Managing debt as a new graduate

    Earning your first pay cheque after years of studying can be quite rewarding, but this is also a time to start charting a stable financial future.

    “Graduates who have just entered the job market this year will, for the first time, experience a drastic change in their finances. That’s simply because moving from a monthly allowance to a salary is a big shift in terms of cash flow, however it must be managed properly. Earning a salary is quite liberating but if not well managed it could lead to financial problems,” says Eunice Sibiya, Head of Consumer Education at FNB.

    Sibiya shares some of the most common factors that often lead to financial difficulties for graduates:

    Not working on a budget: Good money management starts with knowing where and how your money is being spent so a monthly budget is important to ensure you track your monthly spending. Without a detailed budget plan, it’s difficult to track your spending patterns. Failure to plan can lead to you running out of money before pay day which can potentially result in you borrowing to survive until pay day.

    Peer pressure: following the latest trends, and trying to keep up with friends can be costly, because it often leads to a life you cannot afford which ultimately leads to financial strain. It’s better to be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot afford. Never try to match up to how other people live their lives because everyone’s financial circumstances differ.

    Impulse purchases: not planning your purchases has a direct impact on your budget, therefore you should consider planning your purchases and avoid impulse buying so you do not buy goods that you don’t need. Avoiding impulse purchases will help you plan your purchases and save for the items that are really essential.

    Not having an emergency fund: an emergency fund is designed to cover shortfalls when an unexpected expense occurs such as a medical emergency or car breaking down. Such expenses can have a huge impact on your finances and if you don’t plan for them you might end up having to tap into debt to cover the costs. Therefore, it is advisable to create an emergency fund with at least three to 6 months of your monthly income.

    “While it is understandable that moving from a monthly allowance to a salary will have a huge psychological shift in terms of your cash flow, it is important to be financially smart from the day you start working to be able to have a secure financial future. Have short, medium and long term financial goals and be disciplined,” concludes Sibiya.