Financial Wellness is the capacity to plan and manage income and expenditures. When someone is struggling financially it can affect their physical, emotional and spiritual health. The stress from financial worries can affect your academic performance, interpersonal relationships and your job.
Financial Wellness encompasses the skills of:
Managing a monthly budget
Understanding loans, interest, payment obligations, and credit cards
Understanding the financial impact of one's decisions
Signs of Financial Wellness:
Learning how to manage money and establishing a personal budget
Setting realistic goals and living within your means
Not getting into credit card debt
Thinking long term and saving for the future
Strategies to Enhance Financial Wellness
By learning how to balance the money you have with the money you owe, you can achieve financial wellness. Here are some tips:
Set goals for yourself when it comes to saving and paying debt
Develop an annual budget and use it wisely. The ideal budget is one that allows you to pay off your debt while saving for emergencies and indulging in the occasional treat
Use your debit card or cash rather than a credit card for making purchases
Borrow only what you need. Banks will be more than happy to increase the limits on your credit line or credit card. Unless you really need to increase your limit, keep it as low as possible.
Be aware of overdraft fees or late fees
Pay bills on time, every month
Recognize bad habits. Be conscious of, and avoid shopping to relieve stress or boredom. Also, try not to make impulse purchases
Review your progress. Every 6 months, look at your debt and savings. Reassess your plans and goals
Know what to do if you get into trouble (e.g. talk to a financial counselor etc.)
Practical Tips for Saving Money
Eat nutritiously on a budget by taking your lunch, snacks and drinks with you to school.
Vegetables & fruit can be expensive (especially in the winter). Remember that canned and frozen options are nutritious alternatives.
Cut grocery costs by comparing labels. Certain brands may cost as much as double the store brand for an almost identical item.
Don’t be embarrassed to use coupons - every dollar counts.
Take advantage of all student discounts. Carrying your student ID with you at all times is a good idea. Many retailers have reduced rates for students (e.g. 10% off at Loblaws on Tuesdays). For more student discounts visit: welcomestudentpages.ca/western.htm
Exercise on a budget by playing outdoor sports with friends or simply going for a walk.
Buy used items and save money on everything from textbooks to clothing to furniture. Check out local garage/yard sales and advertisements for free or cheap items on websites such Kijiji.
Live with roommates. Sharing rent and utilities is a big help financially.
Find local free or cheap events to attend. Look for postings on bulletin boards in the UCC and find information about events in newspapers or online.
Engage in low-cost activities like hiking, biking, potluck dinners, movie or games nights at home.
Use phone cards and/or Skype/Facetime to communicate with friends and family back home
Have a clothing swap with friends. Gather clothes that no longer fit or that you haven’t worn in a while and get your friends together to trade items. (You can do the same for household items and books.)
Watch movies on campus – tickets are less than local theatres.
Sell things you don’t use anymore. Have a video game, book, or piece of clothing that's in good shape that you never use any more? Consider selling it on Kijiji.
Keep a change jar for your coins. Check your purse and pockets for coins at the end of every day, and when the jar is full, go down to a bank or change machine. In the meantime, that jar of change can be for emergency bus fare or other small expenses.
Track your spending. Keep a spending diary for a couple of weeks and write down everything you buy (including coffee, magazines, etc.) See how much you’ve spent and consider how you could better manage your cash flow. It’s amazing how the little expenses add up!