At the beginning of September, students left their family nests, many for the first time – and headed off to school to take their next step towards adult independence.  As the Thanksgiving season settles in, many students will make their first trip back home to break from their studies, and reflect on the cost of living independently.

Moving away for school is an expensive decision, especially in today’s economy.  Costs for goods and services continue to rise year over year for all Canadians.  But the amount of disposable income necessary to maintain a living typically falls short of the higher cost of living.

This is particularly true for students, who are further hampered by living on very fixed incomes while attending school.  The Thanksgiving holiday is for many students a time to relive the glory days of childhood, while also planning a budget to maintain an affordable living upon returning to school.

At the beginning of the school year, many schools and financial advice websites offer money saving tips or guides to help students adjust to a frugal lifestyle.  These guides can be used freely by students for advice on reducing the cost of groceries, travel, and other regular expenses to help make the cost of living easier to manage.

Some advice is also freely provided in regards to credit cards, and how to select a card that is best tailored to the needs of students.  Credit cards are a touchy subject for students given the associated interest rates charged upon outstanding balances.

But using the card in a responsible manner helps improve credit scores for students.  Credit scores are important as later in life, they are necessary to acquire larger loans such as mortgages to fulfill dreams of home ownership.

Students can also help themselves by keeping a regular log of their own daily expenses.  Many people create personal expense charts or spreadsheets that are similar to balance sheets used by businesses.  Students use these charts to track money as it is deposited into their accounts, and subtract the expenses paid out of the account.  This process helps ensure that students avoid spending beyond their means.

Living away from home to go to school is the first step into the real world of fiscal independence, and the Thanksgiving holiday is a nice break for students not yet fully ready to embrace that role.  But by the end of the break, many people come to realize that there is only one way to survive – by maintaining an affordable lifestyle.

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