• I’m no political commentator – I’m gonna keep this short.I was really pleased to see the Herald feature a couple who were being penalised due to the stupid Work and Income rules about benefits for couples. And then today the shit hit the fan when it was revealed he was a landlord with three properties, dismantling the image of him as a regular honest bloke just trying to get by.

    Labour really have not treated this well at all, calling for universal benefits. They should have known National would pick up on the angle of “partners of six figure earners taking advantage of the system” and run with it. They should have discussed some sort of limit, which they’ve done now – far too late.

    You know what I think of the welfare rules for couples. I can honestly say that day, finding myself standing in front of the old lady at WINZ reception crying because I was frankly at the end of my rope, and didn’t know what the hell else to do because our country had failed us, was quite possibly the lowest point in my life. Being told that working and studying disqualified T from any assistance – didn’t matter if I quit my job, or dropped out. That I was expected to be able to support two people on less than one fulltime minimum wage. Dismissing the thought of applying for him as a single, because not only would that be lying, it would be damn hard to manage given our shared bank account. Considering the possibility of having to break our lease and millions of subsequent hassles, on top of a full, third year class schedule.

    Seriously, the paper could have found tons more deserving people who DON’T own multiple houses to feature. Just check out the TradeMe message boards. There are always stressed, worried people in there wondering if they will be able to get any assistance with their partner working. (One of the reasons I stopped visiting the employment board). Not people with high earning spouses. Just ordinary people on low to middle incomes trying to get by amid rising food, utility and petrol costs.

    Even if Burgess’ rental properties are mortgaged, he still has more options than some other people. I’m not saying it’s easy for him, or that owning property should disqualify him, or means he should be rolling in it or anything. Home ownership is expensive. But ideologically he certainly is not a good illustration for this debate, as we’ve already seen in the backlash. Poor guy.

  • It’s bleak out there

    Following up from yesterday, since we have a water bill to pay and I have at least two (maybe three) weeks off, in which I’m only working two full days, I thought I’d look around for any odd one off type jobs I could pick up. There’s really nothing on Student Job Search though (I remember back in 2007 when there were all sorts – helping out at expos, data entry, etc…) and theoddjob.co.nz is just full of scam ads.

    So I guess I’ll spend it relaxing, being with BF, cleaning the house etc, shopping multiple times a week on the scooter (no longer have access to car as BF’s brother moved out on his own…the car that I originally bought back in 2007 and then got rid of because the transmission died and couldn’t afford to fix..Yeah, I know…) and car hunting. Hopefully we can find one by the end of the month. Like I said, we can’t expect much for $1-1.5k, but I just really need it to last at least till the end of year when I can (touch wood) work full time and be bringing in more. I don’t want to rush into buying a complete dunger, and having this time off will hopefully help us make the best choice we can.

  • You know what’s crap?

    Building a cycleway the length of the country. (For tourism? Really? You trot that one out for whose benefit, exactly? I sure wouldn’t go anywhere to cycle down a strip of concrete in NZ, let alone overseas).

    Not boosting Work and Income eligibility. (If now isn’t the time, well, WHEN is? People need support now, more than ever.)

    Cutting tertiary funding. (You don’t wanna support us, and you don’t want us to further our education to improve our future prospects. Brilliant.)

    I feel totally vindicated by how I voted in the election, and stand by my decision.

    /end rant

  • To a Mr Bitter from Titirangi

    I was merrily eating my lunch yesterday at work and flicking through the paper. I landed on the letters page – which is always good for a bit of a giggle – and lo! a submission entitled Recession victims!

    According to this writer, the members of the “debt embracing, profligate generation X and Y still have their jobs by and large, so their income is intact. With interest rates dropping as a result of the recession, their financial situation has improved significantly.”

    Wahey! Wow. Something I might expect to see from the mouth of an American, but here?

    I think this person is just a LITTLE out of touch. It’s Gen Yers who are (among others, although not exclusively) being laid off. Last in, first out. Unemployment is climbing, and those with less experience and fewer qualifications are more likely to be let go, and to find it much harder to secure any kind of new job.

    By no means is the income of my household intact. And sure, interest rates are dropping, but this only affects savers and mortgage holders. My savings rate has dropped like a rock and is hovering somewhere around inflation level. But you know what? Credit interest rates are exactly where they were before the recession began, if not higher. Prime does not seem to affect unsecured credit, for whatever reason. I don’t know if this is a Downunder phenomenon, and quite frankly I don’t care to find out. I just know that’s the way it is.

    So please, KL Matthews, don’t tell me that my financial situation has improved significantly. And don’t deign to tell me that I will benefit from the recession. I’m going to find it harder to get a job after graduation, probably be taken on at a lower pay than I might have otherwise, and with fewer benefits.

    My partner may be the next spending three years out of the workforce, which we hope will pay off in the long term. If the recession hadn’t happened, odds are he would still be gainfully employed and at a decent living wage. But in the meantime, our “financial situation” has plummeted to depths I could never have imagined last year.

    Unfortunately, like many who started out with nothing, he does have debt. Debt that he was making progress on, and which has now been halted. Not huge amounts by any means. An amount that I compare to MANY other PF blogger and think well, gosh, that really is nothing. Why am I so stressed? Well, I’m stressed because even at a low level, it’s simply not serviceable for a laid-off person. I’m stressed, especially now, because we do not have a functioning car, among other myriad worries. (Great op-ed here about how the recession is hurting low socio-economic areas, btw, and some proposed solutions. I definitely don’t agree with them all but they’re fascinating! Especially about ensuring quality used cars so people can get around. I can’t stress enough how bad public transport is here. How many times have I talked about the bus service? And with the Govt. investing in the Waterview tunnel and a freaking “nationlong cycleway“, that’s not gonna be improving anytime soon. ). How long will it take to recover and get back on top? Neither of us knows. We’re both living in a state of constant uncertainty. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, not even you, Mr Bitter. Please remove the lemon from your mouth – you’re not the only one unhappy with the way things are, trust me.

  • Not looking hopeful….

    Trying to avoid sinking into a pit of total despair.

    Here’s how it’s been. Search through job sites everyday, monitoring anything new advertised. Figure out if it’s remotely plausible to apply for any of the new positions. Spend an age pulling together a CV/letter trying to highlight any relevant skills/experience, then hit send. Or, call the number, only to be toldthe job is ALREADY gone. Or, get no answer, but keep trying. Once you eventually DO get through, are told they stopped taking calls and answering the phone because they were so swamped!

    You can’t win. You can call the same day a role is put up. It’s still not fast enough! What to do, short of sitting at the PC 24/7??

  • Thoughts on a Sunday night

    There have been a lot of op-eds and columns about how 20somethings are being hit hardest by the recession. Last in, first out. Brought up with the idea that if you just worked hard you could get ahead. Thinking you should get a degree, find a job, buy a house. And how that’s just not true, and it’s all falling apart.

    I’m just glad we don’t have a mortgage.

    I know once we get through this, nothing will ever be the same again. I won’t take anything for granted. I’m going to be even more cautious than I was before. Nothing is for certain. Nothing is safe, nothing is assured, and it can all be taken away from you in an instant. Corps have no loyalty to you. All you can do is look out for yourself, be prepared for anything and pick yourself back up.

    I feel stressed a lot, and I freaked out today at the butcher’s because we had to keep it to $20 or less to stay under budget.

    It’s not like my card would have been declined or anything, but it would have been money we didn’t have.

    We got in at $21, and BF came up with a $5 bill from nowhere.

    “See? Now we’re UNDER budget,” he told me.

    Bless him.

    Please, let Work and Income DO something. DO their jobs and give him what he’s entitled to. $10. $25. $50. Whatever.Any little bit would help, and keep us afloat for longer. $100 would be gold. That’s about how much we’re falling short by.

    If this is being a grown up, REALLY realising that the only person with your best interests at heart is YOU….I don’t like it.

    As long as we can get through this.

    One step at a time.

  • I really can’t believe just how competitive the job market is out there. Check this out.

    O-I, one of the companies mentioned, were advertising really heavily online and in the papers. I can’t remember if BF applied or nor, but those are closed now and I think training commences this month for the plant to open next year.

    They received almost 1200 applications for 38 jobs.

    Competition is FIERCE. One of the temp agencies BF spoke to told him that they are FLOODED with qualified applicants, applicants who are coming back to work after being out of the labour force (for what reasons, I don’t know. Quality time at home? Living off the benefit? I don’t know, it’s beside the point really). Which means he’s pretty much screwed in his field, with ticketed and trade certed guys all over the show clamouring for the few jobs available.

    He’s hoping to hear back from a prospective employer this week. He was expecting to go in last week to look around, but there were so many applicants he won’t get a look in till later THIS week.

    This is for an entry level, minimum wage job…

  • Relatively untouched…

    Another little reminder this week of just how little everyone else seems to be affected by the economy. So we were in class, discussing media coverage of the situation and all of the conflicting reports – one minute it’s doom and gloom and doldrums for another ten years, the next the housing market has picked up and it will all be over by 2010….etc, etc. And the statement’s put out there: We’re all relatively untouched, aren’t we? Nobody’s felt the impact personally?

    Well, I sure as hell have! It’s had an ENORMOUS effect on my life – it’s been a driving force behind me and BF’s daily lives since November. That’s a long time. And it’s a lot of stress. So I just couldn’t let that go, and I said so.

  • Should you get govt. assistance if you have money in the bank?

    I was just browsing through the TradeMe message boards, in particular one thread wondering about how savings affect your eligibility for assistance.

    People were jumping all over the poor OP for scamming the system and ‘swapping tips’ on how to milk the govt, etc, etc.

    I think people have VERY different definitions of what constitutes savings.

    What’s a significant amount of savings? Should someone with $500 to their name be denied help? $1000? $2000?

    Even a few grand really doesn’t go very far. Bond for a new place, car repairs, school fees, emergency dental, visual or medical stuff.

    If we’re talking more like closer to the five figures, then that’s a bit different. And that’s why the asset limit for help with accommodation is $8000. It could probably even be lower IMO. But that seems fair to me.

    Posters on that thread also went on about getting off your ass and working, how there’s tons of jobs out there to be had if people would only take them.

    Uh, HELLO? Unemployment is rising. Most companies aren’t planning to hire, and instead are tightening their belts.

    Out of touch much? Whoever they are, they must have a steady job. Or be retired. Or something. They obviously aren’t out there jobhunting themselves.

    BF is going into Work and Income tomorrow. He’ll have to show what he’s got banked, but I hope they are not too short sighted to realise how quickly that will run out. I’m anticipating they’ll need more info, which will delay everything. They also want income details for the last year. Not really possible, and I wonder how many people actually manage that? I don’t have every single one of his payslips; at worst we’ll just bring in a year of bank statements. I also don’t get payslips at work. We sign into a site online, so I guess I’ll print some out. But again, I see no point in having a year’s work of info, as I obviously make much less during the academic year and don’t see how my extra income over the summer should have any bearing on the situation.

    Will let you know how it goes.

  • BF went into his old workplace this week, dropped off some stuff and picked up some stuff. His super expensive grinder wasn’t there. Luckily it’s named, and the boss knows it’s his and should be there somewhere…

    Apparently it’s dead there. No contracts, no work. Half of the staff were made redundant.

    Woop woop.