Get e-smart about student finances

Some students get a crash course in timely and effective money management when they start post-secondary school and have real-world expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries for the first time. According to a recent student finances poll, more than three-quarters of students wished they knew more about managing money when they started school, and some wish they had known that a budget is a useful way to keep control of spending.

Here are three ways students can get smart about managing their money by going digital.

1. Instant access: Sign up for online banking or download a mobile banking app to make banking and paying bills more convenient.

2. Make your smartphone your wallet: Need to pay back a friend who covered dinner last night? You can send money to anyone in Canada with an email address and access to online banking. Or use a mobile wallet to manage your money and gift cards.

3. Use free budgeting tools: There are great apps and online tools to help you out, like the RBC student budget calculator that can help you figure your costs for the school year. The myFinanceTracker included with RBC online banking can keep you on track of your budget by showing you where you are spending your money and how much you have available to put towards savings.

Find more money advice for students online at

How parents can have ‘the money talk’

It may seem like only yesterday that you dropped off your child at kindergarten. But even as they get older, students of any age still need and seek your guidance, both emotionally and financially. This is especially true as they navigate their first year as post-secondary students and test their newly found independence.

According to a recent student finances poll, more than one-third of first-year students agree that “it’s a good idea to talk to parents about money and budgeting” and that “it’s ok to tell parents about things that don’t work out.” This research shows that first-year students are particularly worried about not being able to pay back debt, overspending, and disappointing their parents.

“Open and ongoing two-way communication that covers a range of financial topics should be at the heart of your game plan with your child and their post-secondary education,” suggests Laura Plant, director of student banking at RBC.

Almost half of first-year students say they talk to their parents at least once a month. Use this opportunity to foster your child’s growing financial independence by talking about the following top concerns:

Budgeting. Ask if they’re tracking their plan and if they are surprised by the cost of extracurricular activities or textbooks.
Credit card use. Find out if they know how to pay their cards online, what types of expenses should be charged, and how to stay on top of monthly payments.
Cash flow. Explore other sources of income such as scholarships and seasonal job opportunities.
The future. Discuss what’s worrying your student about graduation and plans for next year and beyond.

Find more resources for parents of post-secondary students at