Surviving On A College Budget

Tips on how to Survive on a College Budget

As a student, getting by on a college budget is not an easy task, especially if you have a student loan. Not only do you have to worry about paying the money back, but you also have to focus on getting by each month.

This page has a list of tips on how you can survive on a college budget. We will look at ways you can save, manage and earn money.

Stay away from debt

As an active student, you have to try and stay away from debt as far as you can. If you have to take out a student loan to pay for your studies, only borrow the amount of money you need. Students who apply for more money than they actually need, tend to spend the extra cash on items they don’t need.

Also, do not apply for a credit card. Unfortunately, there are still people who believe a credit card can fix their financial problems. The truth is, it will only set you back further. When you buy something with a credit card, be it lunch or a new pair of pants, you spend money you don’t have. Credit card interest rates are high, especially in our current economy. You will end up paying more money back than you initially spent. Not only will this put you way back financially, but also cause a lot of unnecessary stress. 

The same goes for clothing store accounts. Do not open clothing accounts. Rather save up and buy what you want with cash, than take it on credit.

Save with your student card

When you register as a student, the learning institution will give you a student card. Use this piece of plastic to your benefit. There are many stores in South Africa that give student discounts. You can get discounts at Puma stores, Factory (clothing), Cotton On, Stones, Kauai etc. For a complete list of stores that give student discounts, visit Varsity Vibe online. Remember, you have to be a registered student to qualify for these discounted offers.

Make extra money

These days, there are various ways in which you can earn extra money. And what’s great is that you don’t even have to leave your house to make a little extra cash. Here is a list of ways in which you can earn money and survive on a college budget:

Complete surveys online: Online surveys do not pay much, but it can boost your finances.

All you have to do is create an online account and wait for invites to surveys. You can sign up at Survey Compare, Mobrog, Surveywell, iPoll, Triaba.  

Start blogging: If you have a natural knack for writing, you can start writing your own blogs. All you have to do is create useful copy that will attract a lot of readers and subscribers. How to earn money? Advertising, affiliate marketing, and readerships you gained from one or a variety of income streams. To learn more about earning money with blogging, visit ProBlogger.  

Review websites online: There are online businesses that pay you to review websites and apps. All you have to do is browse the site or app and speak your mind (literally). You will need headphones and a microphone to do these reviews and record your experience. You can visit User Testing for more information.

Become a freelancer: There is actually a website called Freelancer. Here you can register as a graphic designer, writer, data capturer, etc. You will be required to set up a profile upon registration.

Once jobs match your profile, you will get a notification. It is then up to you whether you want to bid on the project or accept a project offer. To learn more about Freelancer South Africa, visit their website. 

Spend less money on junk food

Even though takeaways are convenient, especially when you are a student, it will take a huge chunk of your money. It might seem boring or time consuming to cook your own meals, but it can actually be a lot of fun. Look up quick and cost-saving recipes online. You can also cook in bulk and freeze meals for the week. If you still live with your parents and they do the cooking, join them at the dinner table and save your money for more important things.     

Set up your own budget

Learning to budget for the month ahead can save you a lot of money. People often think that living on a budget means no fun, shopping or takeout. They are dead wrong. Living on a budget actually allows you to enjoy much more, without the worry of running out of money before the next payday.

As a student, your budget can look something like this:


Amount of Expenses

Total Monthly Income

Studies/Student loan



Travelling expenses









Entertainment/Social life



Parental contribution



Personal savings








Money left: R600

Remember, this is only to give you an idea of how to set up your budget. You can add more expenses and work out your own savings plan.

We hope that these cost-saving and money-earning tips will help you manage your college lifestyle better. If you want, you can also do your own research online for more information on how to survive on a college budget.

Look at budget templates, student discounts and part-time online earning opportunities.