A McGill Student’s Transaction History

Graphic courtesy of Melle Dumas

Being a student is synonymous with living on an always-dwindling budget.

In my first two months at McGill, I made the mistake of refusing to look at my debit card balance for prolonged periods of time, only to be met with single digits and sometimes tears when I finally logged back into my bank account. My natural instinct was to scapegoat the high costs of textbooks and other academic materials. Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that the money I spent on a textbook during the first week of class was roughly equivalent to—or less than—the amount I spent on fast food, club cover charges, and random stuff I bought on Amazon over the course of that same week.

I’ve discovered that a McGill student’s transaction history tells more about what it’s truly like to go to Canada’s premier university than any admissions Q&A or campus tour.

My transaction history is a mess, to say the least. Still, I find comfort in the belief that my bank records likely resemble those of many other McGill students who also enjoy Uber Eats and have a hard time saying no to a night out. I’ve discovered that a McGill student’s transaction history tells more about what it’s truly like to go to Canada’s premier university than any admissions Q&A or campus tour.

So, for informational purposes, here is a rough sketch of what the transaction history of a typical McGill student (a.k.a., me) is actually comprised of.

3% – Textbooks and other school supplies. This measly 3% is keeping you somewhat afloat in your classes, yet you will never stop complaining about how straining it is on your bank account. If your parents do not regularly look at your bank records, this percentage is likely regularly exaggerated.

5% – Food with actual nutritional value. Probably just from that one day you decided to treat your body well and buy a bag of baby carrots from Metro. Also regularly exaggerated to parents.

6% – Juul pods.

10% – Useless stuff bought on Amazon. This includes the halloween costumes you will never wear again, a tapestry to hang on the wall of your apartment, or that blender you bought so you could make smoothies and be healthy but that has since remained untouched.

14% – Winter clothes. Because you got here and realized your little puffy jacket that did fine in West Coast winters isn’t enough to survive the dropping temperatures.

15% – Alcohol, typically for pregaming (or, in Canada, pre-ing). This is just the start of your bank balance’s fall from grace. Whether it be $1 beers from BdA, a cheap bottle of wine from the dep, or the overpriced Tequila you treated yourself to at the SAQ, the costs of a good time add up. The justification for these purchases is that you’ll save money by skipping out on bar drinks, but we all know your drunk self will gladly dish out the money for watered-down shots too.

17% – Cover charges and other club fees. Especially if you’re a freshman like me, it is near impossible to say no to Café Campus Tuesday. You may have hated it the last three weeks you went, but there’s always a part of you that hopes this week will be better, and that you’ll be offered a drink by someone other than a random CEGEP kid. Is it worth the cover charge, coat check, and aforementioned series of shots you’ll inevitably buy at the bar? Probably not, but it’s all part of the ~McGill Experience~.

30% – Nutritionally valueless foods, probably bought late at night while intoxicated or after a few hours at McLennan attempting to study. Think Chef on Call, Pita Pit, or $2 Chow Mein. Although some of these options may be less expensive than others, the pure magnitude of drunk/stress food in any given week takes up a significant portion of a your transaction history.

Is it worth the cover charge, coat check, and aforementioned series of shots you’ll inevitably buy at the bar? Probably not, but it’s all part of the ~McGill Experience~.

It’s time for McGill students to finally face the facts and acknowledge where their money is really being spent. Let’s try to cut back on those regretful nights wasted in long lines and disappointing clubs, and instead spend a few extra hours at the library. Your GPA and bank account will thank you.

But, wait, is anyone going out tonight?

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