You’ve scored a job! Gone are the days of that ‘look’ from your parents when you ask to borrow money for those concert tickets. But we’re already busy. How do we fit a new job in with everything else? Emily Warwick troubleshoots some part-time work conundrums.
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Working hard to earn your own money is a great feeling, as is chanting ‘Independent Women’ by Destiny’s Child as you strut away from a grinding 11 hour shift (and the group of customers that came in 5 minutes before close).
But you can’t always just pick up extra shifts: existing school/uni/life commitments can make the juggle very real.
Finding a balance can be hard, but with some planning you can have your Instagram shot of avo on toast and eat it, too. Let’s troubleshoot some common work/life conundrums.
Take a minute to get on top of things.
Firstly, it’s great that you have realised you need to look after yourself. It might feel counter-intuitive, but take some time out to plan your time. Work out your immediate priorities. Can anything be put on the back-burner? Use a diary to map out your commitments from now until the end of semester/term.
Block out the time you DON’T have.
If you’re over-stretched you won’t do yourself justice at school or work. Having some down-time by relaxing, binge-watching some TV and hanging out with friends is essential.
Problem: my study load leaves me NO time for work.
You may need to rely on your holidays.
Breaks are a great time to put down more availability, to have flexibility to cover shifts and work weekends (getting those sacred penalty rates). If you’re roughing it student-style and have to cover heaps of your own expenses like food and accommodation, consider options to reduce your study load.
Yes, this is a tough call. Reducing your study load means it will take longer to kick your goals. But if you keep your eye on the prize and can support yourself more effectively while you are studying, you will get there.
Problem: my manager at work isn’t supportive.
Ask yourself this:
Is it a communication thing?
Be realistic and honest with your manager about your availability; uni timetables can be so unpredictable! Ask them for a proper time to chat. Trying to have a conversation about this stuff is hard when you are both running around and distracted at work. Finding a boss who is willing to work with your schedule of homework, assignments, exams and classes can make a big difference to your work/study balance.
Problem: work vs. a sudden tsunami of assignments.
You know you won’t be able to work?
Do your boss a favour and give plenty of notice. Even better, find someone to cover your shift. You might not earn much for that week, but if you’ve put aside some cash from previous shifts you can buy a block of celebratory chocolates when your assignments are done and dusted.
Problem: my cashflow is seriously unpredictable.
One week you could be feasting on oysters and the next boiling water for two minute noodles.
Embrace it, but plan as much as you can around your changing cashflow. In fact, forego the oysters. As Rhiannon Robinson advises below, save a third of your income each week. You’ll start to build up a savings fund that will come in handy when buying a first car, going on holidays, getting THAT dress, or buying those super expensive textbooks.
Problem: my job sucks. The [insert here customers/shifts/tasks] are horrible!
Can you shift your thinking?
Try to focus on the positives.
Aside from some cashflow, having a part time job is a great way to create new friendships with workmates. In fact, you can bond over your experiences dealing with ‘can-I-speak-to-the-manager’ customers. And a really positive spin? You’re learning valuable skills in dealing with… erm… ‘difficult people.’
Making it WORK
We asked Rhiannon Robinson, founder of Finance Women for her top tips to make your part-time income sttttttretch!
Do a rough estimate of your expenses and set up a couple of different bank accounts, one for bills, one for day-to-day expenses and one for fun. Have your pay allocated between them (or set up a direct debit); that way you reduce the chance of you accidentally spending your rent money on that fancy new pair of boots.
Don’t just blow the money from your tax return on a new phone or spend the cash from your extra shifts on a big night out. Make a pact with yourself about how you’ll spend any extra income that you earn. For example you might transfer 1/3 extra money to your fun account; 1/3 towards saving for something you really want and 1/3 towards your emergency cash reserves.
Don’t be afraid to talk money with your friends. If you are struggling to afford the night out, say so. You might have to sit out on a particular event, but why not suggest an alternative, less costly option for next time. Friends are often relieved because they are feeling the pinch too. By starting to talk about money, you might find you have a lot to learn from each other.
Being able to talk openly and honestly about money without embarrassment is a brilliant foundation for future financial security and independence.