File photo: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

While a student’s university years can be the most rewarding of their young lives, the expense required can break the bank even before the academic year begins. Here’s how to avoid the ‘varsity cash blues’.

From laptops to appliances for ‘res’ and even desks on which to study, there will invariably be a significant cash outlay that students heading for varsity – as well as their parents – will need to consider as the journey begins towards an academic future.

In an already over-stressed economic climate, this is not the time to lay out large sums of cash, or rank up credit card debt, when gearing up for either under - or postgraduate studies. It’s far better to find solutions to manage expenses in an affordable manner, preferably over a period of time, that will also be able to accommodate any changes in circumstances or requirements.

One such solution would be to consider rent-to-own model that enable parents to purchase electronic devices, appliances or even furniture on a month-to-month contract.

Jonathan Hurvitz, Chief Financial Officer at online retailer, Teljoy, elaborates: “This is one significant way to avoid long-term debt while still purchasing the type of quality, brand-name products that will hopefully see a student through their entire academic life, as they set themselves up successfully for their all-important future careers.”

The model, which allows one to pay monthly amounts for the rental of items over a period of time with the option to own or upgrade them, also takes into account that circumstances can change along the way: “Consumers who take advantage of our model are able to upgrade, downgrade or even cancel their contracts at any time, as their personal financial circumstances or needs change.”

“In other words, unlike a credit agreement which can really lock you into a commitment for a number of years, there’s financial flexibility as well as flexibility in staying up-to-date with factors such as technological changes in terms of cell phones and computer equipment, for example.”

Parents opting for this model of buying can also use the opportunity to educate their children at university about the all-important skill of budgeting, believes Hurvitz: “Using a service such as the one we offer, and obtaining everything you need via one supplier, allows you to work out exactly what your monthly payment will be.”

“Plus, because one can source everything from laptops and printers to the appliances or furniture needed for studying or for student digs, having only one account of this nature that covers all the big-ticket items needed also makes budgeting easier overall.”

Indeed, heading off to study can be the best time to begin putting a number of excellent budgeting and other financial habits into place, notes Hurvitz. “If a working  student takes a contract out in own name, and manages it correctly and responsibly, it can be a form of developing good financial habits.”

“In other words, make being money-wise part of your education,” says Hurvitz.

Hurvitz advises to extend the experience to other aspects. For example, when going out at night, take only cash rather than using a credit card. Be aware of loyalty programmes that offer money back for points collected, or entitle the card holder to discounts.

“Or, if you’re ordering goods and services online,” adds Hurvitz,  “select ones that have a free delivery policy or one written clearly into the agreement, or that have newsletters that you can sign up for, like we have at Teljoy, that enable you to learn about special deals as they happen.

“Being a student these days is stressful enough, for both kids and their parents, without having to worry about every month end.”

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