Your student years are arguably the most carefree of your life – but with your newfound freedom comes great responsibilities! One of these is managing your money responsibly.

Did you know there are interactive tools out there which can make managing your student finances that much easier?

Building and managing a budget for student life

You’ve heard it all before: budget, budget, budget!

Budgeting is planning how to spend your money. It might sound boring, but budgeting really is the first step to smart money management.

It’s important because:

It lets you know how much money you actually have to spend and what you’re spending it on
It helps keep you out of debt
It allows you to plan for your future, helping you plan for months when money might be tight
It helps you save for things you need, like your education, and things you want, like a new car or a holiday.

Once you’ve put together a budget, you need to manage it and more importantly stick to it.

This seems like hard work meant for old men in grey suits, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without budgeting!

Are you asking “Wait, how do I build a budget?” Well, it’s not as difficult as you may think. You can, Download a Student Budget Plan from the Savings Institute of South Africa which will make your life so much easier.

Tools to manage your money

Previously, budget management meant keeping a tab on your income and expenses manually, i.e. with a pen and paper, or in a self-created spreadsheet. The good news is – it’s much easier now! You can just download a money management tool to track your cash coming in, versus what you’re spending. A budget management tool will:

Help you see all your finances in one place
Allow you to import your bank statements and assign your expenses to spending categories, such as ‘Groceries’ for example.
Present the information in an easy-to-understand visual format
Help you pay off debt and save for the future.

Most of South Africa’s major banks have downloadable money management tools: 

Nedbank’s Personal Money Manager
Capitec Bank Budgetanator Facebook Application
Standard Bank Student Achiever Online Budget Management.

Or, try one of these money management tools supported by most South African financial institutions:

Moneysmart is a free download
22Seven is a subscribed service.

Can I manage my student loan online?

Go on, admit it…managing your student loan or bursary can be a mission – it’s tempting to spend your money on something other than books, isn’t it?

The Eduxtras system from Eduloan splits your student loan or bursary into different ‘pockets’ i.e. books, food, tuition, accommodation, a cash allowance, and a savings fund.

You can only spend money from the various pockets at the appropriate, contracted outlets – no more excuses for overspending and running out of money! You can also monitor your pockets on Eduloan’s student portal.

How to use credit responsibly

Perhaps you’ve been given a credit card as part of your student banking package… Shopping up a storm simply by swiping a card is just too easy. What is not so easy, is paying back what you owe come month end!

To see just how easy it is to rack up a bunch of debt, try playing the Bank of America’s Playing with Plastic game. The figures are in US dollars, but the principle of buying on credit remains the same no matter what country you’re in.

Remember, if you budget wisely and use credit responsibly – with the help of online money management tools – you can avoid falling into the debt trap. There’s nothing worse than graduating with huge debt hanging over you!

If you find yourself in debt, however, it will take hard work, time, and very careful money management to get out. Use an online debt calculator – like this one from Debtcor Debt Counselling Services – which can help you devise a debt elimination strategy to live happily debt-free in the future.

Good luck!

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Interactive tools for managing your student finances