The Financial Reality of South African Students.

The South African student embarks on a journey seeking a tertiary education carrying their parent's hopes and dreams on their back, only to be immensely discouraged by the dismal reality of youth unemployment and slow economic growth in the country. The youth unemployment rate is 63,3%, people between the ages of 15-24 years old (StatsSA, 2021). After reading those numbers I further realised how integral it is for the youth to cement a financially literate present, in order to live a financially free future. Basically, we need more WhatsApp group chats that centre around saving, budgeting, investing and disciplined action instead of unfulfilled holiday trips and WhatsApp stokvels.

Soft Living vs Safe Living

Around 27% of university graduates in South Africa are in jobs that do not directly relate to their studies (Mncayi, 2021). Given that unsettling statistic, it would be in every student’s best interest to increase their financial literacy and actively practice the skill set required to supplement an uncertain future, career-wise. In order to ensure soft living in the future, you need to practice safe living in the present.

The Journey to Being a Financially Literate Student in SA

‘Do not save what is left after spending, instead spend what is left after saving.’
-Warren Buffet

What are your options? Well, a concrete combination of learning how to budget your money and saving it through investing will go a long way in establishing a culture of financial literacy. The knowledge is out there so normalising statements like, ‘me I don’t know how to save’ are the exact words that will keep you on the wrong end of financial dependency. For instance, the platform Easy Equities offers you an opportunity to put to work your acquired knowledge (through books, YT videos or research) about investing.

SBWL i-soft life? then start saving. The road to this financial freedom promise-land is not a quick-fix scheme, if that is what you are looking for then DM Jackie Phamotse and ask her when the next Hockey Club convention is. It takes practice and discipline to reach an honest level of commitment where you for instance save 10% of all income you receive (stipends, girl/boyfriend allowance or pocket money). I am aware that, ‘entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone but I know for sure it is for anyone. We all have the opportunity to explore that as a way of building generational wealth, regardless that growing up it was not instilled in us as young South Africans.



Just like any adolescent on this planet, more so in this country, you are responsible for your own future. The financial reality of students in SA is of great concern, the promises of us being a developing country ironically do not come with prosperous hope for the youth. Despite the barriers that limit our involvement in the economy, I believe we have it in our own capacity to take command and control of our own destinies. Do not be afraid to make calculated risks today, for that is what will reap beneficial rewards tomorrow.

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Author: Lwandile Zuma

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