Debatable: Should students prioritise saving?

Debatable: Should students prioritise saving?

Debatable is a column written by the Otago University Debating Society. The Debating Society welcomes new members and meets at the Business School every Tuesday at 6pm.

For: Annabel Rhodes

When students think of frugality, we often think of two minute noodles and timing our flatmates in the shower. But saving money doesn’t have to be that extreme; there are plenty of other ways that we can reduce spending. If you declare “I’m so broke” before dropping hundreds on shopping hauls or online gambling, there are some pretty clear starting points in your saving journey (writing this in my new Glassons fit).

Conscious spending doesn’t mean you have to give up your social life either – although training yourself to drink less can go a long way (being a lightweight has been pretty amazing for my bank account). Cutting down on the Uber Eats is also a pretty effective way to save. If your food is going to make a reappearance later that night, you might as well save the money and have toast. 

As Albert Einstein once said, compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. While the money you save now might seem marginal, if invested it could actually make quite a big difference down the line. Using an average market return of 10%, the money you invest should theoretically double every 7.3 years. This means that every year you wait, you’re wasting valuable time. The money spent on that Glassons corset or extra box could get you an iPhone 63 Pro Ultra Plus or an upgrade to your Neuralink brain implant in 45 years. 

We live in a world where money is not only power, but also stability and peace of mind. In all seriousness, women and minorities are much less likely to be encouraged to invest, and the wealth gap often gets overshadowed by the pay gap. Personal finance isn’t just for BCom bros. Even if you plan on living out your life as a TikTok tradwife, building good money habits now is one of the best ways that you can look out for your future self.

So, the next time you avoid looking at your bank statement like the list of readings you still have to do, or complain about being poor while sipping your 20th latte of the week (speaking of, if you know any good Starbucks alternatives lmk), remember that your youth is the best time in your life for more than just consumerism. Just make sure to get your financial advice from a trustworthy source, and not the crypto bro who lives next door. 

Against: Abby Bowmar

So you’ve deprived yourself of some of life’s greatest joys, during the best years of your life – now what? You’ve graduated with a KiwiSaver to make Michael Cullen proud, but your bones are already aching and your hairline has long since forsaken you. Sure, maybe you can buy a house, but you don’t have memories of splurging on RnV to warm you as you whither into middle age. Is that really the life you dream of? 

Take that $20 out of the latest coal-burning cryptocurrency and live a little. Throw caution to the wind and buy an oat flat white at Dispensary every day, or treat your flatmates to that eco-friendly laundry detergent. Cash out your course-related costs and book a carbon-neutral Euro summer, or fill up your car and check out the Catlins. There will come a day where you won’t live in the best city on earth with most of your friends and bone density, and all the compound interest in the world won’t bring that back! Anyway, if you really want to save money in the long run, keep in mind that treating yourself to an electric blanket, some veg, and the odd trip to the dentist will pay dividends in a decade.

The elephant in the room: not every student who counts their pennies does so just because it’s fun to cosplay poverty at uni. If your parents can’t bail you out when shit hits the fan, then it’s true that you should try to put some money aside each week. But also go easy on yourself! Don’t let anyone tell you that the reason you don’t own property is that you want to make New Year’s plans, and don’t beat yourself up for making the weekly shop at New World rather than Pak’nSave. 

It’s true that overconsumption won’t make you happy, and that your spending habits might just be propping up the Fortune 500 and fucking the planet. But there’s a balance to be struck here. Don’t spend your life trying to be the richest guy in the graveyard. You can’t take your Sharesies with you when you die, and a term deposit won’t make up for your twenties.

This article first appeared in Issue 9, 2024.
Posted 10:12pm Friday 26th April 2024 by Annabel Rhodes and Abby Bowmar.