Getting started

Going to school is expensive, not only in terms of direct costs such as tuition and books, but in all the costs that continue whether you are working full-time or not. You might be surprised just how many different ways you spend money.

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Recreation and entertainment
  • Living arrangements/utilities
  • Credit cards and other debts
  • Transportation/vehicle ownership
  • Other

Your spending profile
Read the following spending profiles handout and write down which profile is closest to yours and why. Money has a way of finding a home either in your pocket or in someone else’s pocket. Think about how you spend money. Think about where it goes when it leaves your hands. You might be a composite of two or more profiles. Consider how your spending profile affects your ability to save money or finance your post-secondary education. What changes do you have to make before beginning enrolment in post secondary studies?

Good Time Charlie
"Good time Charlie’s got the money blues." Good Time Charlie loves to spend money. He has a bank account but usually has no idea of how much is really in it. He is always asking to have his overdraft increased to cover cheques he has written. He is the one who always picks up the tab for lunch as he is embarrassed to "split" the bill. Asking for separate bills might make him look cheap. "Good Time Charlie" might have a good job and money coming in. However, he has nothing at the end of the month, hasn’t really thought of saving for retirement, and all of his credit cards are stretched to the limit. He doesn’t complain about being broke because he doesn’t want anyone to know. He carries around a lot of stress over money because he wants to appear prosperous.

Angela Accountant
"Angela Accountant" is an accountant in the truest sense of the word. "Bean Counter" is another name for her. She has tunnel vision. She has kept track of every penny she has ever had in her hand and knows where every penny is going. Her RRSP's are always up to date and she maintains a personal spending plan that would impress anyone. She spends all her waking hours making sure that no one talks her out of even one cent. If she is out with friends for lunch, she will make sure that the bills are split and will check to see if the waiter has added things up properly. She questions every transaction on her bank statement and is in constant contact with the bank regarding items that she thinks should not be a cost to her. Some responses to questions around spending money are, Do we really need this? No it is not in our budget. If we want to retire early we will have to tighten our belt. "Angela Accountant" does not live in the "now".

Focussed Fran
"Focussed Fran" takes it all in her stride. She loves to spend money and does invest in her future. If she thinks a financial risk is worth it, she’ll take it. She plans her trips and has a good grasp of where her money is and where it goes. She saves but not to the point of denying herself the good things in life. She doesn’t stress over money because she knows where it goes and knows how much she can deviate from her planned spending and saving before running into trouble. She uses a monthly budget to keep her on track and always has a miscellaneous account for unexpected expenditures.

Shoestring Steve
"Shoestring Steve" is a student. He lives on a shoestring and knows how to do it. He may be a single student or may be a single parent. He knows where to get all the best deals on clothes, food and entertainment. He saves coupons, buys in bulk, takes part in a community kitchen program and very effectively juggles every cent he has in order to make it through the year. He knows where he is going and knows what it’s going to take to get there. He uses guerrilla warfare when it comes to getting what he and his family need to make ends meet.

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