Ways to Save

Everyone knows that saving money is important. So why don’t we save?

Realistically, it’s hard to start this practice when you are feeling strapped for money. There is always a bill to pay, the newest piece of technology to be had, or a trip that you really want to take. But buying a home, travelling the world, supporting your education and one day, your children’s education takes planning and careful management of your resources.

Saving is a habit. It needs to be practiced and with repetition it will naturally become part of your life. So the idea is to start now and make saving part of your everyday life.

No matter how much money you save – even a dollar a week will start a habit that will be reinforced and feel rewarding as you begin to watch your account grow. So when that moment comes to dip into your savings for your first big investment, you will be reassured in knowing that everything will financially be okay.

The following tips will show you how you can stay on track, while still doing what you find necessary, all while saving money.

Which of the following money saving ideas work for you?

Entertainment

  • Share cable/satellite expenses with roommates and opt for inexpensive options like Netflix
  • Have a drink before you go to the bar. Nurse one drink throughout the night and enjoy non-alcoholic beverages. It’s cheaper and ensures you arrive home safely.
  • Go to clubs that don’t require a cover charge. Drinks often cost less at campus bars.
  • Look for free on-campus activities and events. Visit the Mohawk College Events Calendar and the MSA Events Calendar (opens new window) today!
  • Enjoy the free classes at the David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre (DBARC) when you sign up for a gym membership! All full time fee paying students receive a free membership and access to all the classes. All non-full-time fee paying students, check out the affordable rates here.
  • Discover free or inexpensive community events and activities. Visit Tourism Hamilton (opens new window) to find out more.
  • Check out the MSA Student Discount Card (opens new window) for awesome savings!

Banking

  • Most banks offer free banking to students – check and make sure you have the student rate!
  • If you use your debit card, make sure the merchant isn’t charging you a fee.
  • Request cash back while making a purchase to avoid making that expensive transaction at the ATM.
  • Use ATM machines at your branch to avoid charges. If you take out money at a different bank or branch, you may be charged by both institutions adding up to $3-$4 per transaction.
  • When looking to open a savings account, make sure to settle on one that has a high interest rate while having little to no fees.
  • If you do not have enough money to cover your bills, there will be a Non-Sufficient Fund (NSF) charge. Both the creditor and your bank will charge you fees that can be substantial. An $80 fee is not unusual per returned cheque. Check with your financial institution for more details.
  • Utilizing online pre-authorized payments will mean you never miss a payment, you won’t incur late penalties and you will maintain a good credit report.

Cellphones

  • Shop around for the cheapest plan for your needs. Some providers often have student deals or family bundles that can save you a lot of money.
  • Consider if you really need that data plan or whether you can get by with your computer or the free Wi-Fi connection around campus and many community locations.
  • If you consistently make long distance calls, think about adding it to your plan as it is the cheapest way to go.
  • Take advantage of free apps that allows you to text, call or video chat with family and friends.
  • Make sure you always check your bills for extra charges that you did not agree to or weren’t included in your plan. Errors can happen!

Dining 

  • When dining out, buy one larger meal or simply order appetizers and share.
  • Find out if your favourite restaurant offers daily specials.
  • Look for meals that have a fixed price and include additional beverages or sides. The “extras” can really add up.
  • Restaurants often charge exorbitant prices on beverages so water is a good alternative. If you do get a drink, check and see if it’s refillable.
  • Some restaurants allow you to bring your own wine (BYOW). Check out this site for a list of participating restaurants (opens new window).
  • Search for coupons and codes online prior to going out! You may find a great deal that can save you and your friends some money ie. Promotions for 2 or more dinners.
  • Visit the MSA Student Food Bank (opens new window) in case you are in need of emergency food.
  • Check out the Mohawk College Farm Stand and Community Garden for fresh and healthy food, brought to you by the Sustainability Office!

Groceries and Household Products

  • Eating out can be tough on the wallet so remember it is always cheaper to buy food and make it yourself!
  • Make use of loyalty programs and points that can help save you money.
  • Visit discounted supermarkets such as No Frills, FreshCo or Food Basics.
  • Buy what is on sale and make your meals around that week’s sale items.
  • Make enough food for leftovers and use that for lunch the next day.
  • Be wary of stocking up on sale items. If you have your entire food budget sitting on a shelf or in a freezer, you may not have enough for your perishables as the week goes on.
  • Buy produce in season! (opens new window) Check out this availability guide as a start.
  • Keep those flyers and see if your grocery store does price matching- getting everything in one place instead of running around is a time saver!
  • Visit some free coupon sites! Here are a few:

Clothing

  • Wait for sales and coupons! The best times are just before and after the holidays and at the end of seasons.
  • Ask for gift cards among family and friends, especially those that are for the mall. You will be free to use mall gift cards for any store for any type of item.
  • Use shops that are known to carry second hand clothing as well as new items. Talize and Value Village are a couple of examples.
  • Looking to make a couple of bucks from your used accessories and furniture? Check out these consignment stores (opens new window) in Hamilton.
  • Watch out for clothes that need to be dry-cleaned. It’s a costly expense.
  • Create a designer look with pieces that resemble name-brand items but cost less.
  • Repurpose clothes that you no longer wear!

Transportation

No matter where you live while attending Mohawk, transportation costs are something you have to consider. It doesn’t matter if you’re simply going to campus, travelling around town or exploring what Canada has to offer, there are many ways to save money. Operating a car can be expensive, so consider carpooling, joining a car share program or using public transportation.

Personal Car

If you’re planning on using your own car, here are a couple of ways to save:

  • Stay on your parent's insurance plan.
  • Wash your own car.
  • Organize your errands and minimize your total travel time.
  • Learn basic car maintenance procedures and perform simple repairs yourself!

Visit Gas Buddy (opens new window)
Use this tool to shop around for the cheapest gas in your area!

Join Mohawk's Carpooling Program (opens PDF, 95kb)
Get 50% discount off Mohawk parking fees when you carpool!

MSA Home and Auto Insurance (opens new window)
The MSA is often able to secure discounted rates due to the buying power of thousands of students.

Transportation and Sustainability at Mohawk

As part of Mohawk’s Sustainability plan, the college outlines various options of travel, such as Car Share, the Bike Loan Program and more. You will be saving money on gas, maintenance and insurance by utilizing these!

Remember to bring your student ID card to external transportation not offered directly through Mohawk, as many programs offer discounts upon validation.

Visit Mohawk Sustainability!

Additional Modes of Transportation

International Student Identity Card (ISIC) (opens new window)
The only internationally-recognized student ID. You can use it for travel, accommodation, food and drink, and entertainment, while receiving great discounts anywhere you go.

VIA Rail Discounts (opens new window)
VIA Rail offers discounts for students, children, members of the First Nations, Aboriginals and compassionate fares. Booking in advance will also lower your fares.