Budgeting is always a difficult discussion to have. We all have different needs, and we’re saving for different things. Perhaps you’re leaving enough spending money so you can buy tickets to a gig on Friday night. Or maybe you’re genuinely worried about getting by each week. While we can’t speak for everyone’s needs, we’re here to empathise with the difficulty, and discuss the reasons why your needs aren’t being addressed.
Just being able to wake up in your own flat is already enough of a challenge. Entering the Auckland flatting market seems to be akin to entering medicine from first year biomed. In this week’s issue, our Features Editor Naomii Seah takes a look at the cheapest flats in Auckland. While it’s interesting to consider what constitutes the lower end of the rental market, it’s also distressing to know that some students have to resort to these conditions.
Then, from the moment you step out the door in the morning, your first enemy appears (ten minutes later than scheduled) in the form of Auckland Transport. A fare increase earlier this year has seen some trips increase in price as much as 10%. Living away from home, many students don’t have an alternative for modes of transport. For those who have access to a car, they shouldn’t be pushed towards the sky-high cost of CBD parking.
When you get to uni, the situation isn’t much better. A routine of packing mason jar salads had dissipated around Week 3 when everything in your fridge went off and your packed lunch spilled all through your bag. Vendors in the campus centre entice us with Bubble Tea, Fried Chicken, and Butter Chicken Hot Chips. Why the University chooses to be complicit in providing students with costly and low nutritional value options is beyond us. Shouldn’t it be responsible for providing cheap, nutritious food stalls to students?
Many of us wish to be conscious consumers, making sure products aren’t sourced from slave, sweatshop or prison labour, and from environmentally sustainable and ethical sources, while being as waste-free and leaving behind the smallest carbon footprint possible. But once you purchase your bar shampoo and a bamboo toothbrush, that’s half a week’s worth of groceries out of your wallet.
On Thursday, minimum wage will be rising to $20 per hour from $18.90 per hour. We don’t know much about money but even though this hike seems like a positive step for us, it’s still indicative of our financial wellbeing that minimum wage is not matched with living wage at $22.10. With many students, us included, working at minimum wage, it’s no surprise that money stress is a defining feature of what it means to be a student.
Ultimately, this demonstrates a pattern of neglect for the financial difficulty of students, and the eventual compromise proves to be student wellbeing. So yes, if money can buy us a place to call home, time away from commuting, nutritious kai, professional mental health support, and enjoyment with people and things that fill our cup, then money can probably buy our happiness. That’s capitalism, baby.
Eda Tang (she/her) and Brian Gu (he/him)
Co-Editors of Craccum 2021