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November 20, 2012

How To Survive Poverty: A Student’s Pocketbook

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Written by: Sarah
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Ugg season is on its way and with it comes my battle to yet again face the reality that I’m a broke-ass student. It’s not that I don’t work hard, I’m in full time university and work two jobs to pay my way through school, but sometimes the fight to stay out of debt really just pisses me off.

If I were to work 20 hours a week (4 hours over the recommended time as per Health Canada/Education Quebec) I would make approximately $800.00 a month. While this is more than sufficient for someone living at home, it does not take into account my rent (450.00), hydro (50.00), phone/internet (100) or food (200). My basic expenses would only just be covered by my paychecks. There would be no room for calling in sick, no time that I could take off during exams, no place for any expenses such as school fees and books, or even hygiene products for that matter. I will work hard to be able to continue my education, but I’d like to be able to brush my teeth and own winter boots if you don’t mind!

Fortunately my emoticon keyboard allows me to express my emotions to my bank, but beer hasn’t yet become an acceptable form of payment in the eyes of VISA executives.

Fear not! There are still some tips on being frugal throughout the school season.


  • A simple Facebook status about what books I needed helped me find out who I knew who had taken the class and had the books for me to borrow.
  • Student Unions often have not-for-profit book exchanges (often far less expensive than the University’s used book section).
  • Speak with your professor during the intro, some teachers only use the books for practice questions or as supplementary to course material and you can photocopy applicable pages from the library for pennies on the dollar.


  • Student Unions are hopping on the healthy eating bandwagon. Concordia has a non-partisan vegan soup kitchen (the People’s Potato) serving more than 400 meals daily, all you need to bring is your tupperware!
  • Certain Provigo locations offer student days (normally Mondays) where the presentation of a student ID card gets you 10% off most things on your bill.


  • Throw a potluck! Most of my favorite nights are when my friend Karl has a bunch of us over, we all chip in a couple of dollars, BYOB, great food, great time and drunk Jenga.

  • Sign up for Groupon, LivingSocial and Teambuy. These have been my lifesavers with everything from water skiing to dinner for two at Onoir. You might get 1-2 emails from each a day, but you already waste enough time staring at a screen, might as well browse and make it work for you.

For all material needs, my suggestion of the week is to check out your local Zellers. Target has bought out the retail giant and is liquidating stores in preparation for rebranding.

Peace, Love & Happy Consumerism!

PS: Maybe you aren’t a student, but just unemployed. Then this is for you.


About the Author

A witty 21 year old Psychology student who is also studying Sexuality & Linguistics. Loves to write on how to deal with everyday life while being a broke university student and how messed up her love life always seems to be, not to mention her bizarre luck to have WTF moments every day of the week.



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  1. Ty

    LOL at paying bills with beer icons..

    I also love People’s Potatoes.. great accessible food for all!

    Thanks Sarah

  2. Melissa

    While not as awesome as People’s Potato, the Concordia Student Union also has a free lunch service for students who find themselves at Loyola/NDG area Monday-Friday from 12:30-1:30. It’s always vegetarian but not always vegan so be sure to ask questions if you’re not sure!

    • Ty

      Thanks awesome Melissa! I didn’t know that

    • Sarah

      I love that student unions are picking up on this! I think it’s the most efficient use of student funds possible! Even when I was at Dawson the DSU offered “Dawson Dining” which introduced me to the most delicious tacos of my life.

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