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‘Everyone doesn’t have to struggle alone’: Budgeting, investing focus of workshop

Monday 9 October 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Economy, National


‘Everyone doesn’t have to struggle alone’: Budgeting, investing focus of workshop
Cook Islands National Youth Council secretary Selane Tairea, left, with Kiesha Dais, facilitator for financial workshop Dreams to Dollars: Make Your Money Work For You. Photo credit: Joanne Holden/ 23100810

Teaching young people and families how to thrive, not just survive on the Cook Islands’ minimum wage rate of $9 per hour, is the goal of those behind a workshop about budgeting and using money wisely.

The Cook Islands National Youth Council (CINYC) will be hosting a free, interactive financial workshop called “Dreams to Dollars: Make Your Money Work For You” at Arepua Gateway Church in Avarua, Rarotonga, from 6.30pm to 8pm on Wednesday.

“Investing time into your financial well-being is an investment in yourself, your family, your future, and your peace of mind,” CINYC secretary Selane Tairea said.

“I wish there was a resource like this when I was starting out – when I was trying to shuffle my money everywhere to figure out the best actions I could take, the basics of budgeting, how to live my best life and not stress.

“I’m still learning.”

Tairea, 23, said the idea for the workshop was born as CINYC hashed out its strategic plan, noticing a knowledge gap between leaving school and entering the workforce.

“We were trying to come up with ways to ease the transition, to make it seem like it wasn’t such a huge jump,” she said.

“A financial workshop was just one of the ways we came up with. We thought, ‘What do we wish was taught to us in school to help us become adults?’ Because us adults, we’re winging it 90 per cent of the time.”

While the workshop was aimed at youth, anybody keen to learn “how to be smart with your money” was welcome to come along, Tairea said.

“There’s a lot of spaces where we just give people information, but you walk away not knowing what to do with it. It leaves people with problems, not solutions.

“Hopefully, this workshop is one way to give you the tools and the confidence to take action and make the most of the pay you get.”

Tairea said it was “definitely” possible to get ahead on minimum wage in the Cook Islands, which rose to $9 per hour in July this year, but “only if you work smart”.

Her number one tip was to “prioritise your money and be disciplined”.

“Also, connect with someone whose lifestyle you aspire to have and aim for that”.

Running the workshop will be former CINYC member Kiesha Dais – an accredited financial mentor as well as a student voice facilitator for Massey University in New Zealand, who has returned to the Cook Islands for a month-long trip.

“It was an opportunity to give back to CINYC, to partner with CINYC and help them achieve their goals and their dreams,” Dais said.

“One of the pillars of their current strat plan is business and well-being, which go hand-in-hand.”

Dais discovered “a lot of people struggling on minimum wage to make ends meet” when she volunteered to give one-on-one budgeting advice as part of a fundraiser for Takuvaine Netball, inspiring her to start Budget Creators.

Her hope for the workshop was “starting the conversation” about how to thrive on the amount of money coming into a household, rather than simply survive.

“It’s an opportunity to have conversations with like-minded people within the community. It’s knowing everyone doesn’t have to struggle alone.”

Workshop goers would also be connected to resources and pointed towards people in Rarotonga who could help, she said.

“There are supports out there.”

Dais said registering for the event on Facebook would put a person in the draw to win two lots of $50, which could hopefully be turned into “something more”.