Flashback to my years at uni, I was barely keeping up with assignments, lectures, tutorials, my social life, family, significant others, work and my Instagram feed let alone:
- Living in a different country to my entire family
- Living out of home, and the associated admin, time, stress and financial outlays that comes with it.
- Having to pay for my degree UPFRONT.
But that is just what mega-babe, Lisa Anderson, did. Chances are that if you live in Brisbane you have heard of Lisa Anderson or her fashion/lifestyle/kickass blog #EditsByElle. Her blog is focused around empowering women and boosting their confidence through affordable fashion #preach.
When I first started planning The Chronicles of Carly, I couldn’t imagine not interviewing Lisa. So to get to interview her straight off the bat was a dream!
Okay, enough of me declaring my love for Lisa and let me tell you what we are going to talk about today.
So Lisa’s backstory – she is a New Zealand citizen that left the comfort of her friends, family, country and came to Australia to chase that sweet sunshine. Coming to Brisbane definitely presented some challenges. To start with, Tauranga, New Zealand’s (Lisa’s OG hometown) cost of living is on average 17% LOWER than Brisbane’s with the cost of housing being a whopping 34% lower. Not only was Lisa well and truly on her own in a more expensive city but she had to foot the bill of her university fees upfront.
Note: Unfortunately for many of us it is too late to pay our tuition upfront and our HELP debts well and truly exist BUT it doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from Lisa and apply it to another aspect of your finances (or life).
What was your degree?
Bachelor of Creative Industries (majoring in Fashion Communications and minoring in PR and marketing). And that was through QUT.
How long did it take you to complete your degree vs the ‘standard time’?
So it took me…. It was meant to be 3 years and it took me 3.5 years.
I actually did a year of uni in New Zealand and I wasn’t able to cross-credit it. So they gave me ‘advanced standing’ which just meant I had the prerequisites met to do this course. So I had already done some of the subjects but they made me do it again, wicked. That was one of the most frustrating things.
Can you give us a ballpark (you don’t have to give specifics) of how much your degree cost? For example, My HELP Loan is sitting at $23,790.19 as of September 2017 #Vomit.
That is confronting seeing a number like that. Mine would have roughly been about that. Basically, I paid $4,000 to $5,000 every semester and that was due within the first 3-4 weeks of the semester. This was because I wasn’t eligible for any HELP loans or anything being a Kiwi.
$4000 to $5000 every semester?!?! How?!
So that was literally me doing whatever I could, at that point. I had three part-time jobs at that point. By my second year in uni, I was actually hired by the recruitment agency I was sourcing temp work through. So I went in and did some admin work for them and that ended up being a full-time job.
For the last 18 months or so of my degree, I was working full-time. I had a really helpful partner at the time, if we went out for dinner he would generally pay and he also subsidized the rent. Without him, it probably wouldn’t have been possible. It was definitely a matter of not spending anything, not having any sort of social life, just knuckling down and getting it done.
I just dived in head first and just had to make it work.
And it was shit and it did suck. But I had this visualization of me on graduation day, in the gown and I had my mum there who flew over from New Zealand. And when that day actually came I was just kind of like ‘well this is really surreal!’ It didn’t feel like it was actually happening. To be on the other side of that, it was just this incredible feeling of relief.
Did you ever think ‘f*** this’, and want to go back to NZ to study?
They basically would have given me the same thing Australia has here [the HELP system].
There were definitely times where I thought that that [going back to NZ to study] would have been ‘easier’ but once I left New Zealand I never really looked back. For me, it just seemed like such a natural progression. It didn’t really seem like ‘omg I am moving to another country,’ it just kind of felt like I was moving next door. Even now when I go back I think ‘gosh this place is tiny.’
How the h*ll did you pay for university upfront?
Literally just sacrifice. Everyone talks about having this sort of balance but when you are in a situation like that you don’t really have the ability to have balance. You would have the occasional night out and that sort of stuff but it was just about really focusing on what I was trying to achieve. So that meant I couldn’t go out and get on the piss every weekend and spend all my money because I literally didn’t have any. It was really just about keeping my eye on what I wanted to achieve and working towards that.
“I will have the house sav.” – #QuoteOfEveryDay
What did your lifestyle look like at the time? You weren’t going out as much, you weren’t working out as much?
Well, I was working out from home. So that would have been when I had my ‘me time’. So the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body and those sort of things where you could have a program and do it yourself. But now that I have been to a group training environment I honestly don’t think I would have the motivation to do that again. And finding things that worked, like going to the markets. I originally started going because it was much cheaper and then I realized ‘hey I really freaking love the markets.’ It was about making a lifestyle more achievable. Going out wasn’t really a thing for me. I was just a real homebody. Again, there is a dollar-figure on everything and I just had to be really mindful of that. That was a sacrifice I guess I had to make to get where I wanted to be.
You also saved up for your dream trip to New York in this time, what?! How?!
That would have only been in the last couple of months of my degree and that I had a little bit of time in between finishing uni and going. I just saved as much as I could. It was a really spontaneous thing to actually go. It was something I had always wanted to do. But I remember sitting at my computer one day and I was just having a really shit day. And like ‘I am just doing it.’ So I went online and found really cheap flights and thought ‘the only thing that is stopping me from doing it is me, so let’s just do it.’
I remember doing it and I just started crying I was so happy. I was going somewhere I had always wanted to go. And I was going by myself. And I was going on the first sort of adventure on my own. It was after university. It was after my partner and I since broke up. I was like ‘I am this independent woman, omg!’ and just burst into tears. It was amazing!
*sorry we then disappeared for a good 30 minutes ranting about the dangers of Afterpay* #Joking #NotReally
Okay now that you are clearly the queen of set-a-goal-and-achieve-it….
What would be your advice to anyone out there in debt or wanting to achieve a serious financial goal?
I guess it would be to plan. So having a look at what it is you are wanting to achieve or how much you are wanting to pay off and then working backwards from there. And making a plan about how you are going to do it. That makes a world of difference.
You look at that big sum and think ‘oh god, I am going to have no life ever.’ But if you break it down into little segments and action plans then it just makes it so much more achievable.
There are going to be sacrifices involved but if it is something you really want then you will make it happen.
What are your top 3 tips for anyone that wants to achieve a kick-ass financial goal?
So definitely planning ahead. For me, visualization is a huge thing! Just constantly reminding yourself of what you are working towards. And just have an understanding that there are going to be times that it freaking sucks but remember why you are doing it.
Obviously, Lisa is one incredible woman that you want to learn more about. Luckily you can! I also talked with Lisa about how she crams so much into her weekly schedule (seriously, the new saying should be “You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce, I mean Lisa”)
Thank you so much for reading, now put your phone down and go smile at a stranger.