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HOW TO BE… THE BOSS OF YOUR STUDENT BUDGET

So it’s month-end at varsity and you’re getting just a little tired of baked beans with your… baked beans. Maybe that hip duvet cover/caramel vodka session you splashed out on earlier in the month wasn’t the best idea after all?
But take heart: there’s hope for your lifestyle yet! ‘Budgeting well makes all the difference,’ says Cape Town financial planner KIRSTY SCULLY of Core Wealth Managers. Students can do it, she says. ‘The discipline of managing a budget isn’t very different from the discipline of going to lectures.’ And, promises Kirsty, if you can crack budgeting now as a student, ‘you’ll have a great grounding for when you move on in life.’
student-budget-piggy-bank-web
Photo: Tonya Hester | Piggy bank: Spilhaus

Planning principles that paint a 🙂 on your wallet

1. Set a budget for yourself

The most important tip here is to manage every cent. Whether you’re living on a student loan or money from your parents, you’ll need a budget. Find one online (try www.eebacanhelp.com or www.moneydance.com), or draw one up on your computer if you like things simple

It’s not very hard. All you have to do is note down your available income, then deduct the following:

  • fixed expenses such as rent, electricity, tuition fees, books, transport and food. These are usually set in stone. Start the budget by deducting them first
  • variable expenses such as eating out, clubbing, clothes and movies. When you’ve established your budget, you’ll want to make sure you can pay for the fixed expenses before you spend on anything else

Make sure that when you’ve deducted fixed and variable expenses from your income, you’re not in a ‘minus situation’. If you are, you’ll have to compromise on your variable expenses

2. How to (sigh!) reduce expenses

  • Only take a set amount of cash out with you when you go partying. No plastic cards. When the money’s finished, it’s finished. Time to go home…
  • Use your student card. You can get a good number of discounts by using this, so flaunt it
  • Before you buy anything, ask yourself: Do I really need it? Can I afford it? Is this the cheapest price? If the answer to any of these questions is no, don’t buy it
  • Textbooks cost a fortune: try buying them secondhand
  • If you stay in digs, pack in the housemates. The more the merrier, and the lower the cost
  • Transport − use university/public transport as much as possible. This saves hugely: no petrol, parking or car insurance costs
  • Socialising − you don’t have to go to every social function, only the free ones!
  • Credit cards: just don’t start with these unless you’re looking for a downward spiral in life!

3. Think way ahead, like waaaay ahead

If you’re nearing the end of your student days, start planning for the future. Set a goal for how much you’d like to save every month, and put it into action with your first salary cheque by investing in unit trusts. Set up a regular system for this

Sounds crazy to think of retirement, but if you want to retire to that rocking chair on your stoep while you’re still able to rock it, start saving now. The earlier you start to save, the less expensive that stoep will be, and the more room it’ll have for your mates!

 
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