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September 2017

Planning for university - my daughter speaks up!


by Rona Birenbaum  |  Add Comment

A real student's thoughts on money and heading to University

This blog features a very special guest – my university-bound daughter, Rachel! 

Not too long ago my daughter and I had the following conversation about budgeting. If your child is anywhere from newborn to uni-bound, I hope you’ll find it useful.

Mom: How prepared are you for the costs you’ll be facing?

Rachel: I’ve always been a saver. It was you who taught me that but I was never really conscious of it until recently. It’s just something I’ve done. Now that I’m heading off to university, I have money saved because I’ve been focused on it since I was a kid.

Mom: And where do your savings come from?

Rachel: I started getting money for presents when I was 10 or 12. When I had a birthday party and got money, or a family member gave me some, I’d give some of it or all of it to you to put away in my account.

Mom: You have a lot of savings – more than just gifts! How else have you saved?

Rachel: Working. I’ve worked for the past three summers, plus there’s the dog walking. It’s fun, the neighbours appreciate it, and it’s a little extra money. 

Mom: So what’s prevented you from spending it all?

Rachel: I’ve always been more of a saver than a spender. I like having a reserve, and being able to buy things when I want them. A laptop for school, or a trip with my friends. 

Mom: What kind of expenses are you expecting, as you head off to Universityland?

Rachel: There’s lots I hadn’t thought of! A shower caddy because I’ll be sharing a bathroom. School stuff like paper, binders, pencils, pens. Also, most students use laptops to take notes, so there’s one big expense I need to plan for. I’ve also read that handwritten notes are better … that they help you take in the information better, but … I’ll still need a laptop. Transportation, too. If I’m living on campus I’ll be fine but when I move off I’ll have to pay for rent and getting to campus.

Mom: Yeah, those are some of the bigger expenses. Another thing that you might not take for granted is needing to sign a lease. You’ll only want your space for 8 months of the year but the landlord will want you to pay for 12. You can’t just budget for 8 months because you only need 8. And your expenses will change when you’re out of residence. You’ll be paying for all of your food, household supplies, all those things. And thing you haven’t mentioned – probably you just didn’t want to mention it to me? Your social life? A “beer fund” even? What do you think these expenses will be?

Rachel: That’s true. It’s not all about school. I guess I’ll start by figuring out how often I want to go out, set a budget for each time, make sure I have enough.

Mom: And tell me again – make my heart glad – why aren’t you going to be burdened with the cost of tuition, residence, or food?

Rachel: Because my mummy and daddy set me up with an RESP!

Mom: As soon as you were born! We encourage all our clients to have one.  If you start early enough, save hard, and take in the money the government contributes, it goes a lonnng way to covering university expenses. Tuition, residence, all the big stuff. How else do you think saving and budgeting for all these years has helped you prepare for post-university life?

Rachel: It’s just become a habit. It’s second nature for me to put money away rather than keeping it to spend.

Mom: You’ll still be working summers – in fact 4 months instead of 2. You’ll earn more money, gain more experience. It will be even more important to manage that money, because before you know it university will be over, you’ll be getting a full-time job and you’ll be independent. How is continuing to build that nest egg going to help you when you graduate?

Rachel: It will make me independent sooner! Sorry, mom, here comes the bad news, I have no plans to come back and live at home.

Mom: Dad and I are going to miss you SO much when you leave. But I’m so proud of how hard you’ve worked, and how diligent a saver you are. Thanks for being a good sport about this. Lots of students will be going away for the first time in September, and I hope that hearing what you say will help them plan for their own university experience.


This information is of a general nature and should not be considered professional advice. Its accuracy or completeness is not guaranteed and Queensbury Strategies Inc. assumes no responsibility or liability.

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