1. Pick the cheapest university business program
Neither Amanda and I knew what we wanted to study in university so we kind of let our parents and family decide for us. Being young and without a mind of our own, we listened and chose a business degree so that it’d be easier to find a job after graduation.
Coincidentally, we both ended up in the Business Management program at Ryerson University because it was the best value for a business degree out of all the other Toronto universities at the time. Attending university outside Toronto wasn’t an option for us because we needed to pay for our own tuition costs and we wouldn’t be able to afford tuition plus residence.
Looking back, this decision ended up working in our favour and we didn’t have to drown in tuition and residence costs more than we really needed. We were able to land decent entry level positions after graduation.
2. Working all throughout university
The biggest reason we were able to save a sizeable down payment was that we were always working while we were in school. Whether that was working 15+ hours while completing a full course load or taking advantage of full time summer internship/co-op opportunities and continuing to work our part time jobs.
This involved a little bit of planning so that either our course schedules aligned to our work schedule or vice versa. We weren’t in a hurry to graduate our 4 year program and ended up staying back another full semester so we could build some relevant work experience before graduating which immediately helped us transition into full time employment upon graduation.
3. Work and school didn’t give us much time to spend
Since Amanda and I spent most of the week either in school or at work, the times we did get a chance to hang out, we spent time doing some of the simplest things that really didn’t cost anything – playing basketball, bicycling, dog sitting for friends/family, watching YouTube, studying at the library, etc.
4. Buy used where possible
One of the biggest expenses for university students is the cost of tuition textbooks which can usually cost over $1,500 a year if bought new. We made sure we bought used textbooks when possible which were generally 25% to 50% cheaper than new.
We also tried to buy other things that were used like cellphones, clothing, purses, etc. We didn’t mind doing this because we would look for things that were rarely used and the savings were huge compared to the new products itself.
5. Sell what we no longer needed
We always tried to sell our textbooks as soon as the semester ended so that we could get the most out of it (before new editions could be published). Most of the time, we could resell our used textbooks for almost the same price as what we bought for it used so it ended up costing us almost nothing.
We still keep this habit to this day and most recently when our wedding was over, we listed everything we could sell (wedding dress, evening dress, cake stand, diy wedding decor, etc).
6. Don’t be shy with free stuff or student discounts
There was a lot of free stuff and services available on campus and we took advantage of it. From school supplies to career counselling to fitness memberships, there was endless free support available to help make school manageable and more fun.
Around campus, a lot of restaurants and stores offered student discounts ranging from 10% to 20% off if a student card was shown at the time of payment. We were proud to be students and used this whenever we could. We were surprised every time we saw other students willingly pay full price because we knew they were missing out.
Although we aren’t students anymore, we still take advantage of free samples by subscribing to Sample Source and staying up to date on coupons and promos to avoid paying full price for a lot of the stuff we have to buy.
7. Apply for scholarships, grants, and bursaries
There were scholarship, grants and bursaries applications that we applied for which helped with paying our tuition. It was literally free money but involved setting aside a few hours to complete the applications. I personally got over $7,000 in scholarships my first two years of school.
And last but not least…
It definitely helped that both our parents pushed us to be financially independent as soon as we got to university by making us pay for our own tuition and household expenses. They deserve some credit as well!