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Youth finances

This Youth Month we speak to young people about money management and the challenges they face regarding their finances.

14 June 2021

Understanding South Africa's youth and their financial challenges

South Africa's youth face a unique set of financial issues that have the potential to affect their lives profoundly. It's a potent combination of economic factors, socio-political issues, and personal choices. JustMoney shares some of the more significant financial issues faced by South African youth.

The burden of unemployment

Unemployment is one of the most significant problems South African youth grapple with. With a youth unemployment rate consistently higher than the global average, finding sustainable, well-paying jobs is a considerable challenge. The lack of employment opportunities not only limits income but exacerbates poverty levels and contributes to socioeconomic inequalities.

The high cost of education

Access to quality education is a longstanding issue in South Africa. The costs associated with tertiary education are prohibitively high for many families. While there are scholarships and bursaries available, they are highly competitive and insufficient to meet demand. This often leaves students in a difficult position, trying to secure the necessary funds for their education.

The pressure of student loans

As a result, many students resort to student loans. However, the burden of repayments adds another financial strain – sometimes before the student has secured a job – adding to the cycle of financial distress.

The trap of consumer debt

We asked some JustMoney team members to identify the biggest financial stumbling blocks for South African youth. Here’s what they had to say: 

Too many options

Easy access to credit can lure young people into a cycle of debt. Credit cards, personal loans, and payday loans may seem like easy solutions for short-term financial needs, but the high-interest rates and fees can quickly lead to a spiral of debt. Rick Harrison discusses the fact that youth have so many options, and choosing the correct avenue can be overwhelming. 

The culture of consumerism

Mioshi-Aal de Kock speaks about the culture of consumerism – driven by societal pressures and advertising – which encourages spending beyond means and further exacerbates the debt situation. The drive to attain the latest branded clothing and the best technology can be a trap for young people.

Inadequate financial literacy

Waseem Ismail notes that many young South Africans lack the knowledge and skills to manage their finances effectively. He also mentions the prevalence of false money information targeted at youth on social media. Financial literacy is crucial to make informed decisions about saving, investing, and debt management.

Lack of savings and investments

Without a strong foundation in financial literacy, many young people find it difficult to save or invest, further limiting their financial growth and security. Louwna van Wyk says she wishes she had understood the benefit of saving when she was young. She mentions the different bank accounts available to young people, which she didn’t know existed.

The impulse of instant gratification 

In the digital age, the issue of instant gratification has become increasingly prevalent. This refers to the desire to experience pleasure or fulfilment without delay or deferment. It's the “I want it now” syndrome, where the pleasure of having something immediately outweighs the potential long-term benefits of waiting until you have the means to afford it. 

Unfortunately, in financial terms, this often translates into impulsive spending and poor financial decision-making. In a world where online shopping, easy credit, and digital payments make spending easier than ever, the allure of instant gratification can lead to spiralling debt and financial instability.

It's crucial to understand this tendency and work on delaying gratification to make more prudent financial decisions. JustMoney’s resources can be particularly beneficial in this regard, including tools and advice to help manage these impulses effectively.

Solutions to youth's financial problems

There are no quick fixes for these challenges, but there are some potential solutions.

Improved financial education

Financial literacy can empower young people to make smart financial decisions. This type of education can be integrated into school curriculums or provided through community programmes.

Innovative financial tools and services

The development of innovative financial tools and services can also play a role. These can provide easier access to affordable credit, savings tools, and investment opportunities.

While the financial challenges facing South Africa's youth are substantial, understanding these issues is the first step towards finding solutions. With the right support, including resources like JustMoney, there is hope for a more financially-secure future.

Frequently asked questions

What are the financial issues facing South African youth?

Unemployment, high education costs, lack of access to homeownership, consumer debt, inadequate financial literacy, and lack of savings are major financial issues for South Africa's youth.

Why is financial literacy important for South African youth?

Financial literacy is important as it empowers young people to make informed decisions about saving, investing, and managing debt.

What role does JustMoney play in helping South African youth?

JustMoney provides financial advice, resources, and tools to help youth navigate their financial journey.

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