Quick query. How much is a dollar worth?
You must be thinking, “wow Daniel, that’s a stupid question. O’Week must have totally fried your brain.” You are only half right because it is an excellent question. A dollar today will not be worth the same as a dollar in 15 years, because in 15 years you will no longer be a slightly broke student worried about the price of hand soap. You will likely instead be raking in some sweet Bachelor of Arts graduate cash, and while the monthly repayments may sting, it won’t hit nearly as hard as the lack of funds to keep your heated towel rack sizzling through the biting Auckland winter.
This is the magic of diminishing returns. Diminishing returns is a simple but elegant economic concept. It explains how each extra unit of consumption or possession is actually worth less than the previous units. And unlike a standard loan, don’t worry Arts students, the math is extremely simple; it’s interest-free! Each dollar you take today is literally only one dollar you are taking from Future You. If you really want to scam the system, take out as much as you can, and immediately dump it all in your KiwiSaver. But that would definitely ruin the fun. Right now, you are the youngest you will ever be. At this point in your life, you are the most deserving of a little extra spending money. Future You, with a salary and a mortgage, is both incredibly privileged and too responsible to use that privilege to have any fun. You should take Studylink’s money. Buy yourself something pretty.
While Joe might try to seduce you with straight talk and cynicism, I know the mind-altering power of BuzzFeed-style lists. Please enjoy this selection of lovely things you could spend your student loan on:
– Incredibly chunky sneakers with light-up soles
– City Limits tickets
– Fish and chips, with extra tomato sauce
– Your AfterPay debt
– DebSoc membership
Look, this one is on you.
When you’re in your twenties, and you don’t have any money, student loans don’t feel like real loans. There’s no debt collection agency on your back, the bank isn’t leaving messages on your phone threatening to break your knee-caps, and you don’t have to pay back anything meaningful until you get a real job. You can start to think that your loan is an issue for Future You, and rely on that version of yourself to sort out the mess you begin to make.
When you’re battling through 3-5 years of uni, course-related costs can be earmarked for festival season with little to no stress. You were never going to buy the textbook for that class anyway, and you’ll get more out of your cash downing cider in the sun.
But, just like waking up in some random guy’s tent at R&V, there’s always a hard come-down.
Once you start earning, your student loan wrecks your lifestyle – 12 cents in every dollar goes to the Government until you pay off the loan. So if you earn a typical grad salary of $50,000 a year, then you send our ‘public servants’ off to have $6000 worth of cocktails, a flat in Mission Bay, bottomless brunches, and a trip to Bali. Drink up, Jacinda! It sounds like a shit deal until you realise it’s actually all your fault for fucking around for a couple semesters ‘finding yourself’ and ‘living through experiences.’
It might seem rough at the time, but if you pass your papers, study the papers you need (don’t just head to ones that have a hot lecturer), and don’t take all your living costs when you haven’t left home yet (just so you can unload on drinks at the weekend), you’re setting Future You up for success. You could be sitting in a nice flat, 5 years from now, flicking through a photo album, just thanking yourself for your hard work and dedication. And for not fucking up your liver.
The last thing you want is to be the poor friend who can’t go on holiday with your mates at 28, because your student loan drains your payslip every fortnight. Shadows could probably do without that $30,000 you were thinking of taking out for ‘living’ costs. Give yourself a chance of owning a house (lol imagine), or owning a dog, or owning your friends with your responsible attitudes as a youngster. Work hard, play sometimes.