Managing your money after immigrating

Learn about budgeting and the cost of living in Canada, including costs of education

As a newcomer to Canada, you brought savings that will hopefully pay for your expenses until you land a job. The goal, of course, is that the job comes before the money runs out.

But that’s not always the case. Many newcomers struggle with budgeting their savings to last as they re-establish their careers. They are often faced with having to retrain or relicense in their field, all of which can be quite costly.

Gilberto, a paramedic from Mexico, knew he was going to have to relicense in his new province of Saskatchewan. Understanding that this process would take time and money, he found a job delivering furniture to pay for his daily living expenses, and started slowly saving to afford the licensing process.

It was a huge sense of relief when Gilberto discovered he wouldn’t have to wait too long to start the licensing process. He heard about Windmill Microlending, which provides low-interest loans up to $15,000 to help skilled immigrants pay for career-related expenses like licensing fees, credentials assessment and tuition.

The loan helped him pay for a credentials assessment and some of the mandatory courses he needed to take before receiving his license. The process took him a year, after which he found work as a paramedic and quit his delivery job.

Read more about applying for an affordable career loan through Windmill Microlending here.

“Getting the Windmill loan was very easy and helped me out a lot. I could save (some) money and not be forced into a strict budget. Without the loan, it would have been harder and taken more time for me to become a licensed paramedic in Canada,” Gilberto says.

Read Gilberto’s full story here.

Budgeting your money

With or without a loan, being careful with your money is good practice. Budgeting your expenses in relation to your income allows to take control of your money and reduces stress. It helps you live within your means and prevents you falling into and relying on debt for everyday living.

Read more about building a good credit history in Canada.

During your early days in Canada, it’s wise to adopt a conservative spending mindset and avoid making unnecessary or extravagant purchases. As in Gilberto’s example, you may be faced with budgeting in unexpected career, education or licensing costs.

“Figuring out how much your education, training or licensing plan will cost is important, but there are other critical considerations. For example, will you need to change your work or childcare responsibilities to study or prepare for exams? If so, will that impact your income and budget?” says Paula Calderon, national director, client success at Windmill Microlending. “Or, do you have a plan to generate income while you are gaining your credentials, particularly if it takes longer than expected? At Windmill Microlending, our loans can be a very useful tool to help you restart your career, especially if you have a household budget in place and/or you’d like to build or improve your credit score.”

In fact, as part of the application process for a Windmill loan, you will be asked to provide your total monthly expenses and income. You will need to consider all types of expenses and all sources of income as you determine your monthly budget, as cost of living in Canada can be quite high, especially for housing and childcare.

Here is an overview of what you should keep track of in your monthly budget:

Your income

  1. Savings ____________
  2. Any employment income ____________
  3. Your partner’s income ____________
  4. Loans ____________
  5. Income assistance or employment insurance ____________
  6. Child Tax Benefit and Universal Child Care Benefit ____________
  7. Other income ____________

Your expenses

  1. Rent/mortgage ____________
  2. Utilities (heat, water, electricity) ____________
  3. TV / streaming services ____________
  4. Home phone / internet ____________
  5. Cell phone ____________
  6. Food (groceries and dining out) ____________
  7. Household and personal care supplies ____________
  8. Childcare ____________
  9. Prescriptions and medical costs ____________
  10. Clothing ____________
  11. Transportation (car insurance, fuel, bus pass) ____________
  12. Money sent back home ____________
  13. Home or other insurance ____________
  14. Loan or credit payments ____________
  15. Miscellaneous costs Miscellaneous costs
  16. Other: ____________

See Windmill’s budget template here.

Keeping track of the money you bring in and the money you spend will help you stay in control of your finances and focus on establishing your life and career in your new country.

The Skilled Immigrant Career Success Guide,  a roadmap to help internationally educated immigrants achieve their full career potential in Canada, is sponsored by Windmill Microlending. To learn how a Windmill affordable career loan can help move your career in Canada forward, visit


Keeping track of your finances will help you be able to afford living in Canada and the costs of education and licensing. Look back at our previous three articles related to finances for more tips.

□ Want to learn about different loan options for skilled immigrants? See our article on types of loans here.

□ What is an affordable career loan and how do you apply? Learn how a loan of up to $15,000 can help you establish your career in Canada.

Poor money management can lead to a bad credit score. Learn more about building a good credit history here.

□ Think about whether you need financial help while building your career in Canada. Could an affordable career loan of up to $15,000 from Windmill Microlending help? Learn more here at Windmill Microlending here

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