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How to Save Money for a Gap Year in New Zealand

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Afford to Take a Gap Year Abroad

What’s stopping most people from running to the airport right now to begin their gap year travels? Money. Spending so much time out of work to travel across the world for up to a year can seem pretty daunting, especially for the old bank account. Luckily, on the working holiday visa in New Zealand, you can work to fund your travels throughout your gap year. However, you will still need some money to start up with when you arrive in Kiwi land. After booking flights, buying travel insurance, and perhaps joining a gap year travel program, we recommend having at least NZ$5,500 plus enough for a return flight home. You probably won’t be spending all that, especially as you will be working in New Zealand plus following our budget travel tips, but that is a nice cushion for your initial costs when you arrive in New Zealand and in case you need any “emergency” money.

So between now and starting your big trip, how are you going to save money for a gap year in New Zealand? Let us give you some tips…

Quick Tips to Save Money for a Gap Year Abroad

  • Get a full-time job (duh!)
  • Ask for more hours at work
  • Start a “gap year” savings account
  • Move in with your parents
  • Sellas much of your stuff as possible
  • Use public transport, walk or cycle
  • Cook for yourself
  • Cut down on life’s luxuries like cosmetics and coffee.

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Work as Many Hours as Possible

We know you’re smart and realise that the fastest way to make money is by having a job. We also know that it’s pretty rare for young people to get a well-paid job, so you’ll need to work as many hours as possible to save enough money for a gap year. Get a full-time job and take every extra shift that comes along. Even ask for extra hours.

A 20-something-year-old has what it takes to do the daily grind. With the dream of a gap year so close to becoming a reality, it will give you the motivation to work your ass off.

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Get a Separate Bank Account

Do you ever have those off days where you just end up spending way too much on a night out or impulse buy shit you can’t afford? Well you, sir, need a separate bank account.To stop yourself from spending your gap year fund and maybe gaining a tiny amount of interest that banks begrudgingly give you, create a savings account. If you have online banking, then some savings accounts are easy enough to set up online. If not, book an appointment with your bank to see how to set up one.

Then add a percentage of all the earnings you make into your savings plus any extra money you can throw in too.

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Move in with Parents

Rent is always a huge expense ripped away from our bank accounts on a regular basis. It’s saddening when trying to save for a gap year abroad. However, living with your parents means rent is usually free or much more affordable (depending on how much your parents love you). This will certainly make the time between now and your gap year come that much more closer!

So, if you have recently been enjoying the freedom that comes with living away from your parents, bite the bullet and be prepared to live with them again for just a few more months. You’ll save money faster just to get further away from them again.

Obviously, don’t tell this to your parents. Instead, convince your parents that a gap year in New Zealand is a fantastic idea with these reasons.

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Sell Your Belongings

It’s hard to imagine now as you look around your home at all the stuff you have gathered over the years how you could ever get rid of all this. Trust us, after a year of travelling, you will forget you even owned most of this stuff. Get ahead now and start selling your things!

Look at that pile of dresses or shoes on the floor. Do you wear them often? No? Get rid. Those video games, do you play them? No? Sell, sell, sell!

If you have a car, dare we say it, sell that too. You will make a decent profit from it and save so much money on fuel, mechanics and insurance. It’s time to hop on the peasant wagon, just for a few months.

Ebay, garage sales, Gumtree, Facebook groups, there are so many different platforms to use to sell your stuff nowadays. However, do be aware of the fees when selling your stuff on auction websites. Even Paypal takes a percentage of your earnings. Draft yourself a spreadsheet to make sure you are actually making money on what you’re selling, and not losing out on the postage, for example.

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Cut Down on the Regular Expenses and Luxuries

Luxuries? What luxuries? You know: the Starbucks coffee, the top-end phone plan for an iPhone that has more functions than necessary, the nights out drinking, etc. These are all added extras and expenses you don’t need. Believe us, you are going to have the greatest luxury of all very soon if you follow this plan: the luxury of travel.

A lot of expenses come with going out and socialising. How about suggesting more budget-friendly activities like a potluck dinner party, going hiking in preparation for your New Zealand trip, or a clothes giveaway with your friends since you need to get rid of them anyway?

Things You Can Cut Out of Your Life to Save Money

  • Car
  • Takeaway coffee
  • Takeaway food
  • Gym membership
  • Expensive phone contract
  • Cosmetics (not all, we don’t want you to smell)
  • Expensive drinks
  • Meat
  • Snacks


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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