School of hard-knocks: A Q&A with Manjit Minhas

Sarah Jane Silva

Manjit Minhas

CBC’s Dragons’ Den judge shares her insights on some common financial pitfalls
and how students can avoid them

From a very young age beer baroness Manjit Minhas was taught how to handle money and about the consequences of not saving.

Sure she would get an allowance from her parents but not without justifying every dollar that she spent.

“I feel because of that experience I became really frugal,” she said during a recent phone interview from Calgary, Alberta where she was born and raised, and currently resides with her husband and two young daughters.

When you’re in university and on your own, you may still be learning to navigate the world of personal finance.

“It’s important to know the value of money and how it can help you,” added Minhas.

Below are some common financial mistakes that many students make, and her tips on how to avoid them.

The worst thing you can do is get a credit card.

I think that credit card companies should be absolutely banned from campuses because credit cards are like candy to students. It’s too easy not to have any sense of the bill at the end of the month. Credit cards are a deadly trap that can really add up fast without you realizing it.

Everything should be budgeted.

Entertainment, clothing, food travel – come up with a realistic budget and stick to it. You do have to plan ahead, but it’s a good learning tool for the rest of your life. When you have a family, a house and more bills it only gets more complicated.

Plan for how you will pay back your student loan after you graduate.

Make sure it’s not something that is looming over you as you get older and start a family. Sometimes people owe student loans for too long and it ends up costing a lot more by the time you add up all the interest. Student loans are inevitable so you have to have a plan on how to handle them.

Find out about scholarships and grants.

Instead of borrowing money through loans, consider applying for grants and scholarships. Grants and scholarships do not require you to pay them back, meaning more financial freedom.  It’s just a matter of looking into it and being informed of what’s available out there.

Personal finance courses should be mandatory.

I think it’s fabulous that UTM’s Department of Management will be offering a new personal finance course next fall. I think it’s great and so needed. Honestly, I wish that money management could be taught as early as grade school because by the time you get to university, you’re already set in your ways in terms of spending and saving.

To learn how Manjit used her financial skills and business acumen to create and grow a successful startup and thrive as an entrepreneur, join us at Countdown to Success on Thursday, November 24.