Bud­get hacks for broke stu­dents

Sunday Times - - Money - Di­neo Tsamela Tsamela is the founder of pig­giebanker.com

Univer­sity can be an ex­treme test of the hu­man con­di­tion. Your mind is stretched in the most unimag­in­able ways, and so is your bud­get. Those for­tu­nate enough to re­ceive an al­lowance might want to know how to make it last as long as pos­si­ble in­stead of watch­ing it dis­ap­pear into thin air, as it seems to do more of­ten than not.

With a few hacks, man­ag­ing money at var­sity can also help set the pace for healthy fi­nan­cial habits when you en­ter the work­force.

Teach your­self how to bud­get

Start build­ing a sound def­i­ni­tion of needs and wants, and al­lo­cate your funds ac­cord­ingly. And be strict about what con­sti­tutes a need. Set up a spread­sheet, or get a small note­book in which you keep a record of the money you get and what you spend it on.

Get a bank ac­count

Part of man­ag­ing your money and pre­par­ing for adult­hood is know­ing how to keep a healthy bank ac­count. But don’t set­tle for just any bank ac­count. Find one that’s cheap but cov­ers all your needs.

Take ad­van­tage of stu­dent dis­counts and buy in bulk

There are plenty of perks that come with hav­ing a stu­dent num­ber, and one is the stu­dent dis­count. This can be a dis­count on travel, food, cloth­ing or text­books.

Be­fore you pay the full price for any­thing, find out if you can get a dis­count.

You can also set up a “ne­ces­si­ties” stokvel with your peers, where you buy things in bulk at a dis­count and share them among you.

Buy sec­ond-hand text­books

Text­books can be in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive, and can re­ally eat into the money you have for your week’s sup­ply of noo­dles, eggs and bread. As far as you can, try to get your hands on sec­ond-hand text­books.

Or part­ner with a friend and share a text­book, split­ting the cost be­tween you.

Share costs such as Net­flix

Some­times all you want to do is de-stress with a ses­sion of “Net­flix and No

Text­books”, but pay­ing those sub­scrip­tions can be a bank breaker when you have too much to do with too lit­tle money.

One way to ben­e­fit is to split your Net­flix bill among friends. Your sub­scrip­tion will al­low you to con­nect up to six de­vices to your pro­file, and you can stream two movies or TV shows at the same time.

Keep an eye on your credit

Of­ten, univer­sity stu­dents are en­cour­aged to start us­ing credit cards and to be­gin build­ing their credit score early in life. How­ever, this can eas­ily lead down a path of ter­ri­ble debt headaches.

Be­fore you ap­ply for a credit card, or take on that store card, do your re­search. What are the in­ter­est charges like? How does this af­fect your credit score? Can you get a bet­ter deal? Are you dis­ci­plined enough to han­dle this re­spon­si­bil­ity?

In­vest, in­vest, in­vest

If you are for­tu­nate enough to have some money left over, or if you find time to earn some while study­ing or dur­ing the hol­i­days, con­sider in­vest­ing some of it.

If build­ing a credit his­tory is vi­tal for the fu­ture, start­ing your in­vest­ment port­fo­lio as early as pos­si­ble is even bet­ter for you and should take pri­or­ity.

Com­pound in­ter­est is the eighth won­der of the world, but you want it to work for you, not against you — as it does when you get into the debt trap.

Ex­change-traded funds might be a good place to start if you’re a begin­ner.

Use your tax-free in­vest­ment al­lowance to your ad­van­tage; the sooner you start con­tribut­ing to your tax-free in­vest­ment, the bet­ter.

Wor­ried about min­i­mum in­vest­ing amounts? There are sev­eral plat­forms that don’t dis­crim­i­nate on this ba­sis.

In­vest­ing can be ex­pen­sive, so you also have to do thor­ough re­search on the fees that come with some in­vest­ment plat­forms.

Fac­tor in min­i­mum-in­vest­ment amounts and bro­ker­age costs, and don’t for­get to look at monthly fees.

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