Editor’s Note: Rachel is nothing if not resourceful. When it comes to doing something the cheapest way possible, she is an expert strategist, relying on her talents and strengths alone. But she recognizes that not all young women are as motivated and fortunate as she is, so she’s ready to give back. One of the most valuable hustling skills is knowing how to handle your finances, and Rachel believes it can be picked up by anyone who wants to learn.
I take absolute pride in being a “hustler.” As a young female living on my own, attending university, providing for myself and saving for my first home all while living on a shoestring, I have learnt over time to hustle like a beast.
To some people, “hustling” has an almost gangster-like connotation, but I can assure you I have never done anything illegal. To me, it’s about putting in all your time and energy and left-of-centre ideas to make money, save your pennies and get what you want.
My aim is to become a registered nurse and midwife, which requires a university degree. Trust me, I have thought about dropping out many times simply because it would be easier to work full-time, doing something I don’t care about, to get my house and achieve some of my dreams faster. Unfortunately, I value education and I also need it to fulfill my career goals. So what do I do? I hustle.
When I was working fulltime and living on my own, I learnt how to live off almost no money. My food bill for a month was under $200 because I only bought specials and items that I could turn into 25 meals. The only money I spent was on rent and bills. Fun things had to be free or I wouldn’t do them. Needless to say, I got very fit because exercise is free, and I even found public gym equipment at my local park.
I often employed the bartering system, exchanging my skills and labour for things I needed. When I needed a garden rake, I did hair and make-up for a special occasion for my mum’s friend and a rake was my payment (yes, I know it sounds ridiculous).
I also have made myself get many different skills over the years so that I can do what I need to do to get by. I’m an internationally qualified make-up artist (can also do hair) and a qualified dispensary technician for pharmacies, which I completed through a workplace traineeship so that it was free. I am also a freelance model, which has provided me with free trips interstate, payment for my work, clothing, make-up and many other items that help me get by. It has also given me skills in how to market myself effectively. I even do my own fake tan, hair and make-up for shoots to get a higher rate of payment!
It is my belief that females especially need to learn to be self-sufficient and provide for themselves. That being said, going back to study at university has definitely made things harder. I still hope to be in a position to buy my first home in the next 18 months, but we’ll see. When I was 18 I opened a first home saver account, which has a higher rate of interest than most accounts, but annual government contributions and interest does not get taxed. This is where all the money goes that I’m saving for my first house deposit.
I had to make sacrifices to go back to study. I sold my beautiful sv6 that I’d bought second-hand years ago and bought a little second-hand Getz to save on fuel and car insurance. I have bought all my textbooks from Gumtree and other nursing equipment from cheap websites to save. I sold all unnecessary furniture and items in my house and worked 60 hours a week over the summer to make sure I had savings. This included Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day. The hustler has to make tough calls to get ahead. I have found something oddly comforting in living the simple life. It keeps me focused on what my goals are and what is important.
When I graduate and go to work full-time in a hospital, however, I have a plan to give back. My idea is to start and run a foundation that provides scholarships to girls who are in my position, in their early twenties, providing for themselves and trying to make ends meet whilst getting a tertiary education. I will be the first person in my family to go to university and I really hope I can push through and complete my degree. It is my belief that when women have a tertiary education they are better equipped to do well for themselves in life, and it gives them many more career options, particularly if they need to take a break to start a family.
Learning to be self-sufficient is so important, but I also believe that assistance in times of need can be the difference between reaching your goals or dropping out to keep food on the table and rent paid. My scholarship would be offered to women who are undertaking degrees in the health sciences, nursing & midwifery, other sciences, engineering, business & finance, education, etc. Basically any field that can offer long term prospects and ensure a brighter future.
The scholarships wouldn’t just be monetary- it would also have a mentoring aspect whereby young women are taught basic financial planning skills, how to buy or rent a house, start a savings account, negotiate for a car, buy items that they really need second-hand, how to find bulk-billing doctors and cheap prescriptions, and teach other important money-based skills.
I have definitely learnt a lot of these things by myself, the hard way, over the years, and there are things I wish I could do over. Though I do believe that when it comes to food shopping on a shoestring for myself and my pets, I might be one of the very best. Pets might be an extra expense, but I rescue animals from shelters and it is not something I plan to give up to have a few more pennies in the bank.
Financial assistance in the form of a scholarship is definitely not as useful if it is provided to someone with no money management skills or real life financial management experience, and this is why I feel like my idea could offer something different. It may not have too much to do with my future career in nursing and midwifery, but the end goal is to allow women to get a tertiary education, empower their future through financial assistance and education and teach them how to look after and rely on themselves- because one day, they might need to.
This, to me, is the definition of hustling: Provide for yourself and do what you have to do to get by, and, eventually, get what you want. It is also why I am applying for this scholarship- to keep myself on track so that I can achieve all of this in the not-too-distant future.