The Poor Student's Guide to Not Being a Poor Student

Money. With this guide, all this and more could be yours! (Logan Praznik/The Quill)

Not too long ago, an Australian columnist, whose name evades me at the moment, made some comment about millennials not being able to afford houses because they were too busy spending all their money on avocado toast or something like that. This, of course, caused much outrage among millennials, who instead pinned their lack of home ownership on the housing market, which has inflated over the years to the point that thoroughly unimpressive homes in metro Vancouver and Toronto are now somehow worth seven figures.

The funny thing, though, is that millionaires and millennials alike have truth to their arguments. Sure, housing has increased in price without necessarily increasing in value, but some of us are cut off from a comfortable life of wealth and riches because we just can't handle money. We spend it foolishly, then wonder how we're going to scrape together enough to pay for food/rent/tuition/etc. But no matter who you are, you can change this – all it takes is an awakening to the different ways we're all given opportunities to spend more money where we don't need to.

The barest necessity of life, and first area we'll look at, is food. If you eat out frequently (instead of cooking or using your meal plan, if you have one), break that habit. Eating out should be seen as entertainment, not a means of sustenance. Aside from that, if you don't know how to cook, learn how to, using basic, versatile ingredients that can be had on the cheap, such as rice, beans and in-season vegetables.

Next up is transportation – what you do to get around. Chances are, if you live off campus, you get there using some kind of automobile, and if you live on-campus, you still use a car to get elsewhere in the city. Just ask Ancillary Services, who recently stopped issuing parking passes to all but residence students due to a shortage of available lots. Using another means of transportation, like public transit, a bicycle, carpooling, or your own two feet, will save you gas money and some of the maintenance costs of owning an automobile. If you decide to go the extra mile and ditch your car entirely (harder, but still feasible here), you'll shrug off the costs of insurance, parking, and the rest of your maintenance as well.

Now, on to the nebulous concept of "stuff". Here's a simple mantra: if you don't need it, don't buy it. Shops may try to drag you in with promotions like "40% OFF" something, but you can get 100% off if you don't buy it in the first place - a screaming deal! Give yourself a week to think over a non-essential purchase, if necessary, and chances are, the hype will wear off. Tracking your spending (all of it) and setting a rigid budget may also kill your urge to buy something frivolous. Be especially wary of advertising targeted towards students, as it’s often just a pitiful discount presented in a poor attempt to say “Hey, we’re hip with the cool kids who are trying to be frugal!” (Looking at you, Murray Chevrolet, with your “deal” of $750 off a new vehicle in this year’s Paw Pass.)

That's all I have in this article, but of course, it doesn't end here. The Internet, being the vast compendium of knowledge that it is, is your friend. Use it wisely, and you'll be able to stretch your dollar even further. Then, maybe one day, you can have your house and eat your avocado toast, too.