What You’ll Hear While Job Hunting

Well Sunshine, my job hunt continues. Yes, I still have my part-time job, but that is TOTALLY not paying the bills. This week, I was scheduled for a grand total of ZERO hours. Next week, I’m lucky enough to get 8 hours. And the following week….. it’s back down to zero. Pretty sad, eh? If it wasn’t for my tax return, I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent and bills this month, and that scares me. I’ve been trying so had to pick up shifts, or find something a little more….. well, career-like.

But, that’s the way things go for me right now. And boy, do people have opinions on all of that!  Out of curiosity, I asked a question on Facebook the other day: if you could picture me in any job, any career, any profession, what would it be?

Of course, there were a few joke answers on there (otherwise, I would SO totally be a new Spice Girl), and a few “do X, so I can live vicariously through you” replies. Nothing earth shattering, nothing really out of the ordinary. Until, I called my mother.

Holy jumping jackrabbit turds, was she pissed at the answers I got!

“A Spice Girl? How the hell is that supposed to help you? And a hard-hitting journalist? You’re too old to start getting into something like that! What the hell is wrong with people?!?!?!”

These people were just offering suggestions. And to be honest, the journalist one really intrigued me. Coming out of high school, I had wanted to go to journalism school and travel the world writing about conflict and social justice issues.

But, everyone has an opinion on what you should be doing during your job hunt. And, at least to them, everyone’s opinion is right. You’ll hear the same things over and over again, just phrased differently.

“Well if you’re looking for a job, I hear McDonald’s/Burger King/7-11 is hiring. Go there if you’re desperate.”

You know what? I have. And you know what else? I didn’t get the job there. There are enough people who are students, or who have been working these jobs since high school and have years of experience, or who have certain qualifications that I don’t have that are applying for these jobs, that most of our resumes won’t even get a second glance.

And some people just don’t get that. They think that, because you are willing to work, you can just walk out your front door and find any job. Must be nice living in their strange little realities, eh?

“What the hell are you applying at McDonald’s/Burger King/7-11 for? Didn’t you just spend all those years in school getting a damn degree?”

Oddly, I find it’s the same damn people asking the first question that ask this one too. Admit it, if you went into post secondary schooling at any level, you had a small army of people (family members, guidance counsellors, TV personalities, teachers………) telling you that you needed to keep going to school, or else you would wind up working at some sort of “McJob”.

Well, we all went to school like they said. And you know what? A whole damn lot of us STILL need to get these McJobs just to pay the bills. Yes, we have degrees, diplomas, certificates, and hours of training in various things. But you can’t just show your landlord your degree and expect them to let you live there for free. We need money to pay bills, and jobs to make money.

Still, there are people out there who think that, because you went to school, you shouldn’t NEED to work one of these jobs that they look down on. You have an education!  You’re above that!

Except we’re not. There are a lot of us who will wind up in these jobs, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

“So you didn’t apply at McDonald’s/Burger King/7-11? What, you think you’re too good for a job in a place like that?”

This is something I’ve heard at least a hundred times now. Personally, there are some jobs that I will not apply for. It’s not because I think I’m above them, or I’m too good for them, or that they’re shit jobs. There are certain jobs I don’t apply for because I know I would be shitty at them.

I know for a fact that I make a horrible janitor. I worked as one a few summers ago, and was let go after only four shifts. I can mop floors, and sweep, and wash windows just find. But I was dealing with puke, and moldy food, and an allergic reaction to a cleaning chemical. I was probably just the worst person anyone could ever hire for that job. So now I know not ti apply for janitorial jobs at all.

You know yourself, there are some jobs that you know you just can’t do well. Some people can’t work an assembly line job, or an office job, or a groundskeeping job. If you know you’ll be shitty at it, and most likely get fired for not being able to do your job, then why apply?  Taking the time to apply for that job just takes away time from aply for jobs you’d actually be good at.

“You know, it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know!”

That’s great. Well, I know you. What are you doing to help me find a job?

In the last few weeks, I have had this stupid phrase uttered to me dozens of times, by dozens of well-meaning people. How many of them have actually tried to help me so far? One. Just one. She’s my boyfriend’s mom, and I’ve never even met her in person. But she asked some friends and family in the area, and found somewhere that may be hiring soon, told me who to ask for there, and told them a bit about me. The other 20+ people who have said this to me have done NOTHING to help, even when I asked.

And I know what some of you are thinking: well it’s not their job to find a job for you. And you’re right, it’s not. But if someone is going to say something like this, then they should be willing to help you in some way. I myself do not have a lot of networking contacts locally that I can put friends in touch with. But I have gone to enough resume and cover letter workshops, read resume books, and attended mock interviewss to be of some sort of help to people.

“Any luck with the job hunt?”

Again, I know some people are just trying to be nice and make pleasant conversation. But if I did have any luck lately, would I still be job hunting?

“Back in my day……….”

These are the worst. Honestly, if one of your older relatives starts his or her advice with “back in my day” or “when I was young”, just start singing songs in your head and nod your head from time to time so they think you’re listening. Then, when they finally zip their damn yappers, just say something like, “I’ll keep that in mind, thanks for the advice”.

You see, back in the day here, you could finish high school and just walk into one of the car plants or the shops that supply the plants, and get a job. I have quite a few relatives and family friends who did just that. If that wasn’t your thing, then you went out for a few days with some resumes, passed them out to a few dozen places, and waited for them to call you.

Nowadays, to even be considered for the car plant here as a Temporary Part-Time worker, you have to be a full time college or university student. And even then, there are dozens of rules about how many hours you can work, and you get cut off after a certain age. The same opportunities aren’t around. Most places won’t even look at a paper resume: you have to apply through email or their website. Job hunting is at least 80% online now. Even the local newspaper here isn’t much help. I can remember when I fininshed high school, and you could just walk through the mall looking for “Help Wanted” signs, or check the classified section of the newspaper. Now the classifed section is maybe 8 ads on a good day, and you have to go through the mall’s website, which takes you to the websites for stores that are hiring, and apply through there.

Pounding the pavement to get a job just isn’t done anymore. But you’ll still hear older people tell you to “just get out there, pound the pavement, put your resume out there.” Of course, these are the same people who type with 4 fingers and call to ask you how use The Googles.

“Well why don’t you just go back to school. Take something practical.”

I wish it were that easy! With my degree and experience, I would love to be able to afford to go back to college, maybe get into the Paralegal program. But the almost $60,000 in student loan debt I have is kinda stopping me.

Retraining and getting more schooling is damn expensive these days. You used to be able to work part-time all year and afford to pay off your tuition. These days, unless you’re lucky and either have a damn good job already or get a metric butload of scholarships, you can forget about that. Tuition is so damn expensive, it’s out of reach for a lot of people. And even if you can afford to go back, what do you take? The job markets are so saturated these days, you need experience more than education to break into pretty much anything.

 

 

Basically, everyone has a damn opinion on why you haven’t found a job yet, and they’re all experts in giving job hunting advice. At least, they all think so. You are going to hear the same crap over and over and over, no matter how little any of it helps you.

Don’t let it get you down though, Sunshine. These people, for the most part, mean well. They honestly think they are helping you. Try not to focus too much on them. Nod your head, thank them for their advice, and you do what you need to do to get yourself out there. Focus on the people who are actually helpful, the ones who give you a little hope that there is a job out there just waiting for you to apply. These are the people, the diamonds in the rough, that will be there when your nerves are shot, you just want to curl up in a ball and cry, and you feel like the world’s biggest failure. These are the people who will cheer you up, hug you, let you vent, help you figure out your next step, and will never once say, “You know, when I was a lad we pounded the pavement for days looking for work” when you’ve been looking for a real job for months. These are the people to keep close.

Happy hunting Sunshine!

 

Job Search Frustrations

My hours at work have been…… well…. pathetic. I was lucky to get called in for an extra shift this week, bringing my total hours for the week up to 9. Yes, you read that right, NINE whole hours this week. My paychecks are so tiny, I’ve had to dip into my meager savings just to pay rent. So, once again, I’m looking for a job.

Now, a little background for my newer readers: I’m actually an adult woman (in my 30s), with a lot of education. So far I have a BA(H) in Criminology, and am doing the paperwork to try and get my BA in Psychology. I have a Certificate of Office Administration, certification in Microsoft Word and Excel, and a bunch of job experience. I’ve worked offices, research labs, volunteer office work, and customer service. I’m polite, cheerful, professional, and can create the most complex organizational schematics you could ever need to keep all of your responsibilities in check. I don’t miss deadlines, I don’t mess around on company time, and I don’t slack off when stuff needs to be done.

And I just keep getting shit on.

Looking for a job today ain’t like it was for your folks, Sunshine. In this town, when my parents were in high school, you didn’t even need to finish high school to get into the local car plant. Most people just assumed they’d leave or finish school, and just get a job in one of the plants. Today, IF you’re lucky and IF they have enough Temp Part-Time positions available, you MAY get in part-time but ONLY if you’re a college or university student in good standing, taking full-time classes. And even then, you’re not guaranteed to be kept on the whole time you’re in school. There is actually an age limit on how old you can be in this program. So if you don’t jump right into schooling right out of high school and land one of these jobs, you’re screwed.

Back in those days, you put on your nice shoes and “pounded the pavement” to get your resume out there.

“Well, all you need is to get yourself out there! Go inside, introduce yourself. Hand in your resume in person. Get out from behind the computer and make yourself known!”

Any idea how sick to death I am of hearing that?

Where I work my VERY part-time job, we don’t take paper resumes. Like, at all. It doesn’t matter how nice you are, or how presentable you are, or how badly you need a job. Everything is done online now. You go to our website, follow the links, fill out some forms, and submit a resume. The only way you EVER get to see anyone face to face is, after all that, you get called in for an interview.

And we’re not the only ones who do that. EVERYONE is like that now.

“Get out from behind that computer! Go introduce yourself!”

Or why don’t you do something a little more helpful, Kind Elderly Relative, like getting me a job, or shutting the hell up?

I’d say that around 80% of my actual job search is online these days. I have a bunch of sites bookmarked that I check at least once a day for new postings: job search sites, company websites, government websites, temp agencies……..

“Don’t just check the agency’s site. Just go sign up with them. They’ll get you a job right away!”

Really? Because I’ve been signed up with FIVE agencies for a little more than a year now. One got me a six week gig a little over a year ago, and not one has found anything for me since then.

“Well then, maybe you just need a little more training. Go take some classes, upgrade your skills.”

What a great idea!  I’m just going to go out to the Education Tree and pull some of that free knowledge down for myself! Honestly, even using free websites like Coursera, you can’t get all the training you need without shelling out some serious cash. And all that education I already have? Well honey, it sure as hell wasn’t free.

Still, I’ve gone out for more training. I’ve signed up with government agencies that help the unemployed, I’ve taken their classes. I’ve gone to resume workshops, typing classes, Microsoft upgrading seminars, mock interviews……. I’ve done it all! And now, I can type up one hell of a resume that no one will read, and practice for all the interviews I won’t get!

“Maybe if you’d stop sitting around at your computer, complaining and being lazy, you’d have a job by now.”

My job search is not a fun hobby. NO ONE’S job search is fun! On top of my part-time job, I put in anywhere from 20-50 hours a week just in my job search. That’s time spent looking through websites, personalizing cover letters, writing emails, and tailoring my resume to positions. I go to job fairs, networking events, and free classes and seminars at local schools. I do online free courses in things like Conflict Resolution and Basic Accounting to fill in holes in my training. I am NOT sitting behind a desk, marathoning Netflix and eating Cheesies while I whine about being broke.

And neither are the majority of people out there in my same position.

Yes, we all have our times when it just overwhelms us and we need a break. There are days, or even weeks, where there’s just no new postings out there to apply to. There are the weeks you get 7 interviews, and are driving or bussing all over town. Then there are the weeks where you’d give anything just to hear the phone ring.

My darling Sunshines, you are not alone in this search. I know it seems like everyone out there has a job, and advice, and opinions, and they all want to help, even if that “helping” just makes things worse. I know what it’s like to have no one around who really understands what it’s like to spend 9 hours typing cover letters and researching positions, just to have people look at you like you’ve done nothing all day. I know the loneliness, the despair, the feeling like there must be something wrong with you because no one out there seems to want you.

So just know that you’re not alone in all of this. I’m here, and there are plenty more of us out there too. Just keep on shining, and someday maybe we can all blog about how great things are for us, and how these tough times made it all possible.

Job Search Journalling and Tracking Applications

So I didn’t know this when I started job hunting after I finished my degree. I just got a resume and cover letter together, started applying places, and waited for them to contact me. Sometimes, if they got back to me quickly, I’d remember details about the job ad that I had read, or the basic qualifications for the job. Usually, though, I’d draw a complete blank on the job and what it entailed. Sometimes, when I got the callback, I would only be given a company name and not the position I would be interviewing for. Now how the hell do you prepare for an interview if you don’t know what job you’re interviewing for?

After a few interviews, I went to a place downtown that helps people find jobs in the community. The first thing they asked me was if I was keeping a Search Journal. Pretty sure my answer was something along the lines of “what the crap is that crap?” Well, it turns out that crap is the crap that makes this whole job search thing a little bit easier, but also a whole lot harder. The best part of this is there is no right or wrong way to go about doing this crap. Basically, you need to find a way to keep track of all the essential crap in your job search.

So what exactly is essential?

First, you’ll need to track where you’re applying to, and to whom. Make note of whether you applied by email, website form, or in person, and who you applied to (an actual person, a web form, a general email address, etc.). If you applied to an actual person, try and get their title or position within the company too.

Next, you’ll want to keep a copy of the job ad itself if you can. I’ve seen ads that are only a few lines long, with no real information about the position. If that’s the case, then just make a note of that. Most of the ads I’ve seen, however, have been these long detailed things going on about specific qualifications needed, a description of the job itself, and sometimes even a little bit about the company. These ads are job search gold, I’ll tell you! And it’s unbelievably important that you keep track of these ads, so you know what you’re getting into if you get a call-back.

Finally, you should keep a copy of the resume and cover letter you sent in for that job. Why? Because you’re supposed to be tailoring these to each job you apply to, emphasizing different skills and qualifications you have, and showcasing why you are the absolute ideal candidate for the job. And if you’re going to get called in for an interview, then you REALLY need to know what the hell you told them about yourself!   There’s nothing worse than going into an interview and having to answer 37 questions about your Microsoft and public speaking experience (because you made sure to emphasize these things on your application), only to completely blank on your answers because you forgot what you emphasized. Believe me, it’s happened a few times to me.

I have experience in a lot of different things (writing, editing, research, volunteer coordination), have different educational attributes I can emphasize (Criminology degree, Psychology degree, Office Administration certificate, Microsoft Word and Excel certificates), and held down multiple on-campus jobs while volunteering for multiple organizations on campus for 5 years. There is no way I can talk about all of that each and every application, and there’s no way that I should either. For office jobs, I would usually emphasize my office skills. Jobs on campus meant I would play up how well I worked with different departments in different ways. Some jobs valued education over experience, or vice versa. I have gone into interviews forgetting that my cover letter for that application talked about my experience with coordinating volunteers with one specific organization, only to have almost the entire interview be about that very specific experience. And do you know what happened next? I didn’t get the job, because I wasn’t prepared!

So how you go about doing this is completely up to you. For a short time, I attended a support group for people who were having trouble finding a job. I don’t think any of us went about this in the same way. One woman printed everything out and put it in an accordion folder, alphabetically by company name. Another kept a notebook where she would write everything down as she applied to job. I decided to make my life as difficult as possible, and came up with some crazy combination of Microsoft Word and Excel, a folder full of folders on my computer, and a notebook. No one else could figure it out just by looking at it, but it was what worked best for me.

So in the end, you really need to start keeping track of all this crap! This crap is important crap, crap that needs to be tracked. Track your crap in whatever crap tracking way works best for you. And good luck out there, sunshine!

The Negative Side of Temporary Employment

I know you’re reading this on Monday, but I’m writing it on Friday. I just don’t want to think about not being in this place first thing Monday when I hop on WordPress. I’ll try to keep myself busy until my night job shift, but it’s going to be weird.

You see, one of the biggest downsides of temporary employment is that…..well……. it’s temporary. No matter how much you absolutely love a place, or an office, or a group of co-workers, none of that is yours. It all belongs to someone else, and you’re just keeping their chair warm. Sure, once you’re placement is done you can start sleeping in again, and sitting around in your jammies. And the amount of laundry you’ll have to do will shrink like crazy, since you never have to put on real pants right now.

But there’s also a whole lot of negative sides to this temporary employment thing, besides the fact that you have to leave in the end.

-you have no security. The office I’m in is unionized. I’m not part of the union, since I’m a temp. This means lower wages, no benefits, no sick days, and definitely no job security. If the person who usually works here wanted to come back 3 weeks early, then I would have been out of a job 3 weeks sooner, no notice given. You’re just a disposable employee when you’re a temp. Some people won’t even bother to learn your name.

-nothing is yours. Your office, your desk, your chair…… they’re all someone else’s. You can’t decorate, or get a comfy chair, or move the computer to where it’s easiest for you to use. If there is something in that office (a filing cabinet, computer files everywhere, electronic chords running all over the floor) that drives you nuts, and that you know you could greatly improve, you can’t. You can’t change a damn thing.

-you’re not always going to get the best job instructions. I was lucky this time: I had a 3 page document waiting for me on the computer keyboard, outlining the most important things I needed to know. I’ve talked to people who were given nothing close to this. Some I’ve talked to were basically shown to their chair and told to start pulling up files, entering data, and were never even introduced to their co-workers.

-the pay isn’t the greatest. I’m lucky to make a few bucks over minimum wage here. The other office staff here make quite a bit more than me, though. Plus benefits, sick days, vacation time, and other perks. I’m doing most of the job of the person who is usually here, for half the price. Knowing that starts to make you feel used at times.

-you have to leave. I know I already said this, but it really sucks. As of today (when you’re reading this, not when I’m writing this), I will have no steady income, no way to pay my bills, and no clue when I will get an assignment again.

So, if I disappear for a week or so, it’s just the anxiety kicking in. One of the major triggers for me is my finances, so the next little while is going to be pretty rough.

The Positive Side of Temporary Employment

So, I have been working at my old University for the past month and a half as a temporary secretary. Most of the other office staff I’ve talked to here have said that this is how they got their positions here, many years ago. In fact, it’s damn near impossible to get a job here without some sort of “in” like this.

Which brings me to today’s topic. Sometimes, temporary employment is the best thing you can go for. I really wish I had realized this sooner, too. Many, many people tried to talk me out of going to a temp agency when I said I was looking for a job. To them, a temp job was 2 week placement somewhere to cover a vacation leave, or to fill a spot while the company tries to restructure their office. While there are some negatives to this sort of employment (which I’ll get to for Monday’s post), there is a whole host of positive things to consider when thinking about going to a temp agency.

-you’ll get a chance to use you skills and keep them current. Sitting at home, emailing out your resume to companies every day isn’t doing much to keep you on your toes when it comes to Excel, or even more advanced Word functions. Getting thrown into a strange office and being told to keep up with their paperwork really puts you to the test, though. It gives you a chance to polish any rusty skills, and possibly learn (or re-learn) new ones. I totally forgot that I know how to not only create flyers in Word, but can make them look pretty damn professional AND turn them into PDFs!

-you get to try out positions without commitment. You may think you want to get into a certain career, or even a certain company. But you won’t know for sure until you actually do it. What if, in the course of your temp placement, you discover that you would rather shove rusty nails in your ears and hit them repeatedly against a cement wall than have to sit in a room for 8 hours with your co-workers? As a temp worker, you only have a short time with those people, and can run far, far away when your placement is over.

-networking!!!!! In my position here, I’m in a department I hadn’t been to much before, and only knew two professors in. As such, I’ve had to meet and get to know a whole department full of professors, graduate students, and support staff. I’ve also been able to make myself visible on campus again, connecting with people from my old departments, the IT staff (who must hate me now, thanks to this damn copier here!), HR, and a whole mess of other support staff on campus. Now, when my resume is brought up again for any temp or permanent position, they all have a face to go with the name AND have no shortage of people to talk to who know me.

-this got me out of my pyjamas and out of the house. After job hunting for so long, things start to look a little dark. I’m not going to lie, there are some days when I didn’t bother putting on real pants, and just sat around in jammies all day, skimming job search sites. With this position, I am forced to get up and out of bed every weekday AND put on my grown-up clothes!

Sadly, today is my last day here with this assignment. The regular secretary will be back in her office on Monday. This means my afternoon will be spent making sure I leave her space exactly the way it was when I got here in February.

Hopefully, though, I’ll be back working on this campus again soon!

Basics of the Budget

The first few weeks of school are pretty damn exciting. There’s welcoming events, moving, meeting new people, new classes, and, for a growing number of students these days, a giant student loan deposit in the bank. For many students, that lump sum payment is more money than they’ve ever had at one time.

Having that much money all at once can be a little overwhelming for some. Seeing that there are possibly thousands of dollars in your account can feel like you will never run out of money this semester. Once tuition is paid for the term, everything that’s left seems like fun money. Suddenly you can eat out, hit the bars, shop, and do all the things real grown ups like to do.

Except, you can’t.

You see, once that money is gone, IT’S GONE. Unless you have another source of income, you have to make that money last you. Hell, even if you DO have another source of income, you can’t run around blowing money on every little whim. You have to make (and stick to) a budget.

I know, that’s such an evil little word. “Budget” means “I have money, and I want to spend money, but I’m not allowed to spend money, so life just freakin sucks”. It also means, though, “I can afford to keep my bills paid off every month, have a bit of money to play with, don’t have to live in fear of eviction or not having money to spend on food, AND I get to practice this whole ‘being a grown up’ thing a little more”.

Before we get into how to make one loan payment stretch a whole semester, let’s go over the very basics of what a budget is, and how you can make one of your own.

1) Figure out how much it costs you to live every month.

Do you have to pay rent the first of the month? What about utilities (heat, electricity, water)? Internet? Phone? Look at every single thing you have to pay for every month. This isn’t just your living expenses, either. If you have a car, then you need to include any bills for that. If you have a balance on your credit cards, then payments need to be included too. Basically, any bill you have that needs to be paid off every month needs to be included.

The easiest way to do this is to just make a list. On one side of the page, list out all these expenses. On the other side, put how much they cost. Do you have something, like a cell phone or internet bill, that is a little different each month? Err on the side of caution, and write down what a more expensive month would cost you. Now, add everything up and…. voila! You have your basic bills!

2) How much money do you actually have?

Take into consideration every single way you get your money, whether it’s student loans, a part-time job, or an allowance from your parents. If it’s money coming in, then keep track of it! Again, just make a list of everything and add it all up. Do you have enough to even cover the costs of your basic bills?  If not, go right to step #6. If you do, then just read on.

3) What’s left for everything else?

I know, you want to take everything that’s left and go have some fun with it. And you can…….. possibly, in moderation. First, you need to figure out what you’ll need to spend on food every month.  Don’t kid yourself and say, “I can live on $5 a day” or “I can eat nothing but ramen all term”. Go to a real grocery store, look at the food. Figure out what you need, and budget for it.

Once you have food covered, then you can look at spending some on a little fun. Just don’t spend it all at once.  While it might feel great to go out one night and buy drinks for all your friends, that could cost you your whole month’s budget, leaving you stuck at home the rest of the month while everyone else is out having fun. Wouldn’t it feel better to just have a drink or two, and then save the rest for………. more nights out? Or a bit of shopping? Maybe you have a latte addiction you want to spend it on, or like to take cabs everywhere. You need to account for, and prepare for, all of this in your budget.

4) Where can you cut your costs?

Buying a coffee (or seven) every day can get pretty damn expensive. Same goes for taking cabs, eating out, using vending machines, and dozens of other things we tend to do every day. If you find yourself guzzling coffee, invest in a coffee pot and a few good (and large) travel mugs. If you cab it everywhere, grab a copy of the local public transit schedules to keep with you. All of these little things can start to add up and really eat away at your budget.  You need to find a way to cut back on these expenses, without totally depriving yourself (but that’s a topic for a whole other posting).

5) No matter your age, but a little something aside and try to be prepared.

You don’t have to open an RRSP and make big monthly contributions right now, but you should be saving something. Many students think that just because they’re not saving for retirement right now, they don’t have to save for anything. Well, that’s just damn wrong.

Do you want to buy Christmas gifts? What about big expenses, like clothes for a formal event or wedding? Will you be needing to get plane, train, or bus tickets once a semester? These are all things you need to plan for now. Saving part of the cost each and every month makes it easier to handle than letting it eat up a huge chunk of your budget one month.

Also, it is always a great idea to stash some money away for emergencies. Pretty much all the experts agree that you should have at least 6 months living expenses stashed away, in case your cash flow stops coming in for whatever reason. I know that seems like a lot, so just start small.  But a little aside at a time. Throw your change in a piggy bank. Have a portion of your pay check put directly into your savings. You can build up this emergency fund bit by bit now so that, when you need it most, it’s there for you.

6) Don’t have enough money to pull all this off? 

Well unless you find a way to cover all your costs, you are pretty much screwed.  There is no way to sugar coat this: you need to get off your ass, stop reading this blog, and go find more money NOW. Apply for scholarships, bursaries, grants, anything you may qualify for.  Start applying for jobs. Get (more) financial aid. Ask family members for help. Believe me, the LAST thing you want to do is start making up the difference with credit cards! At first, you think “Well it’s just a few hundred dollars, and I can’t just NOT buy groceries, so I’ll pay it off when I get more money”. The next thing you know, you’re getting ready to graduate, and have thousands in credit card debt ON TOP OF your school debt.

It’s not going to be easy, but there are ways you can get more money each month. Talk to a financial counsellor (if your school provides them), or someone you know who is great with money. There are also a lot of great resources out there (Gail Vaz Oxlaid, The Wealthy Barber, bank websites) that can give you more ideas and help than I ever could.

So that’s it: your basic budgetting. Now that you have it on paper, try to stick with it. I admit, it won’t always be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.