Collage is one of those places where you can literally run through your money, especially if you never had much to start of with.  It is for this reason that when it comes to the finances you will have to be responsible, calculate and have the foresight to plan a bit in advance.  Our Student Budgeting Tips will give you a quick head start in the adulthood of making ends-meat.

1.Need V.S. Want

This is a very simple idea that I suggest you take throughout your life, do you need or want this new item.  As a budget constrained student you need to make 2 lists; your needs and your wants.  Now go and say why do I need or want this item.  By making 2 list of needs v.s wants you are already separating the essentials from the non-essentials.  By adding the “why” you are ensuring the items on the list should be on the list – making your own version of a short list.

Remember that you will never need more than two of anything (except the kitchen (Max 4)).  As such think wisely and buy smartly.  Go do your research first, know what all the stores are asking for that new laptop bag or HDMI cable.  Also there are several great online opportunities as well, including free delivery, app promotions and discount vouchers.  I always waited for everything to go on sale, I still do that, I hardly buy anything full price.  

Don’t deny yourself the pleasures of material things, just pay less for them.

2.Become a Master Chef

Learning to cook will save you tons of money, simply because a sandwich today might seem cheap, but adding that sandwich cost for everyday and suddenly your budget is falling apart.  I know, I tried the expensive way, even with tons of mommy money.  Eating out everyday is not a financial option and it’s also not healthy.

Get yourself a food app and start investing not only in your bank balance and health, but also in a new skill.

BTW, the girls love a dude that can cook.

3.Be smart about your Study Material

Consider where to buy your university textbooks. Most of your study material will only be used for a semester or 2, nothing more.  Consider buying secondhand book, they will save you tons of money and after you’re done, you can sell them again.  It is for this reason that you should always take care of your textbooks, the quality of the item makes a huge difference to the value of the item.

4.Public Transport

For many South Africans public transport is the only option as is.  This might seem like a disadvantage, but honestly this might also be the cheapest way to get around.  I would also consider a Res that includes some transportation to and from campuses.  I know Remeds View in Maboneng has such a feature, there are others as well.

5.Student Discount

As a student you will become very efficient at being the best bargain hunter you can be.  There are great student benefits and  student discounts available,  you just need to know where to look.  

I unfortunately might not know the best places for student discount vouchers, but I can help you out with these places so long. I suggest you go make yourself a list of discount opportunities, next time you want to buy something, check if you can’t get it cheaper first. Chances are you can, and also ask at the cashier counter; “do you have student discount?”

Some Student discount sites:

6.Technology and its Advances

Make use of our new age with all its technological advances.  We have 10 Great Student apps for you, including some budgeting apps.  These apps might seems pointless, because you can see your balance at the ATM.  But the point is not to only see your balance, but to be fully aware of how the balance came about.  Budget student apps can help with that.

7.Create a Budget

I used the envelope system my granny taught me in my student years. This system of budgeting has helped me alot.  But I also understand that I never had to think too hard about how I spend my money as my mom gave me money for every week.  If you are one of those student who have to be a full-fledged adult and manage all your financial funds yourself, well then you are going to have to be smarter about it than what I had to be.

  1. Start by calculating all your income for the entire year.  
  2. Calculate all your expenses the essentials from the desires.  
  3. Deduct the essential expense from your income, the remaining amount is in theory your spending money.  But I suggest you work conservatively with these “spending money” as unforeseen events could occur that can eat into your spending money fast.  I suggest you take your spending money and divide it into 12 months.  This will give you the max that you are allowed to spend every month, nothing more except for emergencies.

Guess low for income

Guess High for Expenses

8.Find a Part-Time Job

A part-time job is great way to gain some extra income.  We have 10 Part-time jobs that will enhance your  career path from day one.  I would recommend that you consider what you need from this job and why.  If the why is only for luxuries then you need to consider the consequences of splitting your focus away from your studies.  Is it worth it, will you lose valuable study time and can you make it up.

Remember you are there to study, splitting your focus must only be for the essentials.

9.Be smart, not dumb

Honestly you only need to apply proper foresight and logic to making your budget work. Take the cash you have for Friday night, don’t take your card.  This way you ensure that you can’t over spend, and thus ensuring you can pay the rent.  The idea is to use the money you have for that day, nothing more.

I would however take 10% of your total income and put this in an emergency account for the year.  The remaining 90% you can divide in whichever way you think will work best for your budgeting requirements.

Hers is a short list of expenses most students always under-estimate, when making your calculations for these be very realistic by researching the price tag first.

  • Textbooks and Study Material
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Food
  • Going to the pub Friday Night
  • Clothing

10.Starts a Savings Pocket

Getting into the habit of saving is a very good idea.  We are living in very unpredictable economic times, and finding a job after your 3 years might just take longer than expected.  It is for these very tough times that you will be too grateful that you had the foresight to save as much as you can – everyday.  Don’t deny yourself your little pleasures, but be wise with is it needed or wanted.  And if it’s wanted then buy only on special, discount or sale.

FNB has this nice money savings pocket feature, it takes the few cents from every transactions and add it to your pocket account.  Before you know it you will have a spear R1000, waiting to be spend on that well deserved Christmas gift to yourself. I believe Capitec Bank has a similar feature.

A lot of students will tell you to wait until you are at Varsity.  Wait a week or two and see what it’s like, and never stop asking your student friends how they make their finances work.

Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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