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Header 3 Toronto based university students get real about their finances
• Sep. 22, 2023

As almost anyone who lives there can tell you, Toronto is one of the most expensive cities in Canada.

And as many Toronto-based post-secondary students head back to campus, they're starting to think about their wallets, and their bank accounts, as they navigate their new class schedules, athletics, extracurriculars and part-time jobs in the country's biggest metropolis.

According to a new survey[i] of Canadians who had previously attended post-secondary school, conducted by Maru Public Opinion on behalf of TD, newly graduated Gen-Z respondents were significantly more likely (40%) to say they thought a lot about their long-term financial future when entering a post-secondary institution, compared to Millennials (18%) and Gen-X (11%).

“For many, today’s economic climate is particularly tough, especially for current students,” said Emily Ross, Vice President, Everyday Advice Journey at TD.

"However, despite current economic pressures, it's never too early for students to start thinking about proactive measures they can take to set themselves up for the future."

Ahead of the back-to-school grind, TD Stories caught up with three Toronto-based university students to chat all things money – and they got real as they shared everything from their financial goals to their current money-related stresses.

The transition from living at home with my parents to being a full-time student living in residence was tough, especially when it came to my finances. Until I started school, I didn't really understand how much my tuition and living expenses would cost.

I wish I'd started saving for school earlier – it would've been a good idea to start working and saving a lot sooner than I did. With tuition, rent, and now inflation impacting the cost of groceries, it's just become a lot.

Along with tuition and living expenses, I'm feeling pretty stressed about the housing market. It was so hard to find a place to rent within my budget for the current school year. My friends and I know we're facing a bit of a battle in the years ahead.

Right now, I don't feel great about my finances or the expenses that I have. It's going to be hard to cover some of those costs this year. But long-term, I feel like I've chosen a field and a career with a lot of potential.

I just keep telling myself this is short-term financial pain for long-term financial gain, and I hope I'm not wrong.

I used to work at a co-working space, and we would have different people come in and present on different topics. One month, the presentations were all focused on financial literacy – that's when I really started to take an interest in my own finances.

I think I'm okay as far as my finances go for right now. Of course, I know I could be spending less money than I currently am, especially since I have my eyes on grad school. I'd also like to start investing. I have a part-time job during the school year, and I work full-time during the summer. I have the money I need for everyday purchases, but at some point, I'll have to start thinking about the money I'll need for investments, and for my future.

The biggest question on my mind right now, when it comes to my finances, is about how I can improve my credit score. At some point, I want to be able to buy a car, or a condo of my own, but I'm not quite sure how to improve my credit score so that it could help me apply for loans for those larger purchases. I'm curious about what I can do to positively impact my credit score.

I didn't move away from home for university. Even though I was commuting every day instead of spending money on housing, my first year of university was a testament to how little I knew about the importance of saving. But it didn't take long for me to realize, as an example, that it's financially smarter for me to make a meal at home than it is to go out and blow $30 on lunch at a restaurant.

When it comes to money, I often think: How can I make more of it? That's followed closely by: How can I spend it more efficiently and how can I save for the bigger-priced items that I really want?

These days, I'm working at a restaurant, and I was part of the team that oversaw price increases on our menus. That was a wake-up call – seeing the inflation happen in real time. I'm more aware now about how inflation can have an impact on my day-to-day life. It's becoming harder and harder to pay for things – and that's the number one thing I think about, financially speaking.

Personal Finance 101

The students we spoke to had a lot of questions and were curious to learn more about different aspects of their finances, especially as they start thinking about post-grad life.

“To help make things more manageable for students, TD offers customers a range of resources like budgeting tools, and Personal Bankers in branch or over the phone, who can provide personalized advice," said Ross.

In particular, the students we spoke to were curious to learn more about three different areas of personal finance.

1. Budgeting

    There are many ways to budget, including the 50/30/20 rule. With this method, 50% of your money coming in covers needs (i.e., rent, groceries, transportation), 30% covers wants (i.e., dining out, hobbies, impulse purchases); and 20% goes to paying down debt or saving for the future.

    TD customers can also access tracking tools, like TD MySpend, the Student Budget Calculator and the TD Cashflow Calculator to help students budget.

    2. Building credit

      According to the survey, Gen-Z respondents were the least likely (12%) to say they are "very aware" of the benefits of building a strong credit score. However, one of the students we spoke to was curious about how to start building hers. If she has a credit card, she could start by using her credit card for small payments – and making sure to pay her bill on time, and if possible, in full, every month.

      3. Saving

        It's never too early to start saving for the future – especially if you have big plans, like graduate or professional school. Personal Bankers are also available in-branch to help students navigate their savings journey.

        [i]This Maru Public Opinion survey conducted from August 1 to August 2, 2023 on behalf of the TD Bank Group was undertaken by Maru/Blue from among 1,181 randomly selected adult Canadians who have attended a university, college or technical school (but not currently enrolled) and are Maru Voice Canada online panelists. The results of this study were weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to Canadian Census data to help ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.9%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals when compared to the data tables are due to rounding.

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