Spending Smart

A Guide to Halifax on a student budget

This guide has been collated to help new and returning students with money savvy ideas to help with budgeting and physical, mental and financial wellbeing.

Money Matters are often overlooked, despite it playing an essential part in our definition of health, happiness, wellness and success. Research shows that students worry about finances and say financial anxiety negatively impacts their mental health and their studies suffer as a result.

Halifax is one of Canada's fastest growing cities with so many fun things to do! This guide has been created to help Dal students enjoy their academic experience while also juggling their holistic wellness.

If you have any ideas for listings, please let us know at award@dal.ca

16 Tips To Save Money

  1. Make a budget & stick to it

  2. Differentiate your expenses – are they discretionary or essential?

  3. What are COVID-19 specific scams? Spot the signs!

  4. Avoid bad debt.  Eg – credit card debt / car loan

  5. Have an emergency fund

  6. If you need a credit card to afford it, you can’t afford it!

  7. Cook your own food. Eating out for every meal can not only be unhealthy but also very costly

  8. Explore student discounts. Being a student has many perks, and one of them is student discounts...

  9. Go with used.  Swap your old stuff for new swag!

  10. Plan your meals - never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry

  11. Make your own coffee & drink water

  12. Always pay bills on time to avoid late fees

  13. Never take out a loan for anything that's unrelated to your education

  14. Choose social activities that don’t cost money

  15. Give ‘Gifts’ of service instead of buying them such as cleaning / walking a dog / delivering groceries

  16. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help

Exploring Nova Scotia & Halifax

Tourism Nova Scotia - Explore the Whale Adventures, Halifax Waterfront, Tidal Bore Rafting and More. Everything you need to plan your fun time in NS!

Discover Halifax - Discover the heart & soul of Halifax!

The Great Indoors

Africville Museum – A great way to learn about the history of Halifax!

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia - Student pricing for tickets!

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotians - Located in Cherry Brook / Host tons of exciting events dedicated to cultural preservation and celebration

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 – Student pricing for tickets / Learn what it was like to come to Canada through Pier 21!

Captured Escape Rooms – A fun activity for you and a group of friends!

Cole Harbour Heritage Farm - 15-minute drive from Halifax – 471 Poplar Drive / Dedicated to preserving Cole Harbour’ s agricultural past – they have animals, a garden & a tearoom

Halifax Central Library - Lots of great resources and events!

Naval Museum of Halifax - Canadian Forces Base on Gottingen Street – Free Admission

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic – Super great place to learn about the valuable maritime history of Halifax!

Neptune Theatre – pay what you can events that celebrate the arts, history and diversity of Canada!

Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History – Inexpensive admission / Live animals, learn about Nova Scotia’s flora & fauna

Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame - Scotiabank Bank Centre at 1800 Argyle Street – Free Admission

The Board Room Game Cafe - Access to more than 1,000 board games.  Menu items are inexpensive & delicious!

Silver Ball Games - Multiple locations (Sunnyside Mall, The Pint House, Best Western) / Video arcade games from the 80’s


The Great Outdoors

Atlantic Film Festival - Each July & August, the Atlantic Film Festival holds weekly free outdoor movie nights across the city

Beaches - hiking, canoeing, kayaking, boating – Halifax is a unique city to attend University – take advantage of the incredible outdoor spaces the city has to offer!

The Emera Oval, Halifax Commons - Biking / skating and rollerblading / free ice skate, roller skate & helmet rentals (summer & winter) free concerts throughout the year as well

Burntcoat Head – Don’t miss the chance to experience the highest & lowest tides in the world along with lighthouses, gardens, local crafts etc.

Citadel Hill - Perfect spot for picnics (and a romantic place to watch the sunset!)

Fisherman’s Cove – A beautifully restored 200-year-old fishing village!

Hike the trails – Halifax is full of gorgeous trails – hiking is a great way to explore Nova Scotia & get some exercise!

Halifax Free Walking Tours – A great way to explore the city through the eyes of someone else!

Halifax International Busker Festival – Free!  The streets come alive with music, performers, etc.

Halifax Pride Festival (July) - Events across the city (often free)

Halifax Jazz Festival (July) - Free daytime shows on the Halifax waterfront.  Free evening shows at select bars in Downtown Halifax. 

Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk - the boardwalk stretches 4km along the Halifax Harbour / sit in the hammocks!

Halifax Commons – Located in the heart of Halifax – large greenspace perfect for picnics, hanging out with friends, etc.

Halifax’s North End & the Hydrostone – Lots of trendy restaurants, shops, & history – the Hydrostone District was built after the Halifax explosion destroyed most of the North End!

Halifax Public Gardens - 16-acre property w/ flowers, fountains, plants, statues, ponds & more.  In the core of downtown Halifax, open since 1867

Hemlock Ravine Park, Bedford – Lots of gorgeous trails to walk & an iconic heart shaped pond!

Historic Properties – Experience charming historic buildings & local goods right by the Halifax waterfront

Point Pleasant Park - Large municipal park in Halifax’s South End – 35 km of walking trails & a lot of history

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site – Learn what it was like for soldiers & civilians who lived in this fort back in the 1700’s

Halifax Transit – Ferries – The Ferries are a great way to get around (the Woodside Ferry takes you right to a Value Village!) but they are also a fun way to experience the Atlantic Ocean – plus student bus passes get you on for free!

McNabs Island – Explore military forts, untouched nature, hiking trails and more on this Island!

Peggy’s Cove Village and Lighthouse – Beautiful scenery & an iconic historic lighthouse – Peggy’s cove is a Nova Scotia must see!

Shakespeare by the Sea – Outdoor professional theatre festival located right in Point Pleasant Park!

Shubie Canal – Kayak the canal – includes life jackets, paddles safety equipment.  Great spot to see beavers, otters, seals or minks

Titanic Graveyard – Fairview Lawn Cemetery where victims of the Titanic are buried

Halifax Town Clock – A Halifax staple, this clock is located on Citadel Hill

York Redoubt National Historic Site – This historical fortification overlooks the entrance to the Halifax Harbour & helped protect the Halifax port for three centuries!

Sir Sandford Fleming Park (The Dingle) - Dingle Tower – climb it to see amazing views of the northwest arm / walking trails, gazebo, picnic tables, a small beach

St. Mary’s Boat Club  - Each Saturday & Sunday during the summer from 11 am – 7 pm there are one-hour canoe rentals / also offer adult paddle nights Monday & Wednesday evenings

Hike along the precipitous coastal cliff of Cape Split – Beautiful scenery overlooking the Bay of Fundy – hike, picnic & take in the sights!

UNESCO town of Lunenburg – A surviving British colonial settlement established in 1973 – explore the beautiful town & see original architecture from the 1800s

Bay of Fundy Tide – One of the 7 wonders of North America! Highest tides in the world, sea life, fossils & more!

Tidal Bore Rafting – Enjoy a water ‘rollercoaster’ along the Shubenacadie River!

Segway Nova Scotia – Rent E-Scooters or go on a Segway tour around Halifax (an exciting way to see the city!)

I Heart Bikes – Go on a bike tour or rent a bike!

East Coast Outfitters Sea Kayaking – Rent kayaks, canoes and paddle boards, or go on a guided tour! Located in a tiny fishing village just outside Halifax, this is an awesome day trip

Kayaking & Canoeing – There are lots of places to rent canoes & kayaks across Halifax at different price points! A great way to connect with nature and explore the Atlantic Ocean

Surfing – Surfing is another popular waterfront activity in & around Halifax! Rentals are available at most beaches & although the water is cold, it is tons of fun!

DAL Student Union Building

DSU Food Bank - The DSU Food Bank is currently operating by appointment only to make sure we reduce the chances of spreading the virus. Please line up at the Seymour St entrance of the SUB at your allotted time.

Equity and Accessibility Office - E&A is operating from their SUB office; however, please make sure to book your appointments ahead of time so they may be approved. You can also contact them via Teams or email.

DSU Farmers’ Market - This year we will be running every Tuesday from 9:30am - 3:00pm for Food Box pickup only at the Dalhousie Student Union Building.

Loaded Ladle – 6136 University Avenue - Non-profit cooperative of students & community members.  Free, locally produced meals at the SUB on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays at 1pm

Feasting On A Budget

Ardmore Tea Room – 6499 Quinpool Road - Inexpensive breakfast food (with huge portions!)

BeaverTails – Located around Halifax – a classic Canadian treat!

Dilly Dally Coffee Café – A great local café with patio seating – grab a delicious breakfast & a coffee!

The King’s Galley – 6350 Coburg Road - Student operated King’s Galley.  Affordable coffee, grilled cheese, baked goods, etc.

The Grainery Food Coop Ltd. – 2385 Agricola Street, Halifax - Non-profit, volunteer run co-op.  Sells local, organic & sustainably grown food.  Option to volunteer each month for a discounted price on food

Indochine Bahn Mi – 1551 South Park Street - Unique fusion of Asian-inspired flavours

Izzy’s Bagel Co. – 118 Bedford Highway - Cheap and delicious Montreal style bagels

Jean’s Chinese Restaurant – 5972 Spring Garden Road - Massive portions at a great price.  They accept Dal Bucks!

Julien’s Patisserie Bakery & Café – 5517 Young Street - Fresh bread & pastries every day at 7 am.  Enjoy a coffee & a pastry on their patio without breaking the bank

Ko-Doraku – 5640 Spring Garden Road -                 Delicious sushi that is wallet friendly

Loaded Ladle – 6136 University Avenue - Non-profit cooperative of students & community members.  Free, locally produced meals at the SUB on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays at 1pm

Loong 7 Mart – Asian Grocery Store - Inexpensive groceries & personal items

Mary’s Place Café II – 5982 Spring Garden Road - Filling breakfasts and incredible staff

Salvatore’s Pizzaiola Trattoria – Delicious & inexpensive New York style pizzas, sandwiches, salads & desserts!

Halifax Seaport’s Farmer’s Market - longest running farmer’s market in North America (1750) open every day of the summer – delicious produce, prepared foods, and artisan goods.

The King of Donair – Open since 1973, the first Donair shop in all of Canada! A must try if you’re new to Halifax

Taste Halifax Food Tours – A great way to explore the city & try new food with friends!

Westcliff Diner / Grocery & Lunch – Fries, freshly made burgers & delicious milkshakes

Savvy Shopping

Amos Pewter – Beautiful and well-priced jewelry, ornaments, home décor & tableware

Black Market Boutique – 1545 Grafton street, Halifax - Clothing, jewellery, home décor

Flipp - Search for items & find local coupons

IKEA – Great place to buy inexpensive home basics! Bedding, furniture & more!

Jennifer's of Nova Scotia – Perfect place to buy Nova Scotia trinkets, gifts, apparel & home decor

Kijiji Halifax – Searching through sites such as Kijiji is a great way to find fabulous gently used items for cheap!

Facebook Marketplace - Great option for used furniture & household items.  Facebook groups are also a good option, spend some time searching and you’ll find something great!

Reebee - Search for items & find local savings/coupons/deals

The Tare Shop – 5539 Cornwallis Street, Halifax - Package free coffee shop & bulk store.  Groceries, beauty supplies & household items

Cheap Clothing

Thrift Stores - Value Village / Salvation Army - Second-hand clothing, furniture, etc. Put in a little time sifting & you’re bound to find your new favourite shirt or lamp!

Marshalls – Name brand clothes & other items, usually 20%-60% less than retail price

Winners – Also offers name brand items at less than retail price

Cheap Groceries

Bulk Barn – Buying pantry items in bulk is a great way to save money & shop sustainably!

Costco – Buy in large quantities at a lesser price!

Halifax Seaport’s Farmer’s Market – Established in 1750, just one year after Halifax was founded! Buy fresh local produce at the longest running farmers market in North America

Sports And Recreation


Cineplex – Movies are half priced on Tuesdays!

Playdium – Video games, bowling, food & more!

Putting Edge – Mini golf at a great price! Super fun activity for a special night

Captured Escape Rooms

Halifax Central Library - Lots of great resources and events!

Neptune Theatre – pay what you can events!

The Board Room Game Cafe - Access to more than 1,000 board games.  Menu items start are delicious & inexpensive

Silver Ball Games - Multiple locations (Sunnyside Mall, The Pint House, Best Western) / Video arcade games from the 80’s


Knowing what to be on the lookout for when it comes to scams is one of the best ways to protect yourself.

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!  You rarely get something for nothing!

2. If you receive a suspicious call or text do not give the caller any personal information.

3. If someone asks you to transfer money in the form of gift cards, iTunes vouchers, cryptocurrency or through money transfer services like Convera, it is always a scam.

4. Never give personal details, PIN codes or passwords to anyone.

5. Check the email address. If it is a scam, the email address will be filled in with random numbers, or be misspelled.

6. If you are pushed into making a decision on the spot, be suspicious. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think about it.

7.  Do not buy COVID-19 vaccines online or from unauthorized sources. The only way to access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is through clinics organized or endorsed by your local public health authority in collaboration with Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments.

8.  CERB and CESB payment / repayment scams - Beware of fraudulent emails, texts or calls about repaying the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or repaying the Canada Emergency Student Benefit. There are official ways to make a repayment.

9.  The Government of Canada is investing $3 million to help combat false and misleading COVID-19 information as well as the racism and stigmatization that are often the result.  https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/news/2020/04/supporting-canadians-to-think-critically-about-online-health-information.html

10.  The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security offers the tips to cyber-healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Please note that Dalhousie is not in any way affiliated or connected with any of the listings in this booklet of ideas. We are not paid to endorse any of the businesses or services that have been listed.