Managing your money

Being poor is one of the defining student experiences. Budget brands. Op shop clothes. Switching the plugs off at the wall. ‘Going out’ funds that run dry after a starter and corkage fee. Swappa-crates. Warning light on the petrol tank. Wearing beanies to bed. Walking home to avoid the taxi fare. 

And yet, despite all this penny pinching, at the end of the month there’s always a gaping hole where your money should be. On the days before your next payment, you find yourself raiding the back recesses of the pantry because you’ve literally got NO money left for groceries. Every month, you wind up feeling cold, getting hungry, going without. “I don’t know where it all goes,” you say.

The only way to find out is to graph it. Go onto your Internet banking and select a month – pick one without any random purchases or unexpected expenses. Look through each of your purchases and write down the 10-15 categories that they fall into – ‘Rent’, ‘Power’, ‘Phone/internet’, ‘Petrol’, ‘Groceries’, ‘Food/drinks bought while out’, ‘Alcohol’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Beauty products’, ‘Clothes’, ‘Stationery’, etc (your list of categories will reflect whatever you tend to spend your money on). Then, transfer the value of each purchase into one of the categories. Be honest: those daily coffees/energy drinks/muffins go into the ‘Food/drinks bought while out’ section, not the ‘groceries’ section!

Next, bust into an Excel or Word document and make a pie chart. Then look at it. Compare how the slices size up to each other. Look at the segments of the pie that are disproportionately fat. That’s where all your money is going.



By now, you should have experienced a range of tutors. Hopefully, you will have realised that some are awesome, and can be the difference between you just ‘getting by’ and succeeding in a course. Regretably, you’ll probably have also realised that some simply aren’t up to the job.

Tutors are a great example of my main point – that your BA is entirely what you make of it. Let’s look at my favourite tutor at uni. She was not only knowledgeable about the course; she was passionate about it. She didn’t just tell us what sorts of essays would get the best marks, she told us how she was using her BA every day to learn about the world. One day, she came into a tutorial wearing makeup, because she’d been asked to do a TV interview about the findings of her post-grad assignment. She was organised, helpful and – best of all – infectiously passionate about learning.

My least-favourite tutor didn’t seem to give a damn. She recapped the main lecture points with apathy. She never gave clear answers about what she wanted us to do in the essays, explaining that we would simply have to ‘work it out’ like she had been forced to. She groaned when we handed our essays in and she groaned when she handed them back, explaining with satisfaction that we had made all the mistakes that she knew we were going to make (presumably the same mistakes that she’d made when she did it).

These two tutors demonstrated to me that a BA can either be an opportunity to inspire and educate, or an excuse to be cynical and tired. It can be the best thing you ever did, or it can be a waste of three perfectly good years and many thousands of perfectly good dollars. It is whatever you want it to be.

So, no matter what sort of tutors you have, use them as an opportunity to reflect on what your BA means to you. Any tutor, inspirational or not, is an opportunity to remind ourselves what sort of BA graduate we want to be. So, rather than complaining about your tutor, show them why their job is a priviledge, and prove to them that a BA is first and foremost about curiosity, open-mindedness and empowerment.