This is how and where Students spend their Money

The 5th Annual Student Village Student Spend Report reveals details on how Students of 2017 are spending their money and what they spend it on.
The report was based on a national online survey with a sample of 3 249 students and quantitative focus groups with students representative of South Africa’s population.
A total of 85% were black, 6% coloured, 6% white, and 3% Indian and Asian. Of those surveyed, 26% were in first year, 27% second year, 28% third year, and 19% fourth year. Further, 28% lived on campus, 32% at home, 23% in accommodation, 17% were renting, and 1% owned their own property.

Student spending is all about brand ‘Me’

The overarching conclusion of the report is that the student of 2017 is focused on brand “Me”, with that focus influencing their other spending decisions.
In 2010, the brands students wore played a pivotal role in their lives but, in 2017, the brands students select are done so carefully so they convey who they are. In 2010, students were keeping up appearances but, in 2017, students are expressing who they are as individuals.
Some of the headline figures for 2017 showed:

  • Students were, on average, spending R32 568 a year;
  • South Africa’s 985 212 students had a combined annual spend of approximately R32 billion;
  • Student spend-per-month saw a slight increase from R2 702 in 2016 to 2714 in 2017. If inflation is taken into account, this is a negative increase;
  • Clothing and footwear spend has almost tripled since 2015, from R491 a month, to R1 361 a month in 2017;
  • Two in three students have a retail card or credit card and use their credit facility as a back-up;

A total of 29% of students have credit cards. Among those card holders, 30% had credit cards with Capitec, 23% with Standard Bank, 23% with ABSA, 18% with FNB, and 18% with Nedbank.
Among the other categories included in the report, selected insights showed the following:

Money sources

  • 85% of students sourced their money from family and parents,
  • 29% through full or part-time work, and
  • 24% through bursaries and sponsors.


Students are saving on average R326 a month, or 17% of their income. The primary reason students are saving is to buy experiences and they are saving for short term goals.


In terms of spending per month, from highest to lowest, students were spending the following on:

  • R4 068 for home loan repayments;
  • R2 400 for rent,
  • R1 616 for extra tuition,
  • R1576 for car repayments,
  • R657 for motor insurance,
  • R646 for fuel,
  • R554 for housing services and stationary supplies,
  • R546 for groceries,
  • R456 for personal care,
  • R446 for entertainment,
  • R232 rand for pay TV,
  • R232 for alcohol,
  • R220 for takeaways, and
  • R110 for airtime and data, among other spending categories.

In terms of potential market share, clothing equalled R15.3 billion, computer equipment and technology R7.9 billion, personal care R5.1 billion, airtime and data R4.7 billion, alcohol R2.6 billion, and pay TV R2.6 billion.

High-value purchases

Cellphones rank as the top annual high-value purchase students make, with Samsung (49%) being the dominant brand, followed by Huawei (15%), and Apple (11%).
Premium clothing is second, with stores such Cotton On, Factory, H&M, YDE, Markkham, Zara, Topshop, Forever New, sportscene, and Woolworths being where students buy their clothing.

Online shopping

Online shopping is a further reflection of the students of 2017 placing a premium on experiences and on themselves. A total of 40% of student online spending is on clothes, with travel and electronics both equalling 22%.
The most popular online store for students is Computicket at 43%, followed by takealot with 38%, Mr Price with 22%, Mr Delivery at 22%, UberEats at 14%, OLX at 13%, at 11%, Zando at 9%, and ticketpro at 9%.
Interestingly, students saw online shopping as that which leads to an item being delivered. They believe in-app purchases and off iTunes music, for example, are not necessarily examples of online shopping.