Our resident finance enthusiast, Wale will be sharing his ‘Monday Money nuggets‘ through the month of June.
Hope everyone is excited to learn from Wale’s experiences and insight.
This is not financial advice but simply someone sharing their experience and perspectives on money matters.
Coming to Canada as a student in 2015, I sort of understood the financial implications.
I remember talking with a friend who already was in Canada who gave me a perspective of how the minimum wage could sustain you as a student. Bam! My mind opened! I started calculating the imaginable possibilities (with a minimum wage)
Having done my Undergraduate and Nigerian Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program back in Nigeria, basic budgeting, spending, saving were not new concepts to me. Every semester, my parents would give me a little amount to shop for school items and also for stipend in school, but I always looked for a way to save no matter how small. I mean, you don’t want to spend all your money while you are in school and then have nothing during the holidays. Also, getting paid N#19000 during NYSC meant managing finances, so you don’t soak garri (granulated cassava) for the most part of the month.
Fast forward to being in Canada, I was hungry for a job right off the get go. Fortunately, I got an opportunity to work in a professional space a couple months after I started my Master’s degree program.
I had financial paralysis at the start of my stay in Canada which is typical amongst immigrants. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy anything. I was converting everything back to the naira equivalent – Biggest mistake😀. My roommate at that time had to force me to start buying things.
There’s no free money in Canada, so you are rewarded as you spend time working.
As International students, immigration only allows 20 hours of work time in a week – shey you said you were coming to study, so you cannot be working all day.
However, during the off-school period, mostly during summer, if you choose to work 24 hours in a day, you are allowed.
This latter part was where I took advantage of, and made about $18000 in one summer. Sounds enticing yea?🤪
I have also realized that rather than looking for something to do to earn during holidays, young students would rather use this time to flex, and in a twinkle, the holidays are over. A common saying is “I need to relax after such a stressful exam.“
While it is good to relax after exams, it is important to make sure relaxing doesn’t become a full blown vacation.
2. Budget, Leverage Opportunities and Save
I do believe every student has to decide first which direction they want to go financially. Do you want to be that extravagant, flamboyant student or the conservative one? This influences how you budget every expense
Just like I had done when I was still in undergrad, I already understood there was no way I would spend all my monthly stipend without saving some regardless of how small. In my mind, I always had the amount to save less than the total stipend for the month. For example, if $100 can’t cater for your needs, then having $95 won’t make a difference, but that’s a savings of $5. What it requires is cutting your coat according to your size, and cutting down on expenses. I remember I had to move residence at some point because monthly rent was too high. I had to trade the comfort of having more privacy to a shared residence for a while.
A number of opportunities present themselves in Canada especially when you are a student, and when you are within a community, certain perks could be advantageous.
In my case, I leveraged the opportunity of saving weeks of spending on groceries which came as a result of my community. On several occasions during an event, there would be surplus food at the end, and I leverage that at different times to get a head start on my savings. I saw no reason why as a student, I’d be too concerned about the thoughts of other people towards this action. As a matter of fact, a number of students followed suit after me and started doing this. The effect of this may seem small, but overtime, it accumulates.
3. Ease the financial burden off Parents
One thing many young students forget is, while this phase is an opportunity to get educated academically, it is also a disguised opportunity for you to start being responsible. Parents do their best to take care of their children’s needs, which is their responsibility.
As an International student, being in Canada is definitely high maintenance, and a financial pull except if you are a relative of Bill Gates. So, a very good and responsible thing to do is to watch how you spend, and also see ways where you can support your parents no matter how small.
4. Give to loved ones back home in Nigeria
Finally, even as a student and being in Canada, I was in a better position to help a few people back home. I know the easiest thing to say is, “what I have is not enough for me”, but this is also part of the sense of responsibility I talked about before. A $10 converted to local currency could mean something tangible for someone back home, so it doesn’t have to be a full blown charity.
Again, even as a student, you want to develop the act of giving. This has the ability to essentially shape your financial mindset later as you grow in life as you will see in the next series of Money Mondays with Wale
This post was originally written by Morenike Ajidagba and published on Musingswithmo.com. Feel free to send an email with questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.