Top things to remember to budget for at university

Students planning their budget for the university year

Tests, assignments, heavy workload, limited sleep, a new environment – the start of the university year can bring strains and stresses with it. Studies have shown that student finances can be a top stressor – with nearly a third of students saying that money issues had impacted their mental health. 

It is impossible to effectively manage your finances if you have no idea what state you are in – so, it is important to create and maintain a weekly or monthly budget plan. Knowing what costs may crop up can help you budget effectively for anything that may come up.

The cost of flatting depends on where you are planning to live and what kind of flat you are looking for. Auckland is the most expensive place to rent in New Zealand and rooms in flats in the city can be over $200 per week. In other cities the costs is close to $130-$160 per bedroom per week. But, you will need to budget for more than just rent. 

1. Course Costs 

Common course costs like textbooks, printing costs, materials, travel for work placements, field trips, technical equipment or report binding.

There are some ways you can save on these costs. For example, when it comes to books look at second hand options. Check out which options are absolutely essential to buy, and what you can find online or rent from the library. When it comes to printing, it may be cheaper in the long run to buy your own printer (and share costs with flatmates) than to use the university facilities.

2. Transport 

When you are planning to bus, train or drive to campus you will need to factor in travel costs. Whichever NZ town you are studying in, you are likely to qualify for a tertiary student discount, so it is worth getting yourself sorted with a travel card. 

3. Food 

Nobody wants to live up to the myth of students living off tins of baked beans. Whatever your budget you can eat normally and healthily by following a few pointers:

  • Avoid impulse buys by making a shopping list and sticking to it
  • Learn to cook. Make meals in bulk and freeze meals so that nothing goes to waste. Cooking in bulk works out cheaper and you will have healthy meals to hand to pop in the microwave any time. 
  • Make packed lunches, rather than buying lunch.

4. Utilities 

If you are living in student accommodation, then you won’t need to worry about utilities like electricity and water. But if you are flatting, you will need to get on top of your household bills. 

Websites like Power Compare can help you compare deals available at your address to find the best deal for your flat. Once you have your utilities set up, make sure you set aside a certain amount each month to cover your bills. 

5. Broadband

This is another cost you won’t need to worry about if you are living in student accommodation, but you will need to consider if you are flatting. 

Finding the best deal on broadband is easy with Broadband Compare – simply enter your address to see the best and cheapest broadband deals for your address. 

6. Insurance

You  might be surprised by how much how much your belongings are actually worth once you add up the cost of your laptop, phone, TV, clothes, specialist course equipment etc.

7. Toiletries

You may not realise how much toiletries like shower gel and toothpaste cost until you are out on your own. When you set up your budget, it’s a good idea to set enough aside for the basics. 

8. Savings

It is a good idea to put some money aside each week into a separate account so that you have something extra put aside for additional expenses that come up like clothes, shoes, medical expenses and trips home. 

9. Socialising

Try to put a small amount aside each week for socialising - that is after all one of the reasons you are at university! If you have a set amount to spend each week, it will help keep costs from getting out of control in the long term. There are also lots of free and cheap things to around university and the city. Trips to parks, beaches, art galleries, museums, summer cinema, farmers markets are all low cost choices.


Sample budget for a NZ University student

The exact costs in your budget will depend on your living situation, the types of deals you can find for utilities, how many people you are splitting costs with, and the type of transportation you use. Here is a sample of what you may need to spend:


Expense Approximate Cost Per Week
Rent Up to $200
Phone / broadband $10-$15
Power / gas $15 (more in cold places)
Food $70 (more if buying individually)
Toiletries / personal items $10
Contents & liability insurance $10
Transportation costs $40
Savings $20
Socialising $40




Monday, 18 February 2019