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Comment: What uni has taught me about money

This time last year I had just begun a part-time job that temporarily halted an increasing slide into debt and financial turmoil. Despite this, looming overdraft disasters coupled with dodgy loanshark funds threatened to end my studies at LSE entirely.  Now I work for and alongside multiple startups and businesses while undertaking my studies, generating a far more stable income for me at university. Whilst this money, of course, is not as much as a usual finance or consulting salary, and I am still pursuing a ‘usual’ graduate job, my journey has taught me transformative things about money that can’t be unlearned.

The first of these is to relentlessly pursue quality sources of money.  As will come as little surprise to many LSE students, who are in the midst of applying to more than 50 jobs for internships: success is found both in the intensity and breadth of one’s search. However, the quality of what one finds must also come into play. At first, I would take joy in niche transcribing tasks, and now, after writing CVs, cover letters, filling forms and being interviewed, I am able to make more than fifteen times what I made in such prior jobs.

The second thing I learned is never to treat yourself, and to only ever buy what is necessary. This is not to say one must live an ascetic lifestyle: paying to go visit family is necessary, whilst an expensive wrap from a café can often outweigh a home-cooked meal due to the opportunity cost of time. Yet too often money is frittered away needlessly. Unless your clothes are broken, you do not need new ones. Healthy food can be bought very cheaply. Going to coffee shops have no health benefits aside from getting you hooked on caffeine.

The final money tip concerns passive streams of income. In many facets of life, one’s power lies in one’s ability to walk away from things that begin to become a negative influence. If a particular job, or relationships within that job, cause you undue stress, then there is no better situation to be in than have other jobs to divert one’s attention which may even be more lucrative. As well as mitigating risk, diversifying one’s income streams can also compound earnings by presenting new opportunities to develop and see further money flow in. Whilst what I earn is not fully ‘passive’ (I do not earn royalties), there is a beauty to the freedom in knowing that there is no need to budget if I am relatively sensible with my funds.

Whether beginning the local paper round at sixteen to save up for a bike, or planning on becoming a landlord whilst working in finance, issues surrounding money are central to our wellbeing and happiness. Money is not everything, but the capacity to earn it to a satisfying degree can powerfully change one’s enjoyment of life. It is liberating, empowering, and the choice to earn and use it in a disciplined manner can transform one’s future forever.

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