Getting that first job

Colin Anthony
By Colin Anthony October 15, 2019 10:00 Updated

Getting that first job

Congratulations, you have secured your first job. Now it’s time to put your adulting skills to work and start being savvy with your money

By Timothy Sithole

I’m a newbie to the world of work and find myself tasked with teaching myself how to save money – and taking over this Tax-Saving South African column from Mayo Twala has focused my mind.

At varsity things were so much simpler. It was possible to earn money but of course, spending it was much easier. With all the responsibilities of trying to be a grown up, things are now different and I’ll attempt to share my experiences so far with some advice on how to keep it all together.

Saving money at university is an attainable goal and if you manage it well, you would have done yourself a tremendous favour. If you didn’t, it’s something you’ll wish you had done, because once you’re officially unemployed, life’s expenses come from nowhere and you find yourself needing cash for graduation expenses, buying new work clothing and enough to get you to those job interviews to put your qualification to work.

These are all the things I did not think about at the time, but fortunately I have learned and for those still studying, here are a few tips to generate cash:

  1. Get a part-time job. There are numerous jobs that you can do as a student. I found that social media was useful to find work opportunities. Because I interact well with people and start conversations, I found a part-time job as a social media promoter. I’d earn R1 000 to R2 000 a month. I used the free wi-fi at res to do all this, so I eliminated data costs, and voila, 100% returns.
  2. Find something you’re good at and figure out how to make money from it. A friend started a braiding business working on weekends, charging far less than her established competitors. It brought in enough money to sustain herself and having happy customers means free marketing and more customers – word of mouth is the best business reference you could have.
  3. Seek out opportunities in your area. Another student noticed that carpets are difficult to clean and most res buildings do not offer cleaning services. So he simply bought a vacuum cleaner and charged to clean their carpets.
  4. Then there are the typical student jobs: waitressing/bartending, babysitting or instore promotions. Pursue these relentlessly: apart from earning you cash, they improve your “employability” when applying for that first job.

To those who recently landed their first jobs, congratulations: you have one foot in the door and it’s time to prove yourself to your employers by repaying the faith they have placed in you. But more importantly, you also need to prove your financial fitness.

I’ll be tackling that in more detail in future columns but here’s one important thing to get you started:

  1. Open a tax-free savings account as soon as you can. You can learn all about TFSAs here but, briefly, it allows you to save up to R33 000 a year and all your returns are free of tax. This is a big deal: it’s not often that government voluntarily withdraws it’s greedy clutches from any area of the economy but it introduced these tax-free accounts to instil a culture of saving and address SA’s notoriously low level of savings.

Take advantage of it – it should form the basis of any future investment plans. And remember, any amount is better than nothing at all. So save as much as you can today, even if it’s only a little. Times are tough out there and living expenses are climbing – so also sponge off your parents for as long as you can. Hopefully they will live for a long time so that one day they can get revenge by being a financial burden on you!

None of this is easy but in this series I’ll provide guidance so that together we can be a formidable force towards being wiser, tax-saving South Africans.


Colin Anthony
By Colin Anthony October 15, 2019 10:00 Updated

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