Mandy Mail is director of student banking at Royal Bank of Canada.
The return to school is just around the corner. This can be a time of excitement, but also anxiety.
For some students, it may be their first time living on their own, which can be stressful for both students and parents. With the costs of education continuing to rise, finances may also be keeping everyone up at night. But a recent student-finances poll conducted by Royal Bank of Canada found that the things students are stressed about are quite different than the concerns their parents think they have.
Parents believe their children are most anxious about their happiness after graduation. According to the poll, the main concern parents think their children have is whether their program will help them land a job they will be happy with.
For students, the biggest worries about life after graduation are actually about careers and cash. Their top concern is being able to find work, followed by making enough money to support themselves.
After graduation, one of the biggest steps in gaining true independence is moving out of the house. Eighty-two per cent of students are concerned about earning enough money to cover their student debt repayment and living expenses.
Despite the appeal of home-cooked meals and minimal living expenses, 58 per cent are worried about how long they will have to continue to live at home before they can afford to move out and launch independent lives.
Only 35 per cent of parents share this concern. Most parents like having their kids at home and want to help them get a good start when they eventually move out.
Understanding the sources of student stress can help parents to provide the support their children need as they complete their education and enter the job market to find a career that not only pays the bills, but is rewarding and makes them happy.
Here are five tips to help both students and parents alleviate stress as they head back to class:
Create a budget
Budgeting is the best way for students to keep track of their finances. Make a budget for larger monthly expenses and discretionary spending – and stick to it. Planning and budgeting allows students to maximize their finances and minimize their debt coming out of the school year.
Take control of daily expenses
While larger expenses such as tuition and rent are fixed, students have opportunities to save money every day. Set weekly or daily limits and track expenses to avoid overspending. Consider using a rewards or cash-back credit card, and look for student discounts on movies, hair salons, clothes and other retail purchases.
Use online tools
There are tools and resources available online to help students achieve their financial goals. Check out interactive calculators and apps for budgeting and expense tracking that provide customized information covering many areas of personal finance.
Research educational funding
Knowing all financial options is an excellent way for students to manage their finances. Start with savings and any Registered Education Savings Plan. Apply for the many student scholarships and bursaries available. If more is required, consider a government loan and explore student lines of credit. By doing the research today, they could get what they need to put toward their education and reduce expenses and debt tomorrow.
Get expert advice
It can be overwhelming for students to juggle their studies, finances and social life. Talking to experts who can help, such as staff who manage student assistance programs or a bank representative who can offer advice on no-fee student bank accounts, will minimize stress and make the school year easier to handle.