LISA DE KLERK
Watching someone scrape together a little heap of bronze coins for a Fego latte is a common sight on campus. In high school, your daily budget pretty much covered the odd pie and flavoured water at the tuck shop. The rest of your allowance would be earmarked for weekend respite and debauchery. However, varsity life, through its continual arc of expanding horizons, will expand your expenses as well.
You’ll find that your budget may now need to cover transport costs, textbooks with price tags higher than your rent, groceries, laundry, boozing and even using the internet or copiers on campus. Whether your parents still stick a few bucks in your pocket every month or if you’re considering getting a job, it’s important to plan ahead with your cash. Perdeby’s step-by-step student budget scheme should ensure you’re not living on dry cereal by the end of the month.
Firstly, draw up a table or list and organise your income. Manage it within a specific time frame, such as by week, month or semester. Your income may be generated through a job, an allowance from your parents, financial aid or student loans.
Now list your expenses in accordance with your predetermined time frame. The most important expenses, if applicable, will be your tuition and residence or accommodation fees. Once those are accounted for, work out your other necessities. Monthlies may include cell phone or internet bills, groceries, insurance and the like. If someone isn’t dropping you at varsity every day, you should incorporate taxi or bus fare, car payments or petrol into your budget. You may not be able to eat textbooka and though you will dish out for them with a heavy heart, they’re just as important for your varsity survival. Luckily, this usually only happens once every semester, so make sure your wallet is prepared for the bulk buy.
Leisure activities or purchases should be last on your list. Sure, it may feel better blowing your hard-earned moola on tequilas than filling up your petrol tank, but prioritising is key if you’re going to endure on a student budget. Include trips to the cinema, dining out, shopping, concerts, festivals or whatever isn’t absolutely necessary to your physical well-being in this section.
Now that you have your list, determine exactly what each expense will cost you. If the amount is indefinite or subject to change, give it your maximum rough estimate. Once you’ve tallied up all your expenses, subtract the figure from your income to determine your net income. Anything left in this equation can be allotted to your leisure budget or, if you’re financially savvy, a piggy bank.
Make sure you monitor your spending. Drawing up a budget is easy, but actually sticking to it is a bit more difficult. Overspending on a big night out or retail therapy may get you into trouble. The best way to do this is to collect all your receipts – that way, you can not only keep track of how much you spend but what you spend your money on. This is also a helpful way to determine whether or not you need to adjust your budget.
There’s great satisfaction in being able to stretch your budget by spending less than you’re supposed to. Being a student doesn’t only open you up to hefty expenses, but student specials and discounts as well. Purchasing an International Student Identity Card (www.isic.co.za) means a continuous flow of travel, online and leisure discounts. It’s only R110 once off, and Pretoria students are currently looking at discounts that include 5% off outdoor gear and clothing at Cape Union Mart, 90% off Microsoft software, 7,5% off a Vespa Scooter (including a free helmet), 10% off any Scooters pizza, 20% off sport, surfer and skater gear at Sport Unlimited, 15% off inter-city coach transport with Intercape, and more.
Students are also eligible for ongoing discounts on Apple products. In fact, Apple’s App Store has an easy-to-use application from Palgrave Macmillan called My Student Budget Planner. The description boasts that it “does all the hard work and number crunching – leaving you free to relax and enjoy the money you have.” For information regarding food and drink specials at your local watering holes, consult page 18 of the Entertainment section.
You don’t necessarily have to penny pinch to get through your degree. Just keep the splurging to a minimum and learn how to prioritise. Eliminating financial stress and being money wise will enable you to enjoy your new varsity lifestyle to its maximum appeal. After getting through high school, you’ve earned it.
Illustration: René Lombard