How to Save for Your Big Move to New Zealand - Part One (To Rule Them All)

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So you just decided to move to New Zealand, huh!?

***Cue the hobbit-sized confetti!!!***

Congratulations! You’ve just made one of the most incredible decisions of your life!  I can personally guarantee you won’t regret it.

Picture this: You just finished work, your friends called to tell you they’re sitting by the lake with a pack of cold ones watching the boats zip around the lakeside.  You go down to meet them to enjoy a brilliant, fiery sunset as you sip on a local New Zealand lager and watch the evening glow coat the Remarkable mountains as you smile to yourself thinking, “This is just perfect.”

 The Queenstown lakefront is the place to be in summer time

The Queenstown lakefront is the place to be in summer time

Now, before we go down the rabbit hole of daydreaming (sorry about that dangling carrot there, but it’s in place for a reason!) about all the things you want to do in New Zealand, we need to do some hard work first.  They say nothing ever comes easy, but damn, New Zealand is 1000000% worth the effort.

To get to New Zealand, and survive there, you need money.  I know you already know that and I’m inventing zero wheels here, but not having enough money is not something you can really “wing” in New Zealand.

I’ll be honest -- this country is expensive.  Traveling here, living here…it costs a pretty penny.  You, my adventurous readers, will come from a variety of lifestyle choices, so take this guide with a grain of {sea} salt.

 When you think about spending, think "Can I better use this in Doubtful Sound?"

When you think about spending, think "Can I better use this in Doubtful Sound?"

I am not a financial expert, but I am someone who has learned a lot from my many past travel-budgeting mistakes.  Along with my money savvy boyfriend, this outline is where we share with you our way of making that confusing financial-booklet-jargon more relatable and the process less complicated.



Okay, this is important: I want you to think about how often you get paid.

Does your paycheck come in every two weeks (fortnightly), once a week, every month, or even every day (for my bartenders out there)?

Just keep that in the back of your mind throughout this activity.  We find that saving according to your wage cycle is an incredibly maintainable strategy.

If you’re like me and you’ve used credit cards or have student loans constantly draining your bank account, you’ll need to tend to those pesky debts first.

To best deal with these annoying financial burdens, we need a plan of attack.

Grab a notebook and a cup of coffee so we can do some hard-core gangster planning.  We’re about to tackle your finances like a linebacker in the Super Bowl!

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Now, first write down a list of your credit card and/or student loan debts.  This is what we need to focus on eliminating first so you can go into your time in New Zealand as debt-free as possible.

Then, below that list, write down your other regular, non-negotiable outgoings within the same time frame as your paychecks.  For example, if you’re paid every two weeks, but you pay rent every month, break down your rent payments to match your pay period.  As in, put aside half of your rent each pay so your saving habits can match your pay checks.

These "non-negotiables" may include rent, car insurance, gas/petrol or transportation costs to/from work, groceries (try to gauge the average amount you spend during your pay cycle aka the time between pay checks), gym membership, phone bill, or anything else that falls into this category.

After that, list your other expenditures that aren’t so much non-negotiable.

For example, write out the things you spend your money on that are not a must.  Be honest here, there’s no point in lying to yourself or you’ll never reach that financial goal (remember your new mantra: sunset beers by the lakeside).

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Do you often eat out with friends?  Go for drinks and pizza after work? Buy new shoes on the reg?  Spend money on fun activities that you like doing like going to the movies?  Do you pay for Netflix and/or Spotify every month?

There’s nothing wrong with buying yourself things you like or doing things that make you happy AT ALL.  This exercise is simply to see where your financial priorities are right now so we can shift into saving mode to make it to that end goal: a new chapter in New Zealand (#hellyeah!).

Now that you have all of your outgoings listed on a piece of paper, go back and prioritize them.  Write a little number next to each line starting with #1 being rent, for instance ('cause having a place to live is pretty important these days), and going to #14, for example, with sushi with Ashley (no Ashleys are meant to be offended during this exercise ;-P).

Rewrite this list on a new piece of paper in numerical order so that you end up with a list of your most important payments to your least.

Calculate the sum.

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Next, write down the amount you make every time you get paid after taxes (or an average).  Calculate the difference between your paycheck and your sum of outgoings.

That number is:

First, the amount you will use to pay off your debts quicker than the normal payments you’re already making.

Second, the soon-to-increase amount you’re going to start your savings with.

Let’s refer to that number as the MAGIC NUMBER from now on.

That magic number can do a lot for you.  It can pay off your outstanding debt and it can be your plane ticket to a new chapter with the Kiwis.

Let’s be honest, the faster you can pay off your debts, the sooner you can get to New Zealand.  If you have student loan debt that’ll take you decades to pay off, that doesn’t mean you’re going to have to wait until you’re 45 to move to New Zealand.  You, my friend, are just going to have to plan to have a bigger magic number to last you through your time in New Zealand or for at least the first six months until you can guarantee you’re making enough money to send home for payments (Believe me, I feel your pain on this one). 

>>Just remember, if you want it bad enough, you can make it work.<<

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Let’s start by looking at that list of negotiable expenses first – like those guilty pleasure purchases or the regular costs of being a socialite (I know I’ve got my hand up!).

In order to budget for your move to New Zealand, we need to gauge the maximum possible magic number amount you can put away into that piggy bank every single time you get paid.

We’re not asking you to give up your social life to afford a move to New Zealand nor are we asking you to cancel your Netflix when I know you’re knee-deep in season 2 of Orphan Black.  We’re just hoping this is the area you can take an honest look at where you’re spending your extra money to see if we can get creative about cutting costs without losing all of the pleasures.

Start considering areas you can straight up stop spending money and begin to consider ways you may be able to stretch your dollars further during this money saving period. I bet you can admit some things right off the bat that you can chop out of your regular spending routine.

Next, let’s look at those fixed payments at the top of your list.  Believe it or not, you may find that some of those regular outgoings are disguised places to save money.

For example, our budget for groceries on a fortnightly basis is $200 each (yeah, New Zealand is expensive).  If we go over our $200 budget each, then it cuts into our savings, but if we come in under $200 each, that extra money goes right into that sexy savings pot!

Here are some cost-cutting ideas to stretch those pennies during saving-mode so you can hide the rest away in your Middle Earth fund:

  • Invite your girlfriends over for dinner instead of eating out

I know it’s obvious, but it’s wayyyyy cheaper to have a meal and some wine at home than it is paying per glass at a restaurant.  Plus, you still get that special socializing time together before you move across the world.

  • Do your workouts at home or at the local park

Gym memberships can be costly, but you can get the same results if you have the motivation to workout at home, which means more money in the GandVault (see what I did there?).  YouTube is a Mecca for fitness videos whether you like yoga, body-weight exercises, or pilates.  Try substituting the cost of a gym with running outdoors or doing planks next to your bed.  You can still stay fit without a gym membership, you just have to have the motivation and creativity to avoid the financial costs.

  • Carpool or take public transportation

I know it’s not as glamorous as cruising down the highway listening to your favorite radio station, but hot damn, you can save a lot of money if you cut out gas/petrol costs.  Plus, if you start taking the bus instead of driving, that’s just more time to plan your move to New Zealand!

  • Grocery shop based on what’s on sale

If you can plan your meals around the cheapest things being sold at the grocery store, you can make that food budget another way to save.  Buy fruits & veggies that are in season, they’re usually cheaper.  Plus, do you really need that $25 bottle of wine or can you go for the $9 one?  Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of quality wine in New Zealand; make some sacrifices here and there for the end goal.

  • Meal plan

This isn’t just for the health conscious out there.  If you’re susceptible to meeting up with friends after work and chowing down on pizza and beers or even eat out for lunch on the reg, consider bringing food to work and eating before you head somewhere with tempting options.  Eating out is almost always delicious, but it’s a money sucker.  Don’t let it suck up the money you could use for road tripping to Milford Sound.

  • Downgrade your accounts

I know Spotify Premium is epic and sharing screens on Netflix makes life easier, but every single penny you add to the pot means bigger and better adventures.  See if you can find free ways to listen to the music you love or if a friend would be willing to share Netflix with you for the few months before you go to New Zealand.  Don’t forget to send them a thank you souvenir from the Hobbiton gift shop.

  • Borrow or buy used instead of buying new

How many times are we guilty of buying new things just because we don't have exactly the one we want?  I know I’ve bought new dresses for events when I could’ve easily borrowed one from a friend.  I’ve also purchased a brand new GoPro when I could’ve bought a previously owned one with a guarantee from GoPro they’ll repair it if something goes wrong in the first year.  Buying refurbished goods is my favorite new way to getting what I want at a cheaper price.

Now, take a peek at that magic number you came up with in exercise #1 and apply some of these strategies you’ve learned in Exercise #2.  You should see a drastic change.

Go back any time and re-evaluate to see if you can make your magic number grow.

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Yes, there's a reason I broke this up into a trifecta of segments to match the three Lord of the Rings movies and the three Hobbit movies -- you need to start getting psyched about your epic move to Bag End!  You're about to embark on an epic journey and I want to ensure you have everything you need before, during, and after you arrive.

If you’re not saving any of your wages you’re sinking.
If you’re saving 25% of your wages you’re floating.
If you’re saving 50% or more of your wages, damn, you’re flying.
— A Wise Person Somewhere

Leave a comment below with any specific examples of your best money saving strategies and how they've helped you travel.

Kelsey PowellComment