    WECAN is a low cost, high quality, bulk purchasing program. Due to the high volume of people buying food, we are able to purchase it at a reduced rate without compromising quality. WECAN, through the CFB, is available to anyone within the university community and you do not need to be a CFB client to use it. Through a $5 membership fee, you have access to a $15 meat order that consists of three varieties of meat and/or a $10 produce order that consists of three kinds of fruit and three kinds of vegetables. The best part is your order is delivered right to campus! You can place as many orders as you want.

    We encourage all members of the campus community to be part of this program. More information can be found on our website at

  • September 2018 eNews

    Did you know the average Canadian spends $3,720 a year on impulse purchases? Don't get caught up in the moment and accidentally spend your savings or student loan money! Here are a few ways to avoid impulse purchases:

    Refrain from browsing online stores. It's easy to get sucked into new arrivals or current promotions and fill up your cart with things you don't need.

    Don't get sucked into sales. Just because something is discounted doesn't mean it is actually something you need to own. Think about whether it is a necessity or if the money is better spent elsewhere.

    Play the waiting game. Wait a week or two and see if you still really want to buy that item. If you are still dreaming about it a while after, you know it's meant to be.

    Make a list (and stick to it) before you go out shopping. This will prevent you from unnecessarily buying things that catch your eye or shopping out of boredom.

    Don't lose track of your budget in the first month. Check out these back to school savings tips:

    School Supplies

    • Plan a supply swap! Chances are that you have excess supplies of one thing and your friends or family have excess supplies of another. Why not see if you can trade? If you get a few people involved you might not need to buy anything from the store at all.

    • Consider buying supplies such as paper or notepads from the dollar store. For items where quality is less important, you might as well try and save some money!

    • Fancy day planners are trending but they can be expensive. Instead, buy a plain notebook at a reduced cost and decorate it yourself! You could even invite a few friends over and decorate together.

    • Compare prices across multiple stores. Most stores will price match or even beat the competitors price by a certain percent. Definitely do this if you need to buy any electronics for school.


    • Do you have a friend who has already taken the class that you are going to take? Try trading textbooks with them or see if they will let you borrow it for free. Chances are you know at least one person who has taken the introductory courses most students have to take.

    • Purchase used textbooks rather than new! Check out the UAlberta Used Book Registry or Books2go UAlberta.


    • It can be fun and exciting to refresh your wardrobe for back to school. Try exchanging your clothes at Value Village. You can collect stamps when you drop off clothes or items, and once you have five stamps you get 30% off your next purchase!

    • Clothing swaps are always happening in Edmonton. You can search Facebook for swaps for you to attend, or try throwing your own with a group of friends. If there are leftover items from the swap, donate them!

    • Sign up for free memberships. Lots of stores will email you perks or birthday discounts. Be careful not to get sucked into the sales though or you might end up buying things you don't need.

    • If you require professional attire for your job, buy items in the same color scheme or stick to neutrals so you can easily mix and match items. Ask the retail worker to help you pick out a couple of staple items that you can wear in a variety of ways.

    • Try buying some accessories to help you jazz up your outfits. This can help reduce the need to purchase multiple clothing items.

  • August 2018 eNews

    It's time to start thinking about the upcoming school year, and the costs associated with it!

    We recommend creating a budget to keep your finances on track during the school year, if you haven't already done so. You can use our budget template to get started.

    Treat all your financial resources (scholarships, student loans, family support, savings, etc.) like a monthly pay cheque. Add up all your resources and divide by eight (the number of months in the academic year) to determine your monthly income. Now use this amount to determine your budget / spending plan. Keep in mind that you will receive 50% of your student loan and scholarship amounts in September and the other 50% in January. Just from this step you will be able to determine if you have enough income for the upcoming year.

    Remember to include all costs beyond your typical expenses, such as lab supplies, school supplies, fees associated with students groups / clubs, etc. These small fees can add up and really throw off your budget if they are not accounted for.

    If you are realizing you may need some extra financial support for the upcoming school year, don't forget to apply for student loans!

    Once you've made your budget, try implementing a few of these money saving tips to give your budget a break:

    Don't buy unnecessary school supplies! Use your supplies from last year - they probably still work, believe it or not!

    Consider buying used textbooks or trading with a friend who has previously taken the same classes.

    Don't forget about your budget during the first week back. It can be exciting and busy but keep your budget in mind while you're catching up with friends.

    Use your U-Pass to get around!

    Take advantage of all the free food during the first week of school. It's one of the best parts.

  • July 2018 eNews

    The summer is here and if you have some spare time, why not consider building a financial calendar? This simple tool can help you stay organized and reach your financial goals!

    Here are a couple things to consider:

    Start by setting your financial goals for the year. Knowing what you are working towards will help you make smart financial decisions centered around what you want to achieve.

    Check in on your financial goals every couple of months to see if you're on track. Is your emergency account growing as expected? Is your debt decreasing as expected? Reward yourself as you reach your goals!

    Make your budget for the 2018/2019 school year in August. This will give you enough time to plan ahead before the busy semester starts.

    Set a date near the end of each month to review your budget and make necessary adjustments. This will help ensure that you'll spend appropriately the following month.

    Set a reminder in February to start collecting your information to file your taxes. Taking the time to get organized will allow you to maximize your return!

    Start thinking about your holiday spending in October. Determine how much you can afford to spend so that you don't splurge unnecessarily on gifts. Starting early will also help you space out your spending so you don't have a huge increase in spending in December.

    Review your expenses for the year in December. Did you meet your goals? Did your budget work for you? Make adjustments for your next year's budget accordingly.

    Remember that everyone's financial situation is unique so your calendar can include whatever makes sense for your individual circumstances.

  • June 2018 eNews

    Whatever adventure you are going on this summer, it will be more enjoyable if you're not stressing about money. Here are a few ways you can stick to your budget while on vacation.

    Set a daily cash allowance. You don't have to forget about your budget just because you're on vacation! Try setting a daily limit on the amount you will spend on food, drinks, and entertainment.

    Do your research before you book a trip! What are the costs of accommodation and transportation to your destination? Take the time to look up cost effective alternatives to help you save money on your travels.

    How much does food cost? Consider choosing a place to stay that has a cooking area so you can make meals instead of having to always eat out.

    Spend time in nature because it's fun and, often free! You can also research if there are any free or cheap events being hosted during your trip.

    Before buying a souvenir, ask yourself if you really need it. Will it just end up sitting in a corner collecting dust? Don't feel pressured to buy all your friends a gift!

    Always ask about student rates to ensure you are getting the best deal.

  • May 2018 eNews

    A TFSA is a savings account registered with the government that can be opened at any financial institution. They are "empty baskets" that can be filled with various types of investments.

    The advantage of a TFSA is that interest growth is tax free. For example, if you put $1,000 into a TFSA and it turns into $1,500 over a few years, you won't be charged any taxes on the interest!

    The annual contribution limit for a TFSA is $5,500 and you can carry over any unused amounts from previous years.

    Before opening a TFSA, we recommend you do your research to fully understand the terms and policies of the account and financial institution.

    Summer is a great time to start building your savings account, whether it's to fund a trip, the next year of school, or just in case of an emergency. Here are a few helpful ways to stack up your savings:

    Name your online savings accounts to help keep you focused. This can be done through your online banking. It's really easy to dip into your savings account when you want to buy a new outfit or go out for a nice dinner, but nicknaming your accounts can help alleviate this temptation and keep you focused on saving money. Nicknaming your accounts is a great reminder of why you are saving that money in the first place; you're a lot less likely to take money from your savings account if it's labelled "Italy Trip 2019."

    Treat your savings like a bill payment! Set up an automatic transfer into your savings account for the days you get paid. It'll be as if you never had the money in the first place so you'll be less likely to miss it.

    Set a plan for how much you should be saving. Some experts recommend saving 10% of earnings, but this is really dependent on your goals and what your overall budget looks like. Refer to the January edition of Money Talks eNews to help you create a SMART goal, which will help determine your savings needs.

    When opening a savings account, try to find one that offers some interest on your savings. Who doesn't like free money? Make sure you fully understand the fees and terms of the account, such as interest rates, monthly fees, penalties, etc.

    Check out this savings calculator to see how fast your savings can grow! Why not get started right now?

  • April 2018 eNews

    It may seem like summer is still a while away, but it is never too soon to start thinking about summer employment. Check out these websites for job opportunities:

    • University of Alberta Career Centre
    • Jobkin

    Remember, if you don't start working until early May you likely won't get your first paycheque until mid to late May, so it's important to budget out your current finances until then. Check out our budget template »

    The Winter 2018 semester is quickly coming to an end so it's important to make sure you're sticking to your budget, especially if you don't have a spring/summer loan coming in! If you find yourself in a pinch for money, you might be tempted to take out expensive loans, such as payday loans, to make ends meet. However, you may want to think twice about using this option to secure some extra cash.

    A payday loan is a short-term loan up to $1,500 that you agree to pay back when you get your next paycheck. They are one of the most expensive forms of borrowing, having extremely high interest rates, which can be up to 550% annually! There are also numerous fees associated with the loan, especially if you're unable to repay on the due date. This has the potential to turn a $300 loan into more than $400.

    Before you apply for any form of loan, always do your research. There are many types of credit, with different costs and features. Here are a few things to consider:

    • Investigate all your options. Shop around for the loan best suited to your individual situation.

    • Find out about all the fees and charges you will have to pay.

    • Determine the interest rate and how it's calculated. Always compare the annual percentage rate (APR), not just the advertised interest rate.

    • Make sure you're able to make the minimum payment.

    • Find out whether the loan can be repaid at any time, and if there is a penalty if you increase your payments.

    • Always ask yourself how comfortable you are with the amount of interest being charged and the term of the loan. Follow your gut; if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

    Instead of resorting to expensive loans, here are some tips to ensure you have enough money to get through the school year:

    • Use cash instead of plastic for a week or two. If you take out a specific amount of money for the week, it will be easier to stay within budget without the ease of tapping a credit card. After a few weeks, reflect on your spending. What did you spend money on, and how much was spent on items you didn't really need? Did you know that people spend as much as 15% more when they make purchases with a credit card or debit card instead?

    • If money is running tight, try identifying the expenses you can reduce.

    • Cutting out an expense or changing a habit is easier if you replace it with something else. For example, if you're always buying coffee in the morning, consider buying a new travel mug that you really like and start making your coffee at home in the morning!

    • It can be difficult to save money while maintaining a social life. However, there are ways to have fun with friends without blowing your budget. If you and your friends usually meet up for dinner on the weekends, try throwing a potluck instead, or have a movie night at home instead of going to the theatre. You can also check out our list of free / cheap events going on in April!

    These simple tricks can help you avoid having to borrow more money! To further understand your financial situation, try this calculator for paying off credit cards and debt.

  • March 2018 eNews

    According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), each year 15 million people are targeted by fraud in Canada. To make sure you aren't one of them, it is important to first understand what types of fraud you might encounter.

    Credit card and debit card fraud

    This occurs when a fraudster uses your debit or credit card without permission. Often, the person will obtain your information electronically or steal your physical card. Most banking institutions have a zero-liability policy for credit cards and will reimburse you for fraudulent charges.

    However, if you ever tell someone your PIN this policy becomes void and you will not be reimbursed.

    Investment fraud

    Fraudsters phone people, convincing them to invest in a company that is about to be listed on the stock market. They will convince you that once the company goes public, the value of the shares will skyrocket. Quickly after you will realize that the company doesn't exist and by then the fraudsters are long gone.

    Another form of investment fraud is referred to as "pump and dump," where you receive communication from a group of people promoting a stock but don't know they own a majority of it. Once more people start buying the stock, the stock skyrockets and then the group owning a majority of it sells all of their stock, causing it to crash. You are then left with worthless stocks, while the group cashes out.

    Mass marketing fraud (phishing)

    You receive an email from what appears to be a legitimate company asking for personal information, and you end up providing it to them. This type of fraud is very common during tax season, where emails appear to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) when they are not.

    The CRA does not send emails with links asking you to provide personal information.

    Reasons people fall for fraud

    • Now that you have a better picture of some of the types of fraud you may be exposed to, it's important to understand why we all fall for fraud:

    • Everyone likes prizes and free things, so we often become susceptible to falling for scams. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

    • Fraud is often committed by people we know, making it much easier for us to believe the scam is legitimate.

    • Fraud often goes unreported because the victim is embarrassed, causing more individuals to become victims.

    • Fraudsters are very convincing - websites look legitimate and often identical in appearance to the real organization/company.

    With this information we hope that the next time you encounter a fraudulent situation, you will be able to identify and avoid it.

  • February 2018 eNews

    Your budget is a living document. Don't forget to look back at your January budget and do a spending analysis. If your actual spending is different from your estimated spending, you need to make adjustments to your expected expenses or make a plan for how to stay within your budget in February.

    Check out what you spent most of your money on and see if there's a way to reduce it. For example, if you spent way over budget on eating out, set a goal to pack your lunches every day and only get coffee twice a week for the next month. Budgeting can take some time to get used to, so don't worry if it didn't work out the first time!

    While many students take advantage of the time off during reading week by travelling, there are lots of ways to enjoy your break in the comfort of your own surroundings.

    Here are a few tips to spare your wallet while still having a fun and relaxing break:

    • Have a staycation! Rather than taking an expensive trip to an all inclusive resort, take advantage of what Edmonton has to offer. Make a list of all the things you've wanted to see in the city, and see how many you can cross off.

    • Embrace the snow and go snowshoeing or skating. If you don't own equipment, you can access affordable rentals from local sporting goods stores.

    • Take a stroll in the river valley. Did you know there is over 160 kilometers of multi-use trails in Edmonton's river valley?

    • During your time off, try cooking a hearty meal at home instead of going out to eat. Maybe you can even throw a potluck dinner with some friends! There are a number of free resources online for cheap meal ideas, such as Budget Bytes or the Good and Cheap cookbook by U of A alumna Leanne Brown.

    • Grab a group of friends and head to the mountains for a day or two. Split fuel and accommodation costs, making it a much more affordable trip. You can even pick up ski passes from InfoLink at a reduced cost.

    • Have a movie night at home rather than going to the theatre. Grab your favorite snacks and enjoy the film from the comfort of your home. If there's a movie you just can't wait to see, get your movie ticket from InfoLink for only $10 with a valid ONEcard.

    • Grab some friends and make a day out of doing some feel-good community service. It can be hard to find time to volunteer during the busy school year, but reading week is a perfect opportunity to give back to the community. Don't forget to take advantage of local events. There are often a number of free or cheap events happening in Edmonton. View the events calendar»

  • January 2018 eNews

    There are times throughout the year when you might endure an irregular expense, which can be challenging to accommodate for in your budget if you aren't prepared for them. However, if you know you are going to have an irregular expense within the upcoming year, start budgeting for it now.

    For example, if you know you are going to fly home to visit family at the end of July, and the plane tickets cost approximately $600, start saving $100 each month so when the time comes to book your flight, you will already have saved for it!

    Make 2018 your year of financial success

    The start of a new year is the perfect time to set your finances straight. We've developed a number of tips to help make 2018 your year of financial success.

    1. Start by setting your financial goals for the year.
      Maybe you want to finally make that dream purchase, or to decrease your overall leisure expenses for the year. Maybe you want to build an emergency fund, or properly budget out your student loan. Determining what you want to achieve is the first step!
    2. Next, make sure your financial goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-framed.
      An example of a SMART goal is to build a $2,000 emergency savings account by the end of the year. This is specific, measurable, and time-framed, as you know how much you need to save, when you will know you have reached your goal, and when you need to reach it by. In order to make this goal achievable and realistic, maybe you will determine that you can save $100 per month when in school and $300 per month when working during the summer.
    3. Once you have determined your SMART goal, it is time to create a budget.
      When building a budget, remember to include all of your fixed expenses and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are those that don't change monthly, such as rent, insurance, or your phone bill. Variable expenses do change monthly, such as groceries and entertainment. They are the expenses you have more control over. This will help you visualize what you need to do to reach your goal. Check out our budget spreadsheet to get you started.
    4. If you're new to budgeting, use January as a practice month.
      Save all your receipts and record your expenses so in February you can plan accordingly. This will help you build a more sustainable budget in the following months. Remember to adjust your budget if your current budget isn't working for you.