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May 16, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial – Money

My parents raised me to know the importance of hard work and the value of money. They also taught me never to dismiss a potential ‘get rich quick’ scheme without first ascertaining that it won’t in fact get you rich, quick.

Mum and Dad have variously floated ideas of owning a motel; starting up an emu farm; importing plastic-covered fabric tablecloths from the UK; finding the last moa and “touring” New Zealand with it; and battery-breeding macaws in the sleepout. Sure, they’re half-joking—but if someone offered Mum big bucks for her encaustic artwork, who’d be laughing then?

Their enterprising attitude has manifested in me as a love of ‘free money’, where one maximises income, not workload. Time-and-a-half at work, annual tax back, selling something on Trade Me for more than you spent on it, Instant Kiwi wins, Christmas cash from relatives, a promotional $20 boost to your TAB account—all are an unexpected but welcome boost to the bank account. Just today, I sent a copy of my driver’s licence to unclaimed.monies@ird.govt.nz to see if $358.14, owed by Inland Revenue to one E Hunt, is owed to this E Hunt. What can I say—cash rules everything around me.

Having said that, it’s just as well that I look out for such opportunities, as halfway through next year, I’ll become the one thing more lowly than a Media Studies student: a Media Studies graduate. I’ll have considerably less disposable income than I do right now, and I’ll be faced with the prospect of paying back a $20,000 loan. Moreover, despite having ostensibly maximised my earning potential with a tertiary qualification, I have no guarantee that my employer will recognise this—if, that is, I manage to secure a job worthy of my newly-minted degree at all.

In fact, the future’s not shining bright-brassy-bucks for any of us. Uther holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Theatre, and he genuinely believes that the nominal amount we receive for editing Salient is the most money he’s going to make in his lifetime. And the outlook’s not much better for students with more focused qualifications—a law graduate will be seeking employment in just as competitive a market as a philosophy major.

It’s something of a Catch-22: spend thousands of dollars on a degree to get a decent job, find there are no jobs going to pay for the degree. The Government’s short-sighted approach to tertiary education funding is at least partially to blame for this hole we’re in. The increasing cost of uni means most of us are forced to juggle a job as well as study in order to live. By pursuing higher education, we’re resigning ourselves to getting into debt, but with no guarantee that a qualification will give us a leg-up in the job market.

It’s not the best of situations, but we’ve got to make the most of it. Focus on learning skills that could benefit you in whatever position you might find yourself in. Get involved in clubs, Salient, the VBC and other extra-curricular activities to maximise your employability. Be flexible, be open to new opportunities, and be on the lookout for free money. Keep on filing those tax returns, and keep on hustling.

Diversify your bonds,

Elle

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About the Author ()

Elle started out at Salient reviewing music. In 2010, she wrote features and Animal of The Week, which an informal poll revealed to be 40% of Victoria students' favourite part of the magazine. Alongside Uther Dean, she was co-editor for 2011. In 2012, she is chief features writer.

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