budget · life · Money · self-publishing · student-teacher · studying · The Lovely Boyfriend · university

When your income dries up

So, I’m a full-time uni student (well, more than full-time really seeing as my course is overloaded! Most uni students do 4 subjects a semester – in my course we’re doing 6 each semester, essentially cramming 3 semesters worth of work into 2) this year.

Between my placement (working full-time in schools for 30 days) and the crazy uni load, I don’t really have time to work – I could probably manage one day a week (say, a Saturday or a Sunday) but finding a job that will allow you to do such limited hours is rare… bit easier if you’re already in the job and want to reduce, but most jobs I’ve come across want you to be a tad more flexible when they are initially hiring you.

So, since I started the course I’ve been relying on the generosity of the Australian government for my income via Austudy. This brings me in roughly $1000 a month, for which I have been very grateful.

However. They have pretty strict rules on how much the guy/gal you’re living with earns and will cut you down/off depending on their income.

I know anecdotally of a lot of couples who haven’t declared that they’re de facto (“we’re just housemates!”) because while they may be ready to live together, they’re not ready to be dolling out pocket money to the other person.

Which is the situation I now find myself in.

I’m a pretty honest person most of the time, and because I’m sponsoring The Lovely Boyfriend to be in Australia and in a years time we have to re-prove that we’re in a committed relationship to the Australian Government so that he can get his full Permanent Residency, I couldn’t exactly lie to the Australian Tax Office or Centrelink…

Now The Lovely Boyfriend earns just over the threshold. As in just. Like if he earned $50 less a fortnight, I would still get my own money (at least a little bit).

But alas. It is what it is.

I know it is totally fine with him, he does not mind at all to pay all the bills, all the rent, my phone bill, all the groceries, give me money so I can take public transport to get to uni… but… but… I don’t like it. At all. Firstly, it leaves him with bugger all money. Secondly, I can’t buy any small luxuries because I feel too guilty. Coffee at uni with my friends? Nah. Turn the heater on coz I’m cold? Nah. Buy that new book from my favourite author? Nah. And we’ve always been a couple who splits things pretty evenly. It was easy at for the first few years – we both earned almost the same amount of money at our respective jobs. Now, I just feel guilty because I’m not contributing financially any more.

Even with my “measly” $1000 a month, I could at least chip in on the rent, pay the internet bill, pay my mobile phone bill, buy half the groceries, buy myself a coffee once a week, pay for my Myki transit card… that extra $1000 household income REALLY HELPED. Without it, things are going to be extremely tight. There is no way that he’ll be able to visit home to see his family this year, unfortunately 😦 I really think it’s important to go home in the first year you’re away from your country, but it’s not looking likely. He has a good friend coming to visit in November, so hopefully that will be enough.

I think I just feel a bit embarrassed. I’ve been financially independent for a long time, and now I’m completely relying on my boyfriend. It’s an odd switch. I know a lot of couples do that, but it’s new (very new) for me.

The good thing is that it’s only temporary (I hope). I will be going away for 5 and a half weeks on rural placement in a few weeks, but when I get back I will start to look for a part-time job. I’m not overly optimistic that I’ll be very successful in that endevour because of my limited availability, but come November I will have finished the course for the year, and will be completely free.

In twisting it into a positive, this should hopefully make me take my publishing career more seriously. I really need to get more material out there. I have so many ideas and WIPs, I need to finish some of them.

Sold 20 copies of my novella this month, for about $16 profit (a mix of $0.99 and $2.99 at 70%)… not exactly enough to retire on!

If I start taking this more seriously, I think I could turn it into a proper income stream. I hope.

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