Klarna: What's the Cost of "Interest-free"?

We all know students are pretty skint most of the time, so when I see ASOS, Pretty Little Thing and Missguided parcels constantly being delivered to my house, you can probably see why I might think “amm, where the HELL are you getting all this money from?”

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Then comes a wee envelope in the post from Klarna. *ding* And it all makes sense.

Y’all probably know what Klarna is anyway, but if you don’t, it’s basically a payment service company thing (to be exact) that lets you buy things now, and pay later. But, you don’t have to pay any fees or interest unlike most credit payment company things. I should’ve written their marketing material, I know. 

So, you can see why it’s become insanely popular recently (even though Sweden’s been using it for like 15 years). It’s obviously really handy for emergency purchases when you genuinely can’t afford to pay upfront, or if you can’t afford to pay back with interest.

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But, I don’t know, I’m not really sure I like the whole idea. Yeah, LoOk aT mE being contrary, wouldn’t be like me!!! But hear me out, read me out, whatever.

A couple of Klarna’s wee tag lines are:
“Buy what you want, when you want”
“Shopping the way it should be – effortless, safe and fun”.

See, the thing is, I know it seems like it’s for people who are short on cash and NEED something, but if you look at the major retailers who support Klarna – and if you look at their website, the whole thing’s pretty much targeted at people who want to buy clothes online. 

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I know that Klarna is obviously a hell of a lot better than those payday loan companies that charge you like 800% APR and get people into a massive cycle of debt. But, it still encourages the same behaviour. It encourages people to just go “ooh sparkly top, click click, mine” (in the very sophisticated manner that we speak in) without worrying about how much it actually costs. Or how they’re actually going to afford it.

I’m not saying that people who can’t afford clothes right now shouldn’t be able to buy them; but my guess is a lot of people that use Klarna are students and other people who aren’t exactly minted, but still want nice things. I just don’t like the whole idea of encouraging people – who mightn’t be able to afford to – to live above their means and normalising “not worrying about the price”. 
Normally, a big obstacle to you buying clothes when you really shouldn’t or can’t, is that, well, you can’t. But now, you can. 

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You won’t just use Klarna as a “one off”, let’s be real, you’ll just start using it more and more often. Then, have the dolla taken out of your account on payday or at 3 different stages sometime in the future. But, “that’s future me’s problem”, although it’s pretty much my mantra in life, isn’t a healthy attitude to have when it comes to spending.

“Buy now, pay later” things are great when you need something, or even if you just want something, like yasss treat yourself, live your best life. But, I don’t think it’s great to promote this attitude and behaviour as something we should do for all our purchases. Especially things like online clothes shopping. Just because you “want” something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should get it. 

I know there’s no debt involved, but it still normalises debt-inducing (? I’m gonna roll with it) behaviour. Having a care-free attitude to money is just dangerous for people who aren’t that good at budgeting, saving or saying no to “40% off”. It’s fine if you’re good and responsible with money, but what if you aren’t?

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Yeah, you got £200s worth of clothes and didn’t have to spend a penny. YET. What happens in 2 weeks when that £200 plus your pair-of-boots-money and your new-fluffy-jacket-money are all coming out, and oh look, the gas is running out, or, the landlord’s coming for rent. What then? The money is still coming out, and not necessarily when you’re in a better position. You know what you have right now, and you might know what you’ll have next week or after payday. But, life does this beautiful thing called “MESSIN WITH US” and throws all kinds of spanners in all of our works. 

“Oh, I forgot I bought that”. “Okay OOPS I didn’t realise I spent THAT much”. “Have I still not paid that off”. Having small bite-size payments or delayed ones just means people will get a false sense of security of what’s actually theirs and what they owe. Let’s be real, they’ll forget they’ve scheduled payments coming out until it’s too late.

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Lemme just clarify: The problem isn’t Klarna, and it’s not “buy now, pay later” (and it’s not me either before you get smart). The problem is promoting this “make it rain” attitude, when you’ve got no water.

Under Pressure

I hope you read that in the tune of the ‘Queen’ song. If you didn’t, go back and try again.

Cheers.

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You better look like this.

ANYWAY. Final year is a pretty pressure-filled year.

Exams. Assignments. Dissertations. Trying to get the most out of your student discount before it runs out. Not to mention the constant STRIKES.

Then, once you get past all that, there’s the ~small~ issue of trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life and actually get a job. Agh.

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We have so much to be doing, and we’re stretched pretty thin as is. The last thing we need is people pressuring us to apply for jobs.

“Uni should be your main concern”, but “you need to apply for jobs while you’re still at uni.” “It’s important to look after yourself and wind down in your spare time”, but, “in your spare time you should be writing CVs, cover letters, applications, interviews, psychometric tests and assessment centres”.

Great.

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“If 1 USD = 2 GBP, how many Yen can you get with 5 EUR?”

A lot of people might want to join grad schemes, fair enough if they do. But, I think a good amount of students apply for grad schemes because they feel pressured to get a job sorted ASAP and start work like the day after graduation. Being realistic, we’re going to be working until we’re 75 at this rate (if we’re still around like, @global warming). So, what difference does it make if we start in July, or December?

Why is there so much pressure to jump straight into the job market, which is a mess anyway? Thanks again, boomers. Once you start working, it’s pretty hard to stop. It’s not as easy to take a ‘career break’ and head away off to Canada for a year, as it is to head away off BEFORE you start working. Get it out of your system and then settle down to serve capitalism for the rest of your life. Dream big.

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“3 more years til I qualify for state pension”

Apparently the average millennial has 14 jobs in their lives, and the way “careers” work is changing. It’s no longer the norm to start a job after you graduate and stay in it for 35 years. People move about. People have several jobs in several years. And that’s okay. Nothing stands still. We’re always told how “fast-paced” and “dynamic” the world is these days, so why should we be expected to stand still and stay in the same job forever?

The reason people might leave a job after like 6 months or a year might be because they haven’t a notion what they actually want to do, but this sure as hell isn’t it. Maybe if they spent a bit of time thinking about it and figuring it out after they graduated, they’d go into a job they actually wanted and liked and stay there for a bit longer. I think it’s better to wait a bit until you actually have a baldy what you want to apply for, rather than applying for the sake of being employed, and then being unemployed again pretty soon after because you hate your job.

So, being honest (my strong suit), chances are whatever job we start after graduation, we’re gonna quit eventually. I know, that’s the spirit, Niamh! Positive thinking!

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I just don’t get why university’s pressure you to get a job ASAP when you’re going to be working for like the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Can we not have a bit of fun before we do the whole 9-5 thing? What about holidays, travelling, and just having a geg in general?

I know we’re told that good jobs get snapped up pretty quickly. But, like, there’s always new jobs? Someone will quit their job (or be sacked), someone will get pregnant and go on maternity leave, someone better will go on paternity leave (like he goddamn SHOULD), and someone will retire. Someone else will take a career break and head to Benidorm for a few years, or maybe they’ll win the lotto (even though we know that’s fake). So, JOBS WILL COME UP. There will always be MORE JOBS.

It’s not like placement where you have a tiny window of when you can work, when you start a job and how many months you have to work there for. In final year, your window is like 40 YEARS BIG.

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I am Daniel, y’all are Betty

I’m personally a big believer in crossing bridges when I get to ‘em. So I think that applying for graduate jobs once you’re, well, an actual graduate makes sense. No point boasting about what you MIGHT get, why not boast about what you DID get?

Plus, spending hours and hours on applications etc instead of that time on your dissertation?  No thank YOU. What if you go travelling for a couple of months and ‘find yourself’ in Thailand (standard) or have an epiphany of what you want to do? Doesn’t taking some time to figure it out make more sense than blindly applying for jobs?

Then again, this is just a big justification for me not applying for anything. I think I’ve successfully convinced myself, even if I didn’t convince you.

Do it “for the CV”

Let’s start this on off with a wee joke, shall we?

How do you get a university student to do something?

– Tell them it’ll look good on their CV.

I really should be writing for Christmas crackers, what a waste of my gift.

Anyway, not much of a joke because 1) it wasn’t very funny and 2) it’s true. How many times have you done something, not because you really wanted to, but because “it looks good to have” or you “need something” on your CV?

The “CV” is that lil carrot of bait that teachers, lecturers, parents and employers dangle in front of students’ noses when they think we should or want us to do something. And it works. There’s no motivational tool like telling us it’ll help us get a job or make us look impressive to whoever we’re trying to impress, when we don’t even know who that is.

It’s sad, but we do a lot of things that we do and spend a lot of our lives trying to look impressive on a piece of paper. A piece of paper that defines us by 1) how “smart” we are and 2) what we’ve “achieved”. A piece of paper that potentially determines what we do for the rest of our lives.

So what have we “achieved”? Well what are we meant to have achieved? We have no idea what we’re meant to have accomplished at any stage of our lives. Who decides what we need to accomplish? And who says we have to accomplish anything?

We haven’t a BALDY what we want to do or what we’re meant to do, so we enter a panic mode and do things purely for the sake of doing them. Purely for the sake of having an extra bullet point on that list that determines how worthy we are of being considered for a job. No harm, but I doubt climbing a mountain and camping for 3 days is really gonna see me landed as a CEO like.

We’re told from we’re in school that we need to “stand out” and have that “edge” on other people. Other people like our peers, colleagues and friends. We’re pretty much told to view everyone else as competition. But like, what are we competing for?  We’re all different. We’re doing different things, we want to do different things and we want to work in different places. So why are we ‘competing’ with each other? Why are we supposedly measured by the same criteria?

We have to do something that hardly anyone else has done, because pretty much everyone’s done the same things. But, we’ve all done the same things because we’re all trying to stand out, and the only way we can stand out is by doing the same thing that everyone else has the option to do. So because everyone tries so hard to be different, we all end up being the same. Yeah, I’d to re-read that to make sure I followed it, too.

I think it’s great that we’ve loads of opportunities and chances to try different things and get experience, and we should give them a go and make use of them. We should be encouraged to do whatever we have to do so we can do whatever we want to do (even if we don’t know what that is). But, we should also be encouraged to have fun and live our best lives before we’re too old or committed to be able to. Like, yeah work experience is class and all, but we need life experience too.

There’s just a lot of pressure on young people to “get ahead” and “get experience”, when we don’t have a notion what we actually want to get ahead or experience in. So, we don’t really spend the time trying to figure it out, we just make use of all these “great opportunities” and hope we’ll have an epiphany along the way. Still waiting on my wee light bulb moment. Gonna come any day now, just you wait and see.

Every uni student ever

Now, I’m not saying we’re all robots who do things we don’t want to do just for make our CVs a bit snazzy. But, the reality is, we do a lot of things just to improve our chances of getting a job. Because we’re pretty much conditioned to think that getting a “good job” is one of the most important things in life. But, what is a “good” job? High pay? Holidays? Job satisfaction? Casual Fridays?

We decide. We get to make that judgement on whether a job is “good” for us or not. So, why don’t we get to decide what experience is “good” for us to do? “Good” means something different to everyone, so why does it mean the same thing when it comes to a CV?

Yeah, you get judged off what you’re like; your personality, your likeability and how you’d “fit” into whatever you’re trying to fit into. But, before you even get a chance to be judged on what YOU are like, you’re judged off what that piece of paper is like. It’s a bit like online dating, you’re not gonna swipe right or meet up with someone who’s got a really cringey bio, are you? They could be an absolute geg and maybe even your soulmate, but you’ll never know because you wrote them off based on “6ft 2. Here for a good time not a long time ✌️”. That’s us, judged on whether or not we’re an employer’s “type on paper”. Literally. How shallow, pffft.   

So, no wonder we spend so much time and effort doing things not just for ourselves, but for a piece of paper, too. Because, we’ve spent most our lives believing that we’re not much more than that piece of paper.

Week 0

Well lads, I’m back without popular demand.

I took a wee 6 month break from blogging which I’m sure you noticed. To be honest, I was just flat out doing other things. I had placement, a placement report *shudders*, holidays, starting a new job, getting a new house and Money Heist to watch; but I’m back (yay). I was writing down wee blog ideas on my phone as I came up with them, just never made it much further @comittment issues. But, since I had my uni induction this week, I thought it just made sense to get back into the swing of things again now.

So on Tuesday I had my final year induction. I went because well 1) I’m paying 4 and half grand a year for uni so I’m determined to get my money’s worth and 2) it’s been like 18 months since I’ve been in uni so I needed a wee refresher course on what it actually is. Plus, I wanted to go for coffee with uni friends after (to reward ourselves for that one hour of actually thinking).

How did it go? Well, remember my previous blog post ‘Reasons I’m Excited for Final Year’ ? This induction was more like ‘Reasons I’m Scared of Final Year’. Firstly, I completely forgot the most terrifying thing about uni – the roll call. Deadly. Voice broke, knew it would. Not the best impression of me after not seeing me for over a year- that girl who talks like terminator.

Also, dissertation? Yeah that wee gem. We were told we have to submit a wee proposal of what we want to do it on by week 2. As in, 2 weeks from now. Not going to lie lads, I thought that was like Christmas-time carry on, but no. But it’s okay, I’ve got a page and just written down a lot of random words of stuff I’m interested in and I just know that I’ll have an epiphany. I can just sense it.

Apart from that it was actually grand like, it was just going over the timetable and modules etc, and of course having a wee nosey at who all came back to uni.

But, all scary biscuits aside, I’m still excited for the year ahead. This is going to be my year. But like, for real this time. I’m in a lovely wee student house with two amazing girls (although one of our neighbours stole our food bin?? Still not over it), I’m doing a job that I really, really like and I have a fresh set of coloured pens just waiting to be taken out on a spin. I am gonna need to practice writing neatly again because I’m a bit out of practise after mostly typing for a year, but I’ll get there. So yeah, I had my fab post-placement summer and now I’m ready to getmy head down and have a wee go at this final year thing.

I’m also planning to keep blogging during the year because I do really enjoy it and missed doing it; but sure, as my ma always says, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

Confessions of a Placement Student

Well, here I am, 5 months into my placement year, and I thought I’d share some home truths with you.

I never really knew what to expect out of doing a placement, I mean my brother did his at an IT company (he’s super smart) and didn’t really talk about his work (he’s also SUPER quiet). My sister on the other hand, went to Korea (the South, before you make a witty “the North? Ha ha” joke) for hers, so I somehow think her experience in Jeju is a tad different than mine in Belfast.

Which brings us here. I’m going to let you in on a few things I learnt when on my placement year. Disclaimer: The following may be experienced by other readers, and is not me saying that they are the case for everyone going/on a university placement. I.E – It could just be me and I’m doing it all wrong. But nonetheless, enjoy.

 

1. 11pm is LATE.

I’m in bed by 10:30pm most nights; partly because I’m knackered after working 9-5, and partly because I now know the importance of getting 8 hours sleep*. Plus the fact it takes me around an hour to get to sleep no matter what time I go to bed at- isn’t that a fun and not at all disruptive trait??

*I am determined to get this amount some day.

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2. Weeknight nights out – please don’t

Working at 9am the next day isn’t the same as a 9am lecture the next day. Save your nights out for the weekend, when you can properly enjoy it without checking the time and thinking “I have work in x hours”. I also wouldn’t advise doing a university student’s Fresher’s week, because you will in no way be “fresh”.

 

3. Coffee becomes less of a treat and more of a necessity

I need my daily coffee, not because of a caffeine boost (although it definitely does help), but because it’s important to start the day off with a little treat or “pick me up”. Don’t like coffee? Oh you will, all in good time my friend.

 

4. “I’ll start the gym” – You probably won’t.

I had so many plans to start the gym when I started working full-time, because “I’ll need something as a wee distraction” and because I don’t do half as much exercise as I used to. There aren’t very many ways to make sitting a desk an ‘active’ task. But well, who was I kidding really, the gym isn’t for me – when it comes to choosing between going to one or going for coffee with friends, it just so happen to lose the coin toss every time!!

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5. “After work drinks” – the only thing I drink after work is coffee.

“We should SO go for cocktails after work sometime!!” We all know where cocktails lead and it is NOT a pretty place. *See number 2.  After a day at work, I want to sit down and have a chat with my friends, in a comfy chair, and be home by 9pm. Call me a granny all you want, but I am a content granny.

 

6. You DO get used to it.

I worked in retail for years, and found I could work a 9:30am-6:30pm on my feet rushing around all day no problem; but sitting down for 8 hours at a desk somehow exhausted me? My friend who was working full-time before me had promised me “Don’t worry, you get used to it”. 2 months in I realised that either she was lying, or was coping better than I was. But behold, I am now a machine (sort of) and I promise, you do get used to the change of routine. You too, will become a machine.

 

7. Your employers know you’re a placement student.

I know that one really knocked you for six. The point is, don’t put too much pressure on yourself; you’re not expected to crack the code and master all aspects of your job within the first few months, let alone weeks. Don’t compare yourself  to the other people in your office who have been doing the job for years. Of course they’re going to be “better” than you, but Michael Jordan’s better at basketball than you too – sorry, I’m not trying to lower your self esteem, I’m simply saying you can’t compare yourself to professionals.

 

8. You’ll make (in my case, loads of) mistakes.

You’ll make mistakes, and that’s OKAY. If you don’t do something wrong, you won’t learn what you shouldn’t have done and what you should do differently next time. It’s not so much a mistake as a “how to” for next time. As Hannah Montana said “everybody makes mistakes” and “nobody’s perfect”, what more inspiration and motivation do you need? So, next time you make a mistake, have a wee Hannah Montana sing-song (in your head preferably) and you’ll definitely feel better.

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9. You will meet some of the most amazing people

Those memes on the internet about having work friends who know your whole life story are scarily accurate. You’ll have so many weird conversations and debates about food (we had a very heated one about whether it was candy apple or toffee apple), and you’ll find yourself weirdly invested in your colleague’s dinners. You really do lean on and support each other, as well as get all the scoop on their best friend’s pyscho-ex. Brilliant.

*It’s toffee apple. Not up for discussion.

 

10. You might not figure out what you want to do – but you might figure out what you don’t.

Even if you realise what you’re doing on placement isn’t what you want to do in life, that’s okay. You can rule it out, and you’ll still have learned so much; about the industry, yourself, and working full-time in general. I mean, would you rather do a job you don’t exactly love for a year and never have to do it again, or end up stuck in one after graduation for the foreseeable future? The job’s only for a year, not forever, so  b r e a t h e .

11. Prepare for pensions and National Insurance

I’ll never forget the horror of seeing some of my pay going into a “pension pot”, I remember thinking, “I’m only 20? And saving for a pension??” Well, it’s okay, I’m over it now. Plus I’ve a nice wee £80 cushion to fall back on, so I’m currently deciding between early retirement or buying a villa in Spain…

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Me celebrating my glorious £80

12. You will get excited about new work clothes

I used to go into Primark and think “Okay, why is there a whole floor of blouses and blazers? This would be so much better used for guddies.” Well, let me tell you, there is no such thing as “too many” work clothes. Patterned blouses? Hated em. Blazers? Hated em too. But now, my friend, ain’t nothing I love more than a nice wee print blouse and some fitted trousers. So, you may laugh now, but soon you too will be BUZZIN to hit up the town and buy blazers, just you wait.

 

I had a lot more but didn’t want to bore anyone (might be too late though). I hope this list helps anyone on or going on a placement; you’ll either relate to some/all of these, or you’ll not experience them and then feel a lot better about yourself. Either way, you’re welcome.

If you have any questions/ queries or just want to talk about going on or preparing for a placement, please do get in touch! I’m more than happy to instil my pearls of wisdom and give advice and share my experience! I may not have many pearls, but I’d say I have at least 2.