Many South Africans struggle with their finances. Last week Friday, UJ invited its students and lecturers to a lunchtime conversation about students’ personal, financial literacy.
Here are some of the best discussion points that came out of that engagement at the Gcina Mhlope Amphitheatre.
1. Students cannot be expected to practise financial literacy when they don’t have any money to save.
When people are earning or receiving only enough money to pay for their essentials, saving their money can be seen as inconceivable.
One of the attendees at the event, who identified himself only as Bonolo, spoke out on the impracticality of savings and financial literacy for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
As he pointed out about 65% of students at the university depend on NSFAS. “How can students have financial troubles when they do not have finances?” he asked.
Bonolo said that a monthly allowance for students in need could alleviate the problem and allow them to practise financial literacy and learn from their experiences.
“Without that money, it’s futile to tell them [or] to lecture them to save,” he said. Bonolo hoped that in the future such discussions would attract larger numbers of students to participate and gain practical skills.
2. Studies in accounting and other financial subjects do not prepare students for the real world.
The discussion was led by Boniswa Madikizela, a Charted Accountant and Senior Lecturer at UJ’s Accountancy Department.
Madikizela said she wanted to “make a noise” about the personal financial literacy of students when she started conducting research on the topic in 2015.
In conducting her research, Madikizela discovered that what students learn in class does not necessarily translate into how they deal with money in their personal lives.
“Our academic program teaches the concepts of financial literacy,” she said. “But they (the students) are only aware of these things if the questions are directed to a business,” Madikizela said.
She said students interviewed displayed a clear understanding of key financial concepts such as of income, money management, savings and investments.
“When it comes to the understanding of savings and investments, students demonstrated a high level of knowledge,” she said. Madikizela found that this high level of knowledge was mostly geared towards the arithmetic calculations would be used in a test. “When questions involved [them] articulating your real-life experience . . . lights out.”
3. You need to be “stubborn” and stick to your plan when budgeting.
“I find that budgeting means being stubborn around what you say you want,” said Boniswa Madikizela. She added that students need to make a habit out of saving a portion of their money.
She gave the example of a hundred to make things simpler. “Twenty rand of that hundred, I’m saving it. What I’m saving it for I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I’m just literally building a behaviour,” she said.
It’s okay to have expensive taste but you need to be smart about it. “If you know you like the finer things in life it’s okay to look for bargains that will fit around your eighty rand,” she said.
4. Always remember the 5F’s.
“When I give financial planning now I talk about five things,” said Mashudu Munyai, a Charted Accountant and Founder of Mushudu Munyai Financial Services, a Financial Services Provider.
The five F’s include “fun, freedom, finance, family and faith,” Munyai explained. “If you use that it balances everything in your life.”
“Finance means you don’t spend until you have the money. For you to be helped on how to handle money you have to budget,” Munyai said.
Munyai also spoke about how prioritizing your health can be a good money saving decision. He mentioned that alcohol and cigarettes are some of the luxuries that students can cut out of their budget.
Munyai said that comparing the price of essentials in various stores is a great way to save money. Munyai’s solution is one of the key pieces of advice that the South African Savings Institute offers to South Africans amongst other things.
5. We need an “intellectual coup”!
Conrad Mmotsa, a BCom Accounting student, echoed Madikizela’s sentiments of making a noise about financial literacy.
Mmotsa suggested that subjects such as Financial Literacy and Critical Thinking should be taught from a high school level all the way to university standard.
He felt that an impact can be made when institutions of higher learning create and implement radical changes in their delivery of intellectual knowledge. “I feel like we should run a coup, an intellectual coup rather towards finances and the economy,” he said.
Mmotsa questioned the exclusive focus on personal finances. “It seems like a capitalist system that we’re building in the sense that ‘If I’m okay then automatically everyone else will be okay’,” he said.
Considering the reception she got from the audience, Madikizela told attendees that she hoped to have more events like these in the future. TOJ