13 March 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa
financial savvy
Over 60% of South African students are in debt and spend more than the average South African adult.

For many students, university is their first money-management experience, and it is therefore crucial for them to prioritise basic personal-finance knowledge in order to avoid poor money management, and not knowing where their money is going.

Various other educational institutions, facilities, and initiatives such as Student Connections highlight student financial wellness as a topic of importance at higher-education institutions, because of the following reasons:

1. Low retention rates (university dropouts)
2. Loan default (graduating with student-loan debt)
3. Financial hardships affecting future success (low academic performance)

According to LinkedIn, a business and employment-oriented service, the spending and saving habits you develop in college are likely to stick with you throughout your adult life.

A personal finance study conducted by University of the Free State (UFS) Economics and Finance Lecturer, Cecile Duvenhage, revealed trends on how much students spend, and what they spend it on. Her outcomes discovered that students believe money buys them worthwhile experiences; it also revealed that over 60% of South African students are in debt, spending more than the average South African. 

According to Duvenhage, the best way to optimise your use of money is to understand three things:

1. The psychology of money – relationship with money, your goals (reality, beliefs, perception, experiences, repeated messages)

2. The science of money – where is your money? What are you using it on, and how to make more (investing, savings, assets, liabilities, expenses, and income/pocket money)

3. The art of money – creating a financial game plan to stay afloat (knowledge, context, personal goals, game plan)

The Guardian website also highlights important tips for managing your money:

- If you’re struggling to manage your personal finances, ask for help. The earlier you get support, the less susceptible you are to overspend 

- If you have financial aid, be sure to complete and send back your signed agreements in order to avoid delays in obtaining your money

- Add up your income, and then deduct all your essential expenses.

- Essential expenses include: tuition fees, rent/accommodation, electricity, and other accommodation expenses, groceries/food, and travel costs

The article, 6 common money management mistakes college students make, advises students to “live within your means, and [to] make choices based on the money that you have available.” 

The article further recommends that students download a free, easy-to-use budgeting app such as Fudget: Budget Planner or Intuit Mint on their cellphones, which automatically creates a basic spending plan to personalise according to their means.

For enquiries or assistance with money management, contact finaid@ufs.ac.za 

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