University cost has been rising ever so consistently year by year.  This is a worldwide trend that doesn’t seem to be changing. Instead it’s expected from students and their parents to simply make it work….  It is for this reason that it’s vital that you as a new student understand the importance of managing your pocket money successfully, ensuring you literally don’t run out of cash.

Running out of cash is not difficult being new to student life, no jokes:)

 Let’s start with the basics of your student budget approach

1. Pen to Paper

Start by making an Income v.s. Expenses list.  Divide your items onto these two main columns, money coming in and money going out.  With this in mind, I would like you to also consider your needs versus your wants.  Consider how we often believe that we neeeeeed that new xbox game, or shoes or even hot chocolate…. But honestly none of us need any of it.

What we need is to pay our rent, get to varsity, study our butts off, eat, sleep and then… what ever money is left. This was somewhat my exact order of importance, but I do know the importance of those wants, they keep us sane after all.

When considering your wants, consider if the wants is needed right now.  I realise this sound like we’re going in circles, but think of it as a rating system for your wants.  The more important/cheaper the want, the earlier it can be achieved/bought.

I started making you a short list, go ahead and add your extras.


  • Pocket Money from your loving family
  • Student Job that bring in extra cash
  • Varsity Bursary or Loan



The Essentials:

  • Accommodation: R3000 – R5000/month
  • Groceries: R3000/month
  • Telephone + Internet: R 800/month
  • Varsity Books and Study Material: R4500/semester

The Needs:

  • Medical Insurance: R450/month
  • Entertainment: R1000/month
  • Transportation: R1000/month
  • Extra Savings: R 300/month

Try to add a savings amount every month to your expenses.  Making sure that you save with your spending.  That savings pocket will be super handy someday;)

The Wants:

  • Clothing, Games, Expensive Toys: R3000/semester

The Once Offs

  • Settling In:  R3000
  • Bicycle: Will keep you fit, slim, save tons of cash & safe the environment R1200


2. Organise your Income

Income is different to expenses in the sense that you will be bothered with expenses far more than any income.  If you manage most of your studies through a maintenance loan or Bursary you will be receiving your lump sums once per semester.  A student job will pay you a monthly salary or maybe weekly wages, but the gist is that you will have to take your income and divide it among all your Yearly expenses.

Consider having two accounts:

  • The first being for those absolute must-haves (rent, food, internet, phone and general varsity).  The obvious idea is to not touch this money for anything other than what it’s been dedicated for.
  • The second can be your “spending” account. Your day to day account from which you live.  It is also a very good idea that you ensure you know exactly how much you can spend per month in order to manage your weeklies.  At the start it is absolutely recommended that you break your year now into weekly amounts.  Once you manage your weeklies easily you can start considering managing your monthly as one entity, instead of 4 entities.

3.Be Patient

As a new student you will have tons of time, it is suggested that you use this time to your advantage in being patient when the new toys comes out.  Wait for the items to fall in the junk pile or the discount rack.  Not always having the newest and bestest can be far more satisfying knowing that you have all your financial bases covered.

You should always ask yourself; “Is it worth the sacrifice…”  There is always a sacrifice to any item you buy or choose not to buy.  Way-ing up reality, in its full, often leads to surprising answers of… “I’ll wait a bit longer” or “I don’t even want it anymore”

4. You’re a student, take advantage of it

You will be surprise to know how many free stuff you can get as a student.  Always ask for student fees or discounts.  Most places have them and those that don’t should.

Consider those one for two deals with take-out, they safe so much.

5. Learn to do it yourself;)

It is essential that you start developing a self sustaining, efficient mind.  Consider expanding your skills beyond your course work by instance learning to cook.  Most students complain that their money just never seem to last, the biggest reason surprising (or not) is the consumption of food and drinks.

Learn how to cook for yourself, learn how to ride a bike, instead of a car.  There are always a cheaper way to do almost everything in life.  It’s now the best time to learn to go find them and perform the tasks yourself.


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
Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!

Click HERE To Call