Once finished Uni, most YoPros within New Zealand have the summer to themselves and begin working in the New Year. Hanging over the heads of most YoPros in GenY is Debt!! This post describes how some how I slowly but surely made my way out of debt and as my last post stated, left that behind. I now look ahead to what debts I have to come.
My girlfriends Grandfather had extreme foresight to build their family a batch at Whangapoua. The place is majestic right up high on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. The house that stands is the quintessential kiwi batch, the wall paper has so much character, the tales the front deck could tell and with two bedrooms and a couple of foutons it has everything one could want in a place by the sea. It is such a privilege to be allowed to go here made even better by getting to experience something that is so important to my girlfriend. The beach itself is beautiful soft white sand and will often have a row of shells along the low tide line.
This low tide line about 200m from the dunes reminded me of how it felt to leave Uni a year and a half ago with no real possessions, $2000 overdraft, an $86,000 student loan and a piece of paper to show for it. Now this is not to complain about where I was, I chose to be here, I chose to go to Uni. And relative to many countries I was not too badly off. Lucky for me my parents were extremely supportive, they helped me with extra money on a weekly bases for food; playing rugby meant food was a crucial element in my life, despite money from my parents, working weekend jobs, student loan payments, a couple of scholarships, working hard in labour intensive jobs through summer and in the final year a greatly appreciated student allowance, no matter what my financial status was, my balance was always zero and it always read supermarkets, sushi, or cafes/dairies and if I’m honest a fair deal of take-away was also present. Again this is no complaint, living like this for 7 years has taught me a valuable lesson, taught me that I can survive and taught me how to budget from week to week, even if that budget was always exhausted. Those years of living in over-priced, dingy and cold flats will be what I will look back on as some of my fondest years. However if entering the job force I looked at my surplus point like looking at the high tide line that day at Whangapoua, there was potential to become somewhat depressed about the great distance I had to travel to reach my goal. With each set of waves coming in the the tide appears to make progress on the beach only for it then to recede and appear to be right back at the low tide line again.
This was much like starting work finally at Specsavers Riccarton in Christchurch. A new Optom grad is ranked as the second highest paid graduate so I knew I was in a good position, however when the reality came to it, by the end of the second week, when it had come time for pay day number two, I didn’t feel like I had made much process, I was still standing just above the low tide line with dry feet, staring up the beach at what was still a long way to go. I became some what obsessive to this always checking my balance, feeling guilty and apprehensive about every spend, every little outgoing, I would lie awake at night tossing and turning doing sums and projections in my head thinking about how long it would take until I would be free. This was not a good way to be. Debt is everywhere and it was time to accept that I had it and that it was not going to be there forever. Talking this over with the likes of my brother, I came up with a way to prove to myself that this was only temporary and out came excel (Working Budget Template) . I created columns for Pay, for rent (which included bills) and then what I had left to spend and of coarse what I had left at the end. I extrapolated this to the end of the year, according to this I would no longer be in debt by then and I would also have some money to start doing some things I had always wanted to do which being a student could not allow. Apprehension was gone and life went on.
See if you only consider time point A, with where you would much rather be, then there is no context to what is the reality Its very black and white and quite depressing. As GenY, we have the ability to be mindful about what the world around us has to offer, but at the same time, no help from social media, we can also get caught up with what we aren’t doing, and where we are not and this is what brings us down. Here’s a link to an excellent article which I have read a few times and gives you that much needed reality check many of us GenY often need http://brightside.me/article/why-generation-y-is-unhappy-11105/ .
If you consider your journey out of debt like the tide the task of leaving debt becomes less daunting and is more easily accepted. With each wave the tide ebbs and flows; in the space of 10 minutes there appears to be no change, but over the space of a few hours, the tide is all of a sudden halfway up the beach, the waves can come in with greater power, but may also recede a little further only to rush in again. As you become more established there are less things to buy, to get set up and more space to spend your hard earned cash on enjoying life whilst still overall the tide is moving forward. Something I did begin to notice is the further out of debt I became the more comfortable I was with a wave moving out because I new that it would soon come back in again. Much like at high tide the waves begin to calm again, you begin to feel good about what you’ve achieved and begin to have that feeling of what GenYs strive for; a sense of purpose, a sense of accomplishment on your own back and that sense of relief of no longer being a burden. The trick is to try avoid that common GenY downfall of being impatient, which is most likely a reflection of our digital upbringing and ability to have things at our fingertips.
What is important to remember in this age is that as a young professional, the tide is going to go back out again, buying a car, buying a house, travelling are all going to require some source of debt to get on the road, but as these are about investment and not purely about what value is in your bank account these new debts, like the changing tides should be ones that are accepted. Having now got to the high tide mark, I am excited to continue on not being a burden, and excited to begin to make something of myself. I now look to the challenge of trying to enter the property market in NZ and currently stand with only a small patch of kiwi-saver to my name, its time to start watching the tide come in on a deposit.
Often your bank will have handy tips to try help you out of debt, for example ANZ has their Money Minded Monday page aimed at giving you little tips on being savvy at reducing your debt https://yourworld.anz.com/social-good/nz-money-minded-mondays-spending