7 Ways to survive on a tight student budget (and still save)

13/12/2018

According to a 2017 Student Village study (A Brand Me Generation: Buying Experiences), students spend more than the average South African – an average of R2 714 a month. That doesn’t leave much to put into a savings account

Depending on how you look at it, R2 714 is not a lot of money to cover groceries, transport, textbooks and entertainment, not to mention savings for a holiday or a clothing item you really want. You can live on a student budget though. All you need is some frugality and innovation – not to mention self control.

Here, we share some tips that will have your student bank account looking like it’s payday every single day.

  1. Make everyday #BlackFriday

Being a student has its perks. A lot of places have student discounts or deals, so take advantage of them. You can use websites like Student Deals or Varsity Vibe for discounts on electronics, airtime, clothing, etc.  You can even get student discounts from certain grocery stores. Get into the habit of flashing your student card like you’re an FBI agent at a crime scene.

  1. Thrift shop for the win

If you really want to make your money go further, avoid buying new. It’s actually become so en vogue to buy vintage or second hand that even the cool kids do it – especially textbooks and clothes. Student towns like Braamfontein and Melville have some really interesting charity shops where you can get jeans for as a little as R70, or a quirky shirt for R30. Plus, some of it goes back to charity. Double win!

  1. Shop at home

Don’t tell your parents you heard this from us, but it’s an actual thing to shop for groceries at home. Just don’t make it a weekly thing. When it gets rough towards the end of your allowance, there’s always your parents’ pantry for the essentials like milk, rice, coffee/tea, eggs and meat – that is, if you’re fortunate enough to be studying in the same city as home.

  1. Be data wise

One of the best things about being a student these days is that a lot of tertiary institutions or student towns (like Braam) offer free Wi-Fi. That means you hardly have to spend money logging on to the Internet for socialising or research. For those who don’t live at res, get a WhatsApp bundle that can last you through the month and only use other apps like Instagram (which chows a lot of data) when you’re in a Wi-Fi zone.

  1. Learn to cook

Nothing says ‘baller’ like dining out. For the student on a budget though, this could be disastrous for your figure and health – chip rolls and coke everyday will make you sick (and broke) eventually.

Bushang Nkoane, a final year Industrial Design student at UJ, says he embraced home cooking to save on expenses. “My biggest money saver is packing a heavy lunchbox so I wouldn’t spend on food at school. I cook enough for a few days on Sunday, freezing in small containers and defrosting as I need it. It gets a little bit boring after some time, but it works,” he says.

  1. Make staying in fashionable

Kamo Masekela, a Media and Communications student at Monash University, has mastered the art of in-home entertainment. “If my friends and I would choose to go out, we opt for places closer to school, normally within a 5km radius such as Hooters or Clearwater Mall, but these days we just buy drinks and have braais and dinners at each other’s houses. Far cheaper and still so much fun.” The old movies on a laptop and popcorn are also known to do the trick.

  1. Get a side hustle

Former UJ student, Katlego Mataboge, says she used to get have to stretch R1000 throughout the entire month, which was no easy feat. So she used to do other students’ hair at res for extra money – she says she could make about R500 on a good month. There are a number of places where you could get part-time work for extra money. You could also volunteer your time to organisations like Ikamva Youth and tutor high school scholars. This will not only look good on your CV, it could also help to curb your spending habits – you know what they say about idle hands.

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