Financial management tips for students: coping with money issues in university

One of the most useful skills to have in university is the ability to handle money responsibly. University life can be quite expensive; if you are unprepared for financial challenges-, it may have a negative impact on your life including your academic performance. You need to learn healthy habits of using money, which will come in handy when you go to university. Below are some practical tips on how to survive the financial challenges in university.
1. Create a budget
Planning on your monthly expenses is one of the ways that will help you to distinguish between what counts as “wants” or “needs”. Draw a monthly budget, which will include a list of goods, and/or services that you need to pay for in a month such as food, rent, airtime, transport etc. It is also important to include other expenses like “pocket money” for buying at the shops or going out for movies because this is usually where most people spend money often without realizing how much money they have spent. it’s better to have a good idea about how much money you can use in a month. The sooner you practice budgeting, the better- do some research and start right away!

2. Avoid impulsive spending
Following from being more aware of your spending, you need to avoid the temptation of spending too much money or buying items that you do not need. You may have been able to get as much money, as you wanted in high school for instance, but being at university means learning how to be more independent by become responsible. Firstly, you need to learn to be smart about how you spend your money. Ask yourself, “is it really worth spending this much money on this item right now?” Secondly, you need to stick to your budget. Do not allow other influences such a peer pressure to convince to spend more than you have already allocated for stuff that is more important. Make it a point to be mindful of your spending habits.

3. Do your homework on loans and study aid
University life can be quite expensive; fees, accommodation, food, textbooks can cost you an arm and a leg. You really need to be aware of financial options available in order to avoid the added pressure of trying to find financial support while trying to study. Do some research on bursaries available for your course; a bursary may cover expenses like accommodation, tuition, and books. Alternatively, you may apply for the National Finance and Aid Scheme (NSFAS) loan or a student loan through a commercial bank. Many students who go into university without financial assistance tend to have more difficulties with their studies compared to other students; some even drop out due to the lack of financial support. Therefore, it is important to plan, apply for funding as early as possible.

4. Shop smart
Smart people, shop smart! Here are three useful tips on smart shopping while in university:

• Buy 2nd hand textbooks. Textbooks can be quite expensive, some textbooks will get to use for only for a semester. Unless it is necessary, but a second-hand textbook. It is really a better option because you can find them on reduced prices. Find out if you can buy a used textbook on campus, or you can also search for online stores that sell used textbooks that are cheaper but in good quality.

• Always ask for student discounts. Many stores give out goods and services to students on discount, carry your student card and save!

• Always target the items you want on sale. You do not have to buy the item the first moment you see it, waiting a bit is the smarter choice because you might get it on a discounted price.

5. Become an entrepreneur
The first four point focused on how to spend money wisely in university. Nevertheless, you can make some money while studying. Starting a small, manageable business can help you earn money so you can afford items that you are unable to budget for. You can also learn some skills that might come in handy as you complete your qualification. Some students also look for part-time jobs to make money; you can also start-off by learning how to be your own boss. Entrepreneurship is a valuable skill for any young person in skills such as learning how to handle money, creating ideas, working with others, improving communication skills including your self-esteem. While thinking about how to spend money is quite useful, also consider making money.

Useful links: http://www.nsfas.org.za
http://www.stealthywealth.co.za/2016/06/how-to-draw-up-budget.html

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