Financial literacy for higher education Students

It is important that young people, especially students, acquire financial literacy skills, say Meshel Muzuva, Economics Academic, and Dr shame Mugova, Finance Academic at MANCOSA.

It is important that young people, especially students, acquire financial literacy skills, say Meshel Muzuva, Economics Academic, and Dr shame Mugova, Finance Academic at MANCOSA.

Securing a financial future is important for young people, especially university students who need to acquire financial literacy skills.

A lack of financial literacy can result in unwise decisions, with dire consequences which will linger for years.

For many young people, college is their first money-management experience. However, many students are not adequately prepared to handle their own finances. One of the main reasons that students drop out of college is because of poor personal money management.

As a college student, it is important to know the fundamentals of smart money management so as to avoid some of the most common financial missteps highlighted below.

Not Creating a Basic Budget

One of the most common financial problems for college students is not having a budget.

A budget is telling your money “where to go” instead of wondering “where it went”. Some people spend money on things they do not need, or to impress people they do not know.

Students often have financial constraints because they do not have a regular income. Tracking one’s spending and ensuring priorities are taken care of are very important.

Thus, having a spending plan will allow one to practice the principles of personal money management such as saving, investing and growing one’s assets.

Experience gained managing a small amount of money will be very important when dealing with large sums of money in future. It is of paramount importance to prioritize educational expenses such as tuition, books, computers and basic needs such as accommodation, food and clothing.

Abusing Student Loans

The cost of university has gone up dramatically in recent years, and many students are relying on student loans and grants, for example, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to pay for their studies.
However, students receiving bursaries for their studies lack experience in money handling and this could contribute to misuse of funds and neglect of studies which in turn results in poor academic performance and the risk of not graduating. Bursaries are intended to make students’ lives less stressful. However, they sometimes have the opposite effect. There are students who focus on pleasure seeking and the availability of money will lead to bad behavior. The lack of morals, ethics and honesty with dealing with money results in overindulgence. An allowance to buy a laptop for instance can be redirected towards alcohol and drug abuse.

Not Determining Wants vs. Needs

Sounds pretty basic, but many college students try to live outside their means because they haven’t thought about categorizing their expenses – determining what they really need versus what they want. Food is a need and coffee is a want. Rather than going to the coffee café, brew your own coffee at home for a lot less.

Determining wants versus needs will help college students avoid impulse purchases and overspending. Also, it discourages students from allowing wealthy people take advantage of their financial circumstances; with adequate resources they are able to make a distinction between wants and needs.

Succumbing to Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a very powerful phenomenon on college campuses which influences spending patterns. The need to feel belonging to the group gives young people the pressure to acquire certain status symbols on and off campus. They shift from who they were to what they have always aspired to be, instead of delaying gratification.

This is where financial goals are important; students need to concentrate on what they really want out of life in order to help them avoid overspending. There is need for one to be able to make independent decisions and sound judgement on spending money. Herd mentality is a cognitive bias that affects spending patterns and even investments.

There are opportunities where students are given chances to get discounts and save money whereas other adults need to pay the full price. Making use of such facilities will result in savings. It is advisable to consider buying second-hand books if they are available. You also need to stay mindful of your student loans and plan to repay early.

You also need to be aware of personal identity theft; remember to create strong passwords and to log off when using a school lab computer. Spend less than you earn and save. It is also important to start building a credit record; if you qualify for credit, take a small item and pay your instalments regularly and on time. Building credit record will give you access to credit which you will need in future.