Each year, MAS encourages graduating students to take part in a financial review with a MAS Adviser, where they set out their financial goals and plan how to achieve them. Everyone who took part in 2021 had a chance of winning $2,000. This year’s winner was Tom Harsant, a recent Massey University graduate who now works as a vet near Nelson.

By the time Tom Harsant received his lab coat from MAS in the third year of his Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Massey University, he was already focused on one financial goal: home ownership. Tom knew he wanted to buy a house once he graduated, so he prioritised saving for a deposit while he was studying.

Now working as a vet in Stoke, near Nelson, the 24-year-old is happily settled into a home that he and partner Sam bought in November 2020.

“Sam is a vet too, and she was a year above me in her studies. She graduated first and found a role near Nelson, so 2020 was all about trying to secure a job down there. I was stoked when I landed my job at Town & Country Vet halfway through the year, and then finding the right place for us to buy was the next priority.”

MAS offers free consultations to all final year students to discuss their financial goals, which Tom says was great because of how tailored it was to individual goals. “For a lot of us, this was talking about how to manage our money when we start getting a salary. I knew I wanted to buy a house, and that my first pay cheques would be going into the mortgage and renovating our place.”

Tom also discovered home ownership comes with new insurance needs.

“My MAS Adviser Debbie Guest talked me through all the options for house and contents insurance and how to choose the right one. She wasn’t just plugging MAS – she helped me figure out what was right for us,” he says.

While he was studying, MAS also ran courses on financial management and professional skills for vet students, covering things like budgeting and negotiating pay rises.

“They helped us understand the ins and outs of buying into an existing business or setting up our own as our careers go on. We learned about how to interpret a company’s financial data and understand areas that could be improved,” Tom says.

The Grad Campaign prize went towards new blinds for the kitchen and bathroom and travel costs to Palmerston North for his graduation celebrations in May.

Tom’s advice to students is to think clearly about their goals before they graduate.

“As cheesy as it sounds, goals are the most important thing. Have a think about what you want to do with your money before you actually start getting a salary."

"Most students have a couple of months between finishing studying and starting work, so make sure you have a buffer for that period.

“If you know what to do with your money beforehand, you can put it straight towards your goals – whether that’s buying a car, building up a deposit or waiting for the borders to open to travel.”

Students can sign up for MAS’s Join the Conversation to get study and life hacks, budgeting tips and health and wellbeing advice delivered straight to their inbox. They also get put in the draw to win prizes each month. Visit mas.co.nz/jointheconversation or text JOIN to 3118.