Navigating back to school expenses in Canada: Budgeting tips for newcomers

For immigrants and refugees to Canada, the back-to-school season holds a unique significance, as many new Canadians navigate learning the ins and outs of the Canadian financial system while managing the costs of tuition and textbooks. Budgeting is an important tool to help newcomers establish their financial foothold in their new country. The Windmill blog partnered with Prosper Canada to share budgeting tips to empower immigrants and refugees on their financial journey.

A Newcomer's Journey,Financial Planning,Settlement and Life in Canada

August 30, 2023

As the vibrant colours of fall start to paint the Canadian landscape, another season is also upon us: the back-to-school season.  

For immigrants and refugees to Canada, this time of year holds a unique significance. While children excitedly prepare for their academic journeys, many immigrants and refugees are navigating a different kind of education – one that involves budgeting and financial planning. As they embark on paths to accreditation, licensure, credential assessment, language improvement, professional development or skill enhancement, managing expenses associated with tuition fees, books and equipment becomes an essential aspect of their journey toward establishing themselves in their new country. 

The value of effective budgeting 

For new Canadians, the pursuit of education and professional development often comes hand in hand with various financial challenges, along with learning the ins and outs of the Canadian financial system. This is made all the more difficult in a time of rising inflation and high cost-of-living. From tuition fees required for upgrading credentials to the costs of essential textbooks or specialized equipment, these expenses can add up quickly. This is where the power of effective budgeting comes into play. Budgeting empowers newcomers to take control of their finances, plan for their educational investments, and ensure that they can confidently embrace their academic and professional aspirations. 

The Windmill Microlending blog reached out to partner, Prosper Canada, a national charity dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for Canadians living in poverty through program, policy innovation and financial empowerment. 


Windmill partner, Prosper Canada, offers budgeting tips to empower Canadians and help them manage their money and grow their savings. 

Canadian newcomers have a range of resources at their disposal to help them master the art of budgeting, including a number of free online modules offered by Prosper Canada, in English and French. With a strategic approach to financial planning, immigrants and refugees can not only tackle the immediate costs of education but also lay the foundation for a secure financial future in Canada. With back-to-school season upon us, let's delve into insightful strategies that newcomers can adopt to navigate their educational expenses while building a stable financial base in their new home.  

Prosper Canada says tracking your income and expenses is just another way to talk about budgeting. There are many ways to budget and there are lots of budgeting tips and tricks to reduce your expenses. Here are Prosper Canada’s top six budgeting tips during, what can be, a particularly cost-intensive time of year. 

  1. Values, wants, and needs – Figure out what is important for you to spend money on and determine your needs and wants.
  2. Set your goals – Write down or track on your smartphone, the money goals that you want to achieve, for example, paying for accreditation, education or training, a qualifying exam or saving for a longer-term goal.
  3. Income – Figure out the total income that you have available to spend in one month.
  4. Expenses – Figure out the total expenses you have in one month.
  5. Create your budget – Subtract your total expenses from your total income. Make a plan for your spending in future months based on your calculations.
  6. Check your budget often – Monitor and review your budget regularly and make adjustments when necessary.

Whether you're preparing for professional accreditation, looking to change careers or seeking to upgrade your skills, budgeting can help put you in a strong financial position to reach these goals and empower you to navigate the intricate landscape of back-to-school costs, as well as, strengthen your financial foothold in Canada. 

You can find more information from Prosper Canada about steps to build your budget, here

Are you an internationally-educated professional, living in Canada, who needs funds to pay for your Canadian accreditation, credential assessment, licensure, training, qualifying exams or professional development courses? Over 95% of eligible newcomers are approved for a Windmill Microlending loan of up to $15,000. No Canadian credit history required. Start your application today.

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