Bank Better, Live Better

how to budget at university

How to write an essay, work as part of a team and manage your time; these are skills you’re probably going to learn at varsity. You know what else you’re going to learn, and fast?

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How to manage your money. It’s Survival Skill101, and you should ace it before you tackle anything else.

Budgeting basics

Let’s start with the basic budgeting equation: 

Money coming in (income) – set costs = spending money

Now draw up a table and make a column for all your sources of income (such as student loans, bursaries, an allowance from your parents or your side hustle), another column for your monthly costs (like your rent, tuition fees, commute, textbooks, mobile data and airtime, Netflix and, obviously, food), and a column for each of your spending categories – where you use the money you have left over (these are your ‘nice-to-haves’: going out, gym memberships, clothes or general hobbies). 

Update this table weekly to stay on top of what’s coming in and what’s going out. If you’re a Capitec client, use the handy Track Money tool on our banking app to view your income and expenditure, already categorised, in one full statement. 

Budgeting golden rules

  • Always come out even (or positive). Now is the best time to get into the habit of living within your means. That means only spending the money you have, and no more
  • Allocate your spending money into different categories. Work out what’s most important to you – buying groceries for the week or splurging on new kicks – and put your money there 
  • Make saving one of your monthly costs. Create a savings plan and always pay yourself first by allocating a small amount to it every month when money comes in. With Capitec, you get 4 free savings plans that you can use for your goals. Even a little bit goes a long way over time, and that money can go towards luxury extras like travelling or splurging on a new pair of designer pants.

Budgeting top tips

  • Once you’ve worked out your monthly budget, break it down into a weekly budget. It’s easier to keep track of weekly spending, so you’re more likely to reign in any overspending
  • Get into the habit of checking your bank balance every morning. It’s a good reminder of where you’re at financially so you can make savvy spending decisions during the day. Like staying in bed and binge watching your favourite series because that’s the only way you won’t tap your debit card. To make it easy, download the Capitec app to check your balances anytime, anywhere
  • Transfer the amount you want to save into your savings account as soon as the money comes in. That way you won’t ‘accidentally’ spend it at that end-of-month sale
  • Cut costs where you can. Share weekly meals with your roommates, or make use of Capitec’s Live Better benefits. These and other money-saving tactics can help you stretch your money further, such as a 15% discount on Greyhound tickets or 50% off Educate24 online courses. You could also cancel online subscriptions you don’t use anymore, such as music streaming

Simplify your life

Move to Capitec and save money. There’s a low admin fee of R5 a month and you’ll only pay as you transact. And, don’t forget, you can use the banking app to record your actual spending. Do this weekly and throughout the month you’ll know how well you’re doing. 

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