Planning Your Finances

Planning your finances carefully will help your College experience go smoothly. Failing to follow a realistic financial plan is one of the biggest challenges international students face.

Keep track of your student account

An overdue account can prevent you from registering for courses, receiving documentation from the College, or graduating from your program.

Check your student account on the HUB, and check out our Payment Information page for deadlines and payment options.

Cost of living

Manitoba has one of the lowest costs of living in North America, resulting in a high standard of living. In Winnipeg, some typical day to day costs, shown in Canadian dollars (2019), include:

Rent: $500 (single room) / $1000 (studio apartment) / $1500 (2-bedroom apartment) / $3000 (house)
Transit Pass (student): $83.20
Groceries: $200-$250/person 

Sales Tax

The Government of Canada has a goods and services tax (GST). Five percent (5%) GST is charged on most goods and services. Additionally, in Manitoba, a seven per cent (7%) provincial sales tax (PST) is applied to most goods and services. They are added to the item price. This means you may pay an extra twelve percent (12%) plus the advertised price.

Creating a Budget

1. Determine your expenses

Think of all your possible expenses, and how often you will need them. Do your research, make a list, and plan ahead.

  • Term – Tuition, Textbooks, health insurance.
  • Monthly – Household expenses, personal care, recreation, memberships.
  • Daily – Transportation, food.
  • Occasional – Computer, Furniture, moving, rent deposit, vehicle repairs, Car insurance, study permits/visa renewals.

2. Identify all your sources of income

List all your possible sources of income.

  • Job
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Family contributions
  • Gifts
  • Awards
  • Stipends

3. Choose your budgeting tool

  • Excel – If you like working with figures on spreadsheets, Microsoft Excel has many sample budgets. In addition, this feature is included in your student Microsoft Office 365 HUB account.
  • Budgeting app – If you enjoy using scheduling apps, consider downloading a budgeting app that provides alerts and can help you manage your budget.
  • Paper – If you prefer writing things down, a small pocketbook is a handy way to track your expenses.
  • Financial institutions – Get familiar with the local banks and credit unions. While setting up your account, explore the budgeting tools they offer.
  • Government – Explore some budgeting resources and guidelines provided by the Canadian government.

4. Build your budget

Below is an outline of a sample budget with some specific student costs. Use the budget tool you selected at Step 1 and create your own budget.

If you are bringing additional family members, you will need to include those additional expenses per person.

5. Update your budget

Be consistent with updating your budget. Spending patterns and circumstances change over time. Choose a time each month to review your spending habits.

Did you know?

  • Thrifting is a big part of the culture in Winnipeg. Save money by buying used items.
  • If you cannot afford food supplies, check out your local food bank, or contact the Red River College Polytechnic Students’ Association.
  • Working 20 hours per week is not reasonable for most international students studying full-time. Many students who work too many hours find their grades declining. Failing a course may be more costly in the long run.
  • Using a local credit card can help you build a credit history. Talk with your banker to find out more.
  • If you save your receipts, or use a debit or credit card, use them to compare your actual versus budgeted expenses and make adjustments if necessary.
  • Government-funded student aid is not a funding option for international students. Plan well to cover your expenses.


  • Visit the housing guide to review and calculate what your possible housing expenses could be.
  • Check out the financial awards and create a list of the ones applicable to you. However, do not expect to cover a large portion of your expenses this way. Typically scholarships are awarded in amounts between $100-$1500.
  • Remember to add those dates to your calendar.
  • Familiarize yourself with local sales to save on expenses.
  • Your bank may offer you a credit card. Ask for some tips on how to manage it, and ensure you pay your balance on time to build good credit.
  • Learn what receipts you need to store to file your taxes.
  • Put some money aside for emergency funds that can cover and unexpected expense such as an increase in a utility bill and remember to replenish it whenever used.

Useful Resources