How to manage your money on a budget at varsity

By Isabelle Coetzee

High school is over, and it’s time to face the “real world”. This may include studying at a university or college and, in most cases, this means taking responsibility for your own finances.

This is a giant step into adulthood and there are unexpected hurdles you’ll have to overcome. To get your mind in the right space, we have a look at some starter tips for money management at varsity.

Tip: Got your first set of wheels too? Make sure your car is insured by clicking here.

Where do you get your money?

Before you start spending, you first need to establish where the money will come from. There are four main sources of income you can make use of as a student:

  • Allowance from parents
  • Part-time job
  • Grant or bursary funding
  • Student loan

Nowadays, with the advent of online work, your part-time job opportunities may include online teaching or being a social media influencer or YouTuber streamer. You should throw a wide net when you look for part-time jobs, and be creative with how you turn your resources into profit.

READ MORE: Did you know there are alternatives to traditional budgeting?

This is how you should manage your money

According to Eloise Boezak, head of customer experience and customer empowerment at African Bank, the best way to avoid financial stress on top of the pressure of your studies is to have your money management figured out well before you even open a book.

“A budget helps you organise and plan, to allocate your income towards expenses, savings and debt repayments, and ensure you always know exactly how much money you have,” says Boezak.

“Many people avoid budgeting because it seems too difficult, but there are many online tools and mobile apps that make it easier,” she explains.

Boezak suggests making a list of your monthly expenses. For example, this could include:

  • Groceries
  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Electricity
  • Airtime and data
  • Textbooks
  • Entertainment/ Pocket money

“Now take your expenses and deduct them from your income to get an idea of what you have left over at the end of the month. If there is a shortfall, cut back on luxury items,” says Boezak.

For example, rather than buying coffee or a sandwich at the cafeteria, she suggests making yourself a sandwich or flask of coffee at your residence before leaving for lectures.

“Look for student discounts when shopping and, if you have a credit card, check what rewards it offers. You can often redeem grocery vouchers or data and this will be an added saving,” says Boezak.

READ MORE: Four steps to rethinking your budget

She recommends making savings a part of your budget, even if it is a small amount like two drinks or a pizza per week. Put it in an account and forget about it.

“The great challenge with the concept of budgeting is that it feels like there are not a lot of benefits and it’s restrictive. This is simply not true. Imagine how freeing it is to know how much money you have and can spend. It reduces stress levels knowing exactly what you can and cannot afford,” says Boezak.

“It’s also exciting to save in a way that does not feel difficult but could be used for the year-end holiday or even towards your first apartment,” she adds.

Boezak believes that learning how to budget properly and sticking to a budget is a discipline that everyone should learn.

“A budget should make provision for the here and now, but also include room for future goals like paying off your student loan or buying your first house. How well you manage your money and payments now will determine your future financial wellbeing,” says Boezak.

You can take out a personal loan to help enhance your future and grow your long-term finances.

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