Sunday, March 7, 2010

Living Well on a Student Budget

What's free (or almost) in Ottawa.

Taking a crash course in financial reality – or so it seemed to Christina, a new student, living for the first time on her own. No more free meals, room and laundry service or car rides to school, sports and parties. She had to learn how to live on a small student budget. But a smart journalism student, she used her Internet search skills to find solutions for these financial challenges.

Save on Living
Christina had to furnish her apartment, so she typed in:,,, and and added “free” + “Ottawa”.

She found a bed frame, book shelves, lamps, an antique desk, three wicker chairs, several indoor plants and a mirror. Christina declined an offer for a free mattress and went instead to IKEA for a new one and to check out prices on cushions. She was lucky: Every Wednesday
IKEA offers huge savings on selected items and this time it was mattresses, exactly the needed size. Later she discovered the famous $1.00 IKEA breakfast.

Telephone, Banking, Transportation Savings
Christina opted for the free
Skype phone system using her computer. This way she could talk with friends and family who live abroad. To manage her finances she chose free online banking. Christina spared her money for a car and saves it instead towards a long overseas vacation and uses OCTranspo. At an OCTranspo unclaimed-items sale she found a bicycle for $10, helping her with grocery trips. Ordering software saved her almost $100 student rebate.
For her income tax-return she used free help of a Revenue Canada volunteer.

Nutritional Food Savings
Christina, a coffee lover, is smart and doesn’t fall into the fast-food /cafeteria coffee-trap easily accumulating to $500.00 /year. She makes her own coffee and brings a thermos to school. As bottled water is a real scam, she never buys it.
She compares the
grocery flyers to plan next week’s meals and find the best deals on produce, meat, fish or dairy products. If these specials are sold out, she asks for a "raincheck" to buy it later at the same favourable price. Nuts, cereals or peanut butter are purchased at Bulkbarn on Wednesdays (10% student-discount).
Volunteering at the
City's free Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter Dinners earns not only free meals but lots of delicious take-home food.

Entertainment Savings
Renting books, magazines, movies and music from the library: a non-brainer. But who knew that many
museums are free on Thursday afternoon, Saturday morning and generally on Canada Day?
Christina likes art and visiting gallery vernissages are often invitations for free wine & cheese. She also likes to attend concerts, ballet and theatre. Armed with a first-aid certificate, she got several volunteer jobs at theatres and concerts, enjoying lots of premieres for free.

What's more:
Free Canada Day Concerts
• Confederation Park: NCC organizes a free show as part of the Jazz Festival.
• June: admission-free introductions to
kayaking and canoeing.
• July/August: free evening Light & Sound shows at the Parliament.
• St.-Paul’s-University,
Carlton-University and Ottawa-University offer free international movies.

Just as Christina, every student can learn strategies to spend less and still live well. Discover the best bargains and have fun saving for a nice vacation, new car or to keep education debt down!


Free Rental Books, DVD’s, Magazines – plus many free seminars

Free Educational Material

Free Canoe/Kayak Introduction

Ottawa free events

Grocery Flyers

Coupons & Tips

Smart Students

Free Giveaways

Unclaimed Lost & Found Sale

Free Cinema