Juggle your credit, savings and education like a boss

It can be tough to save for a rainy day when you’re on a student budget. Especially since you’d probably (read: totally) rather spend your paycheque, loan, scholarship or transfer from grandma on something else.

Updated October 15, 2021

Whether you’ve got your eye on a new winter coat, bike, car, dinner out, metro pass, the latest iPhone, a weekend getaway or an apartment that doesn’t tilt to one side, chances are you want something. Who doesn’t?

And to get it, you need—you guessed it—money. To help you pick up good saving habits and start putting a little something away, we’ve got a few suggestions and tips for you.

Start off on the right foot with a student account

Before you can start putting money aside, you need somewhere to put it, right? You need an account that lets you deposit your paycheques, potential loans and scholarships, withdraw cash, pay your bills (like your fees, cellphone, car and insurance) and buy stuff with a debit card. But how do you know which account is right for you?

Well, you’re in luck! At Desjardins, we have just the the thing for our young and student - This link will open in a new window.1 members tailored to your situation. And since we know that every penny counts, we offer free monthly plans with unlimited transactions. Now that’s what we call a deal

Save without a second thought (or almost)

Now that you have an account, it’s time to talk goals and dreams!

Yup, your goals! Like that cross-Canada road trip you’ve been planning with your partner and your dog. Or redecorating your apartment and finally getting furniture that you love. Or that emergency fund you’ve been wanting to start up just to be on the safe side.

We all have goals—the trick is making them come true on a modest income. And granted, figuring out where to start can seem overwhelming. That’s why you can always meet with an advisor for help making a financial plan that’s right for you. But in the meantime, here’s a life hack to get you started:

Activate the Savings goals - This link will open in a new window. tool directly from your AccèsD profile. It will help you:

  1. Create a savings goal (My Savings Goal). Save up for that dream vacation, new car or to have some just-in-case money.
  2. Set a savings amount (say, $3,000).
  3. Open the account where the amount for your goal will add up.
  4. Determine the amount and frequency of your automatic transfers. And then get out there and make your dream happen!

According to Angela Iermieri*, Financial Planner at Desjardins, choosing to save is a great start, even if it’s just $20 per week. “You won’t even realize you’re saving,” she says.

We really want to help you achieve your wildest dreams, which is why we made it easy for you to create up to 10 goals in your account. Though 10 might seem like a lot, if you add up everything you want to do in the short and medium term … Ten doesn’t seem like that much after all!

And like Angela says, “The more goals you set for yourself, the more you can achieve.”

What does $20 a week come out to?

If you do the math, $20 a week works out to $1,040 a year and $10,400 after 10 years— and that’s without counting the interest that gets deposited into your account! Now, imagine if you could go from $20 to $40 a week. Just think about it—it’s exciting!

One of the many great things about the Savings goals tool is that you can’t just use your debit card to spend the money you’ve put away for your goals. (It’s safe—even from you!) Yes, we’ve all been there. Want has some useful tips for how to avoid impulse spending? Here’s an article - This link will open in a new window. you might be interested in.

Credit cards: Handy? Yes. Magic? No.

Saved up enough for that ski week in Whistler or camping trip at Sandbanks Provincial Park? Congrats! With all that money you’ve saved up, you need a credit card for all sorts of things: to rent a car, book a hotel/Airbnb and reserve a bus ticket. They make life a whole lot easier.

With our line of student credit cards - This link will open in a new window., you can tap to pay in-store and shop online. You’ll also get:

  1. Cash back3
  2. Insurance for your mobile devices4
  3. Free travel insurance for the first 3 days1

Naturally, credit cards need to be paid off

That’s the less fun part of credit cards. The best advice we can give you? Use your card only when you have the funds to pay off your purchases.

On this topic, Angela has another pearl of wisdom for us: Pay off your credit card fully every month. “It’ll help you avoid spiralling into debt,” she says. “If you only pay the minimum, you’ll end up paying more in the long run.”

Who wants to pay twice for their road trip from Gatineau to Lac-Saint-Jean? No, thank you!

From course credits to credit score

Paying off your credit card on time is a great way to build your credit score.

Why does that matter? Because the higher your credit score, the easier it will be to have loans approved—whether it’s for your first new car or the house you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid, after graduating: “It takes years to build up a good credit score, but you can wreck it overnight,” says Angela.

So to sum up:

  1. Having a credit card is super useful—it makes buying things easier.
  2. Don’t forget to pay it off ASAP for the good of your credit score.

Having a line: Is it a good idea?

If we’re talking about a line of credit, it depends!

As you know, some expenses can make you dizzy. The end of the month comes around and everything is due at the same time: bills, rent, tuition and books, transit passes, bike/car repairs. A line of credit lets you withdraw certain amounts as a loan to repay, at a lower interest rate than a credit card. It also helps you fulfill your commitments to providers, which helps build a good credit history.

But just like with a credit card, you should only use it when absolutely necessary and only if you have the funds to pay it back.

Still have questions?

Since we always have 1 or 2 that come to mind later, feel free to speak with one of our advisors about student offers—just click here. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the site for more tips and advice.

* Financial Planner and Mutual Fund Representative for Desjardins Financial Services Firm Inc.
1 Some conditions apply.
2 Some conditions apply.
3 Cash back is calculated based on a percentage of purchases paid with the card. Merchandise returns, cash advances, cash advances by equal instalments, RRSP financing, promotional and regular cheques, in-store Accord D financing, interest charges, purchases of foreign currency, electronic funds transfers, money orders and any type of purchase made in a casino are excluded.
4 Certain conditions and restrictions apply. Insurance coverage is underwritten by American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida (ABIC). ABIC and its affiliated companies and subsidiaries carry out commercial activities in Canada under the company name Assurant®. ®Assurant is a registered trademark of Assurant Inc. Details about your insurance coverage, including definitions, benefits, restrictions and exceptions, are set out in the insurance certificate provided with your card.

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