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budget builders

A person holds a pen while tapping on a calculator.Dutko/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Postsecondary students juggle a lot, often for the first time. One of the main things they encounter after leaving high school is managing their finances. While money management for students is a big topic, encompassing everything from budgeting to navigating loans, there are some simple steps they can take to trim spending and avoid costly mistakes. Money experts focused on students offer the following tips.

Justin Bouchard, an academic advisor at the University of Manitoba, and a money expert on Young and Thrifty, a personal finance website

You want a credit card without any annual fees. As a student, you should never pay annual fees on your banking or credit cards at all. The benefit of having a credit card is just to build up your credit rating because you need to have some credit history. I'd put a low maximum, such as $500, on any credit card just to be safe. You can't go too crazy.

Darran Fernandez, associate registrar and director of student support and advising in enrolment services at the University of British Columbia

If you know you're going to have five coffees in a week, make sure you put that money on your student card because some places offer a discount to students if they use their student card. So those five coffees may only cost you four.

There are discounts for students that can help reduce costs in certain cases. Get into the habit of asking for those things so you get the best deal possible, such as when you enter into something like a cellphone contract. There's often an opportunity for negotiation.

We encourage students to use different apps that are free and accessible to track their spending, as opposed to using a credit card. There are a number of apps out there that let you take a photo of a receipt, then scan it and put it into a line item in your budget, so you know what you're spending.

Take advantage of the financial advice universities offer. We have over 20,000 students who are seeing our team members at least a couple of times a year to talk about money or something related to it. That's just under 60 per cent of our students.

Sheila Walkington, co-founder of Money Coaches Canada in Vancouver

Don't take on more debt than you need. You don't need a fancy car, your own one-bedroom apartment or to eat out all the time because you'll be paying for it later. I have clients who are in their 40s who are still paying student loans.

After graduating, have a plan to pay your loans back. If at all possible, continue to live like a student while you're still used to it. The moment we upsize, it's difficult to go back. Power down and get the bulk of it done in your early years before you want to start a family or buy a house or take some career risks.

Stay away from the fancy coffees. If you need to buy a coffee when you're out, go for regular. And buy used textbooks whenever you can and resell them when you're done.

Responses have been edited and condensed.