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Recalculating the Student Budget

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a demand for changes to be made in various areas of our lives. With its arrival, and subsequent transmission through the country and world at large, people began to exercise precautionary measures to ensure their health, and the health of those around them, in efforts to flatten the curve. Although we now find ourselves familiar with the new behaviours brought about by the pandemic, this was not always the case. Routines were changed and priorities were shifted to ensure better assimilation to the circumstances we found ourselves in. It is safe to say that we will not be returning to the ‘normal’ we had become accustomed to, so some of these routines and priorities will remain fixed in the new forms they have taken in our lives.

For the student, the pandemic has meant having to adapt to a new mode of learning and bidding farewell to all the other joys that come with the student experience, almost overnight. The student budget no longer accounts for Uber fairs, the occasional late-night McDonalds order or monthly groceries and essentials, as the actions and situations that warrant such expenditure are not applicable in the current times.  

This calls for another change to be made: a recalculation of the student budget. This is necessary, in order to adjust to the realities of the pandemic and a COVID-19 adapted world thereafter. One does not have to be an accountant to draw up a budget. It is as simple as taking a piece of paper or opening your Excel. List all your monthly expenditure, both recurring and leaving room for the unexpected, then calculate the difference with your income, making changes to your spending habits if or where necessary. The following tips are just a few ways you can start amending your budget:

Shop Pandemic Wise

Adding hand sanitisers, gloves, vitamins, surgical masks or assortments of decorated cloth masks (if you want to be fashionable) to your monthly shopping list is a good place to start. Set aside a certain amount of money for your pandemic supplies, taking into account brands and products you have developed a liking for to have a better estimate. Not having an income that accommodates higher-end products is not a problem, prioritise your health above all else. So long as the products get the job done, they do not have to be of the luxurious variety. 

Reallocate Your Money

Being away from campus and having limited opportunities to engage in activities for the sake of entertainment means the money once dedicated to such activities can be used elsewhere. Consider spending on your hobbies and interests, use it to buy that one thing you couldn’t before because of the tightness of your budget or invest in your personal growth and selfcare by signing up for a class or gifting yourself a care package.

Put It In The Piggy Bank

Having money does not mean you should spend it. Now could be the perfect opportunity to get into the habit of saving; save your money and only use it when necessary. Your future self will thank you for developing that discipline when there comes a time you need it or simply have a little extra for the pleasures of life. If you want to take it a step further, open a separate savings account and watch the habit become a lifestyle.

Be Money Savvy

Good deals are everywhere. And where they are scarce, you can always get creative. Pursue active ways to limit expenditure without compromising on personal preference and quality. When you feel like spoiling yourself with a new outfit, stop by a thrift store. Download a money-saving app, cancel unnecessary subscriptions and use your student discounts where you can, because you are still a student!

Small changes yield big results. Changing some aspects of your budget, or even drawing up a budget for the first time, are steps towards developing a better understanding of, and relationship with, your finances. This relationship is a lifelong one that – when approached with good habits and knowledge – can be quite fruitful and rewarding.

Luyanda Banda is a LLB student at UCT. A follower of current affairs and commentator on the intersectional black and female experience. She has keen interests in writing, business and female empowerment, and hopes to connect all three in her future endeavours. 
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