April 03, 2018

Be smart with your money

By Nana Zuke

As a grown up now, the one thing I wish my parents taught and impressed upon me is smart financial habits. I’ve always drowned and struggled with budgeting and keeping track of where my money goes.

Like most things, budgeting and handling money is a habit, and most habits need to be taught or enforced at a young age so that it becomes part of your regular behaviour. Good financial management habits help you to be responsible and prevent you from getting into bad debt.

Most teenagers move away from home as soon as they finish matric to stay by themselves either at res or they rent a flat. When you live alone you start learning independence. Certain privileges that you may have at home are sadly no longer available. Things like eating whatever you want because mom and dad bought groceries, going to the mall with friends randomly to watch movies or shop for luxuries is now a thing of the past.

When you are in college, parents might still give you a monthly allowance so that you are able to get by. The onus is then on you to ensure the allowance you are given lasts the entire month. To get into the habit of effectively managing finances the first important thing to do is to budget. Start by writing one down. Knowing what you are going to spend money on in advance will help you track your expenses.

Tracking expenditure allows you to collate your expenses at the end of the month. This can help you see where you can do better with your money. Another habit that might be wise to adopt is monitoring what you are spending money on. Not everything you buy is a necessity- some things you can definitely do without.

There’s a difference between wants and needs as a student. It is so easy to get caught up in the things we wish we had. Like that nice bag we see constantly at a store as we walk past or those expensive sneakers we wish we had. When you are student, fancy items are not a need but rather a want. You need to be able to differentiate between the two. It’s important that you develop this conscious discipline.

Compiling a shopping list also pulls you away from spontaneous spending and makes you conscious of unnecessary items. Go into a store with a list, strictly stick to it and respect your budget. This will also condition you to be more responsible and be in charge of your money instead of it being in charge of you.

Put away a little every month, it really goes a long way when rainy days come. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, you can save from as little as R50 to R 200 a month depending on how much your pocket allows. This could mean opening up a separate account to save for that special occasion. You can rest assured knowing that you have something tucked away to assist you in future. 

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