What they don’t teach you at university

 

Congratulations! You’ve levelled up and are now a university student ready to enrich your mind in your chosen field. You might be living outside your parents’ home for the first time, in student accommodation on or off campus. As you step into adult independence, you’ll have to take on a few new responsibilities.

One of those responsibilities will be managing your own money. Whether it’s income you earn or have saved, your student loan, bursary, scholarship or grant funding, or an allowance from your family or a benefactor, it could be the first time in your life that you’re solely responsible for how your money is spent, saved and invested. Managing your finances well is as important as applying yourself to your studies.

We’ve outlined some student life hacks that you might find helpful.

 

Shoestring budget basics

 

  • Draw up a budget that lists your income streams – including any money from savings or a bursary, scholarship, grant, student loan, allowance or part-time job – and your monthly expenses. Even a simple breakdown of these numbers can empower you to make better money choices.

  • Be sure to include entertainment in your expenses. It’s unrealistic to pretend that you’ll simply avoid having a social life to save money – for most, it’s an important part of the student experience. It’s better to set down some limits in black and white, so that you can spot when too many parties are eating into your budget, and it’s time to cut back so that you can afford other necessities.

  • Take advantage of Nedbank MoneyTracker, a free money-management tool available on the Money app or Online Banking, to manage your budgeting quickly and easily, track your goals and become money-savvy.

 

8 tips to cut costs

 

  • Food is a necessity that you don’t want to skimp on, because it’s easier to learn when you’re healthy and well nourished. On a tight budget, the best way to afford a healthy diet is to cut down on the takeaways and processed snacks full of sugar and salt. Make those foods a rare and occasional treat, and instead prepare most of your meals from scratch with fresh, dried, canned or frozen ingredients. Fresh fruit and veg also make healthier snacks during long study sessions.

  • Organise bulk shopping with a few friends or the students in your shared accommodation. You can buy groceries and household cleaning products in larger quantities at lower unit prices and share the cost and the items among the group. Group shopping also lets you take advantage of +1 deals and other promotions, which may not be as cost-effective if you’re shopping for yourself alone.

  • Use energy-saving LED lightbulbs wherever you can, and switch on electrical appliances only when they’re in use. Many devices still draw a trickle of power when they’re in sleep mode, so turn them off at the wall socket – everything you can do to lower your electricity bill helps. You can also turn on your geyser about an hour before you shower, and then off again for most of the day, if you work out a reasonable hot water schedule with your housemates. Or fit a timer on the geyser – it’s a waste of electricity and money to keep water hot all day when it’s only needed for a few hours.

  • If you own a car, driving fast won’t give you much value for money. Drive efficiently – in other words, at safe speeds that give the best fuel economy and cause less wear and tear on your brakes, steering, suspension and transmission – and keep your vehicle well-maintained. Carpool to save on fuel and maintenance costs.

  • If you rely on public transport, plan all your scheduled stops to get the most out of each outing. Factor your trips home into your budget – if you buy tickets in advance, you can often get discounts, and it makes your travel planning easier over busy periods like public holidays.

  • Make a challenge of thrifting! Use charity shops and local farmers’ markets to find furniture, clothing, food and other household needs at much lower prices.

  • Cancel any unnecessary subscriptions and choose 1 entertainment provider for music, movies and series. Sharing accounts with your housemates can also help you save while still getting access to different streaming services.

  • Take advantage of savings at retailers when you’re getting set up in your dorm room or student accommodation. Some stores offer discounts to students buying bedding, home accessories and other comforts for your living space.

 

Pick up these valuable life skills in your youth, and you’ll not only be more financially secure while you’re a student, but you’ll also be equipped to manage your money at every life stage thereafter

 

How can I start saving money?

 

  • With the right mindset, saving as a student is not impossible, even on a shoestring budget. Your social life is probably the key factor that decides whether you can start building a firm foundation of savings and investments while you’re studying. You need to develop the discipline to skip a student party if the money you’d spend on it should be going to other expenses in your budget, like food or investing in your future.

  • At the very least, you should start an emergency savings fund, and add to it every month. This gives you a reserve of cash that you can use immediately if you have a financial emergency, like unexpected medical bills or car repairs. Nedbank clients don’t even have to open another savings account – you can create a MyPocket labelled ‘emergency savings fund’ on your Nedbank current account using our online channels. You can then transfer emergency savings in or out of it whenever you like and earn up to 7.25% interest per year on balances under R10,000.

  • Of course, it’s easier to save if you supplement your income with a student job, which can provide added cash for both your social life and your savings. Explore part-time jobs on and off campus. A student job can also be an opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience for your career after graduation.

Pick up these valuable life skills in your youth, and you’ll not only be more financially secure while you’re a student, but you’ll also be equipped to manage your money at every life stage thereafter. University can give you a wealth of knowledge in the field you’ve chosen, and if you make sure you learn life lessons about money management at the same time, you’ll set yourself up for a successful future of conscious money choices.